Minnesota Master Naturalist

Master Naturalist Explorers


Explore the basics of leading youth outdoors.  These resources are intended to provide you with the information you need to plan an outdoor program with youth.
4-H Exploring Your Environment: Helper's Guide  (click here for free download)
Resource Type: Curriculum
What: Read “The Youth-driven Model” “Teaching Tips and Ideas” “Checklist for Good Learning” includes ages and stages for youth nine-nineteen years old and the implications for teaching outdoors.
Who: Carrie Hartz and Stephan Carlson, Center for 4-H Youth Development, University of Minnesota Extension Service
Driven to Discover: Facilitator’s Guide to Citizen Science
Resource Type: Curriculum and leader’s guide
What: See “Nurturing Positive Behavior” “Tips for Facilitating Groups Outdoors” and “Teaching Through Questioning”
Who: University of Minnesota Extension
Last Child in the Woods
Resource Type: Book
What: compiled research on topics of youth, outdoors, and health, to clearly show the benefits of spending time in nature with children.
Where: Most book retailers
Who: Richard Louv, non-fiction author and journalist, founder of Children and Nature Network
The Nature Connection
Resource Type: Book
What: tips for journaling, drawing, outdoor activities, phenology
Where: Most book retailers
Who:  Clare Walker Leslie, author and artist
Resource Type: Recommendation of best practices
What: Resource to plan developmentally appropriate outdoor programs for young children, covers theory and techniques
Who: Oltman, M. (2002). Natural Wonders: A Guide to Early Childhood for Environmental Educators.
What: Step by step directions to identify site partners and how to start your own outdoor after school program.
Who: Minnesota Master Naturalist Program


This section highlights resources for lesson plans and curriculum.

Minnesota Master Naturalist Explorers Program Curriculum
What: Three curricula, focusing on the phenology of fall, winter, and spring. (click on season for FREE download)
Who: Minnesota Master Naturalist Program
Minnesota Master Naturalist Explorers Program Journals
What: Three journals, focusing on the fall, winter, and spring seasons.(click on season for FREE download)  Each journal contains data sheets, pages to record nature observations, and short activities.
What: Worksheets with word finds, crossword puzzles, and word scrambles to reinforce vocabulary in Explorers Program Curriculum.
Project Learning Tree, Project WILD, Project WET
What: Project Learning Tree, Project WILD, and Project WET provide training and curriculum in environmental education for anyone working with youth from kindergarten to grade 12.  The activity guide is only available to those who attend a workshop.
Where: Information on workshops can be found at www.mndnr.gov/education/teachers/calendar.html
Who: Project Learning Tree, Project WILD, and Project WET are nation-wide organizations devoted to helping parents, teachers, and community members lead youth in environmental education.
Access Nature
What: Habitat-based curriculum for youth in grades K-8 with adaptations and extensions for youth with disabilities including learning/cognitive, motor, and visual restrictions.
Where: Available from third party sellers on www.amazon.com, individual lessons can also be found at  https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Educator-Tools/Lesson-Plans-and-Webinars along with many other activities.
Who: The National Wildlife Federation works to protect wildlife, habitat, be an advocate for conservation, and connect kids and nature.  NWF publishes the popular children’s magazine Ranger Rick.
What: Curriculum based on fishing in Minnesota, includes lessons on aquatic habitats, Minnesota fish, and habitat management
Who: MinnAqua is a statewide education program designed to teach angling recreation and stewardship as well as the ecology and conservation of aquatic habitats.
What: You can use this program planning template to structure each outdoor session.
Who: Minnesota Master Naturalist Explorers Program
What: This form can be used by individual participants or a group to reflect on their experiences and help leaders plan for future sessions.
Who: Driven to Discover
What: Fill-in-the-blank form letters for you and youth to complete at the end of an outdoor session to communicate with families.


The “Conserve” section highlights organizations that offer volunteer positions and stewardship activities with youth.  Below are opportunities for science activities as field naturalists throughout the state of Minnesota.  Please visit the websites listed below to learn more about the organizations and their volunteer opportunities.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
What: The mission of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is to work with citizens to conserve and manage the state's natural resources, to provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and to provide for commercial uses of natural resources in a way that creates a sustainable quality of life. To accomplish this, the Minnesota DNR utilizes more than 30,000 volunteers.  Volunteers do everything from tagging fish to leading hikes.  
For more information: Visit www.mndnr.gov/volunteering/index.html to find information on current volunteer opportunities throughout the state and to sign up for the volunteer cyber newsletter.
Minnesota SEEK
What: Minnesota’s home for environmental education resources offers education resources, opportunities for volunteers and internships, and information on partners in environmental education across the state of Minnesota.
Who: Minnesota SEEK is housed in and funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as part of its legislative charge and commitment to environmental education in Minnesota.
For more information: https://seek.minnesotaee.org/
Schools and community organizations
What: Schools and community organizations such as Parks and Recreation, YMCAs, or others offering youth programs are often very excited to have volunteers. For more information on contacting sites to lead outdoor programming, see How to Find and After School Partner
Project GO!
What: Project Get Outdoors, Inc. (Project GO) is a non-profit organization founded in 2006 to assist Minnesota communities in connecting children to nature exploration and outdoor learning during the out-of-school hours.
For more information: https://www.mnprojectgo.org/


These resources provide further information or training opportunities to work with youth outdoors.  Check them out!
Botany Primer published by Nature’s Notebook www.usanpn.org/files/shared/files/USA-NPN_Botany-Primer.pdf
Ten-minute field trips by Helen Ross Russel, NSTA Press, 1998.
Jeffers Foundation, www.jeffersfoundation.org
Keepers of the Animals, Keepers of Life, Keepers of the Night, Keepers of the Earth by Michael Caduto
Sharing nature with children by Joseph Cornell, Dawn Publications, 2009.