Minnesota Master Naturalist

Course Registration

PP - Prairies, Potholes, and Streams in Southwest Minnesota

SMSU, 1501 State St, Marshall, MN 56258 website

1501 State St
Marshall, MN 56258

Minnesota’s remaining prairie grasslands and wetlands are still visible as you travel across the western and southern areas of the state. Enroll in this course to learn more about the P&P biome as well as current efforts to conserve and restore prairie and wetland habitat. With your instructors and guest experts, you will explore the prairie, its wetlands, and streams through classroom, lab, and outdoor field experiences. We hope you will share your prairie knowledge and experiences with our class and ask questions!

During class time and outdoors, you will practice using several environmental learning tools. In addition to the course text, we will recommend other useful resources to enhance your continued learning about Minnesota’s P&P biome. Guest speakers will share their knowledge and expertise about specific aspects of the prairie (past, present, and future).

Everyone participates in required group capstone projects identified by local community partners. You will have several options from which to choose. Some class time will be set aside for this, but groups will meet/communicate outside of class as well. Capstone projects will be presented the last week of class followed by a graduation celebration. When you complete the course, we hope you consider volunteering as a Master Naturalist to share the prairie’s story with others.

We will explore outdoor resources on the Southwest Minnesota State University campus and nearby each week and have required all day field trips on Saturday April 20th and Sunday May 5th. We will visit state parks and scientific and natural areas (SNAs), national wetland and refuge areas, and cultural sites. Please inform instructors before the class begins of any accessibility or mobility needs regarding outdoor activities. SMSU is an accessible facility.

The course cost is $295 and includes course manuals and supplies.

If the course cost is a hardship, please fill out the scholarship application. After the scholarship is fully processed, you will receive a code to be entered in the on-line registration process. Please wait until you receive that code to complete registration.

Course Dates:

Meeting from 6:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. on:

Instructor Information

Candace Thomas

Candace Thomas grew up exploring the Carolina biomes but was excited to learn about prairies when she moved to Minnesota in 1991. She became a Master Naturalist in 2021 and a Master Naturalist Instructor in 2023. She has been a STEM literacy teacher or volunteer with children, families, and adults since 1986. Natural history was one of her specialties as a research librarian, and she integrated local natural history in her work with English learners. In 2018, she returned to school to add an environmental science major and biology minor to her degrees. Her passions include wetland ecology, historical geology, native plants, pollinators, bird migration, and community science. She and her husband Will are trustees of the Adam S. Thomas Foundation for Nature.

Will Thomas

Will Thomas recently completed his Master Naturalist instructor course. He has taught accounting, finance, and business ethics since 1981 and has been active in corporate social and environmental responsibility work since 1999. He is one of the first college profs in Minnesota to design and teach an Environmental Accounting course. He has been a STEM literacy volunteer since 2012 and became a Master Naturalist in 2023. He is fascinated with dragonflies and damselflies and enjoys identifying them. His other areas of interest include climate change, GIS tools for environmental monitoring, and restoration of natural areas.

Sponsor Information

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