Applications are now open for the 2023 South Dakota Master Naturalist cohort. Any South Dakota resident age 18 or older can apply to be part of the next cohort at

Anne Lewis, Special Projects Director and member of the South Dakota Master Naturalists Executive Committee, says that the Master Naturalist program is for those interested in learning about South Dakota’s nature and environment and sharing that knowledge with others through volunteering.

“Our goal is to develop the naturalist’s mindset in our participants so they think like a naturalist,” says Lewis. “We want people to be curious about the natural world and deep observers of it. We also want people to know how to communicate about and care for the environment.”

The 12-week class meets online Tuesday evenings starting March 7, 2023, there will also be weekly assignments and two field trips as part of the training. Once the training is complete, Master Naturalists are expected to give back through volunteering. Master Naturalists can provide education programs for an agency or organization, participate in stewardship activities, contribute to community science projects, or support other Master Naturalists.

The South Dakota Master Naturalist program is a collaborative effort between Black Hills Parks and Forests Association, Dakota Wesleyan University, South Dakota Discovery Center, South Dakota Game, Fish and Park, and South Dakota State University Extension.

Applications are open until January 31, 2023. To learn more visit

South Dakota Master Naturalists from the 2022 cohort learn about wildlife management on Buffalo Gap National Grassland with wildlife biologist, Phil  Dobesh.

Hands-on experience is a key component of master naturalist training. During the 2022 field trip to Buffalo Gap National Grassland and Badlands National Park master naturalists had the opportunity to search for fossils with Badlands National Park paleontologist Ed Welsh.