Tennessee Naturalist Program

The 2019-20 class begins in August. Registration will open in July. Subscribe to our e-news to be the first to hear when registration begins.

Inspiring the desire to learn and share Tennessee's nature

The Tennessee Naturalist Program (TNP) is an education training course designed to introduce the natural history of Tennessee to interested adults. Graduates join a critical corps of Tennessee Naturalist volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the appreciation, understanding, and beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.
The purpose of the TNP is to teach Tennesseans about our natural world, inspire the desire to learn more, instill an appreciation of responsible environmental stewardship, and channel volunteer efforts toward education of the general public and conservation of Tennessee's natural resources.

What is a Tennessee Naturalist?

Tennessee Naturalists are trained volunteers. They:
  • Receive 40 hours of instruction on various aspects of the state's natural history -- geology, flora, wildlife, watersheds -- as well as exposure to ecological concepts and conservation issues
  • Complete 40 hours of volunteer service to earn certification
  • Help state and local government agencies monitor and maintain the quality of our native ecosystems in a variety of citizen science projects
  • Work with nonprofit organizations in preserving and maintaining our natural heritage
  • Assist with public interpretive programs reaching school children and others across the state
  • Recertify annually to extend their knowledge and skills

What is the role of a Tennessee Naturalist?

Individuals who participate in the program combine their diverse interests, skills, and experiences with the TNP instruction to contribute time, energy, and ideas toward the understanding and preservation of native ecosystems throughout the state.
After training, Tennessee Naturalists may participate in many different types of volunteer activities, such as helping a nature outreach program at a park, museum, nature center or school, assisting the collection of scientific data for a bird census, water quality assessment, or rare plant monitoring, and working with trail maintenance or habitat restoration projects.

How Do I Become a Tennessee Naturalist?

To become a Tennessee Naturalist, a person must complete a minimum of 40 hours instruction through a TNP training course offered by one of our many chapters throughout the state and perform a minimum of 40 hours volunteer service. Registration for TNP at Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary usually occurs in July.  Courses begin in August. 


For more information, visit the Tennessee Naturalist Website


TNP students may make-up no more than two (2) classes at no charge for any session they missed in their original class year. The makeups must take place during the 12-month period immediately following your original class year at your home chapter. Additional makeup classes are $25/class. PLEASE NOTE: Makeup class attendance is contingent on space availability. Please confirm a spot by emailing info@owlshill.org in advance of the desired class.