Tennessee Naturalist Program

REGISTRATION IS FULL FOR 2020-2021 CLASS. Please check back next year.

Inspiring the desire to learn and share Tennessee's natural world

The Tennessee Naturalist Program (TNP) is a 10-month training course designed to introduce the natural history of Tennessee to interested adults. Graduates become a part of a community of Tennessee Naturalist volunteers providing environmental education, outreach, and service dedicated to the appreciation, understanding, and stewardship of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.

What is a Tennessee Naturalist?
Tennessee Naturalists are trained volunteers. They:
  • receive 40 hours of instruction combined with hands-on fieldwork 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 monitor and maintain the quality of our native ecosystems through a variety of citizen science projects.
  • work with nonprofit organizations in preserving and maintaining our natural heritage.
  • serve as environmental ambassadors in their communities assisting with public interpretive programs reaching school children and others across the state.
What is the role of a Tennessee Naturalist?
After training, Tennessee Naturalists are encouraged to engage in different types of nature-based volunteer activities, such as helping with a nature outreach program at a park, nature center or school; assisting with the collection of scientific data for a bird census, water quality assessment, or rare plant monitoring;  working on trail building/maintenance projects;  and helping with habitat restoration projects.
How Do I Become a certified Tennessee Naturalist?
To become a certified Tennessee Naturalist, you must complete the series of (10) TNP training courses offered by one of  several chapters throughout the state AND perform a minimum of 40 hours volunteer service. Program costs include all classes, study guides and course handouts. Please be aware that the fieldwork portion of the course can be physically demanding at times with hiking steep hills, rough terrain and night activities. 
For a list of chapters and more information, visit the Tennessee Naturalist website


REGISTRATION conveys a commitment to class work AND volunteer hours (40). Volunteer hours must be completed within 15 months of date of first class. Participants must  be 18 years of age or older.

REFUND POLICY: If you cancel in writing to laura@owlshill.org more than 14 days in advance of your first class you will receive a full refund. Canellations less than 14 days but before the day of your first class will recieve a 50% refund. Your registration is nonrefundable the first day of class and beyond. 

ATTENDANCE is required. Students missing 3 classes will be dropped from the program (no refund). Students may register for a future class at full price.

WHAT TO BRING: Bring a refillable water bottle. Dress for the weather (unless under severe weather threat, sessions are rain or shine). Attire and closed-toe footwear should be appropriate for hiking and outdoor activities. Depending on the season, consider bringing sunscreen, hat and bug spray. Note: Due to COVID-19, all visitors (ages 12+) are required to bring and wear a facial covering when unable to maintain physcial distancing requirements during class.

MAKEUPS: There is no refund or credit for missed classes. Registration includes two (2) free makeup classes at your home chapter. Additional makeups or makeup classes at a chapter other than your base chapter are $25/class and payable the day of the makeup. PLEASE NOTE: Makeup class attendance is contingent on available space. Please confirm a spot by emailing laura@owlshill.org in advance of the desired class.

CERTIFICATION: Students have 15 months from the date of first class to complete volunteer work toward initial certification. Final assessment is required and you must get at least a 70 to earn certification.