Join our Natural History Volunteer Leaders

Learn about the natural world and give back to the community

Become a Natural History Volunteer Leader

Give back what you learn about the natural world

Upcoming Events

Latest from our Blog

FUN Inaugural Chapter Coffee Social

Thanks Social Committee for hosting this casual & relaxing event on June 25! Thirteen chapter members (25% of our chapter) got to know each other better, share some nature favorites, and our laughter sang-out like song birds. 

Cornell Labs Project Feeder Watch

Citizen Science from Home Crowded feeder with White-crowned Sparrows, Lesser Goldfinches and Yellow-rumped Warblers This past winter I participated in Cornell Labs’ “Project FeederWatch." I enjoy watching birds at my feeder and decided to turn my at-home bird watching...

Getting youth outdoors to wonder, explore, and learn! 

Granville Elementary Fall 2023 ~ Preparing the garden for winter rest. One of the cornerstones of The Highlands Center for Natural History is inviting youth to discover the mysteries of the animals, plants and lands of the Central Highlands. Oftentimes this inspires a...

Bubbling Ponds Hatchery

On a recent visit to Bubbling Ponds Hatchery, I had the good fortune to get a photo of a belted kingfisher and a vermilion flycatcher sitting on the same branch! If you've never been to Bubbling Ponds or its close neighbor, Page Springs Hatchery in Cornville, AZ, it's...

Butterfly Seeds

By Ann Angel Eberhardt of Goodyear, Arizona You never know what you're gonna get in a packet of seeds. One packet labeled "Sunflowers," brought home by my daughter last summer from the Dollar Tree, held a big surprise. She planted the brown seeds, which were about the...

American Kestrel Nest Box Project Update

I am pleased to report that my third year of hosting an American Kestrel nest box was a great success. Right on schedule, a kestrel couple began visiting the nest box in the middle of February. I suspected this was the same couple that used the nest box last year...

Featured Bird: Pinyon Jays

Pinyon Jays, Gymnorhinus cyanocephalusare, are birds about the size and shape of a small crow that are overall blue-gray in coloring. The females and males are colored and sized similarly and are difficult to tell apart. The Pinyon Jay's primary food source is piñon...

Service and Certification Updates

(YTD through June 2024) 

  • 1071 volunteer services hours in 2024 (5471 hours since 2022)
  • 1306 continuing education hours in 2024 (3100 hours since 2022)
  • 10 members have already qualified for recertification for 2024

Thanks to all who continue to make a difference for our land, our communities and our future generations!

Arizona Central Highlands Master Naturalists

First – What is a Master Naturalist?

Master Naturalist programs are natural resource education and service programs which provide leadership, information, and resources to support partnering organizations. Although the Central Highlands chapter is sponsored by the Highlands Center for Natural History, we also work with partnering organizations in our part of Arizona, including (this list will continue to grow):

Master Naturalists offer active stewardship by supporting science-based outreach and service programs. Our program trains conservation volunteers to enhance and expand natural resource conservation and education in the Central Highlands, in Arizona, and across the nation. There are Master Naturalist chapters in Pima County, Maricopa County, and now in the Central Highlands. The chapters work together with each other, our partners, with volunteers, with leadership of the Master Naturalist organization, and with course facilitators and instructors to deliver an extensive educational program to certify new Master Naturalists.

The goals of this educational program are:

  1. To maintain a corps of skilled natural and cultural resource leaders
  2. To serve our partners by offering skilled volunteers who are able to move beyond basic natural resource volunteer service
  3. To increase the profile and value of natural resource volunteer service across our state
  4. To provide educational, natural and cultural resource content to members of all communities across the state of Arizona

We are a chapter of the Arizona Master Naturalist Association.

Our chapter is located on Yavapai Lands included the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe and the Yavapai-Apache Nation. We honor them and their connection to this region. We give thanks for the opportunity to live, work, learn and gather on their traditional homeland.

The Arizona Master Naturalist Association is committed to developing Just, Equitable, Diverse, and Inclusive programs for everyone in the state of Arizona.

If you are at all interested in the natural world of the Central Arizona Highlands ecoregion, take this course. Led by experts, I found the Arizona Master Naturalist classes always informative, thought-provoking, and even entertaining (we all shared more than a few laughs!) And I made some new friends along the way. This course has been a launching pad for my volunteering activities at Prescott Creeks, Highlands Center for Natural History, and Natural History Institute. Where will it lead you?

Phil Taska

I was intrigued when I read about the first AZ Master Naturalist cohort because it brought me back to my earliest career aspirations. I earned degrees in biology and ecology way back when. The AZMN course fulfilled all my desires to be reconnected to and reignited by my first love – nature. The course was well-organized and presented by impressive experts in all areas. Field trips provided opportunities to form great bonds with other cohort participants.

Anne Temte

Program Details

The Master Naturalist certification program is a comprehensive course of study that includes a series of topics that are listed here:

  • Ecoregions of Arizona
  • Geology
  • Hydrology
  • Biology
  • Taxonomy/Evolution
  • Botany
  • Zoology
  • Ecology
  • Phenology/Climatology
  • Cultural resources/Human history
  • Conservation and Restoration
  • Education and Interpretation

Resources such as important website links as well as instructor presentations on each of these topics will be stored throughout the course on the headers found at the top of this page (and will be password protected).

In addition to these topics, the course is enhanced through the addition of several field labs held in local area Prescott venues, including the Highlands Center for Natural history, the Heritage Park Zoo, and the Sharlot Hall Museum.

Course Logistics

The course is structured as follows:

  • Zoom classes held every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 until 8 PM Arizona, commencing  beginning of January and running through April. The Tuesday classes will generally be lectures by our guest instructors, with the Thursday classes being available for discussion of the Tuesday content.
  • This amounts to 60 hours of class time.
  • In addition, you should expect an additional 4 to 6 hours of research, homework, and field journal time each week in order to complete assignments.
  • There will be details during the course for the field labs (minimum of 20 hours) which involve field trips in the Prescott area for outdoor assignments followed by write-ups of the experiences.
  • The program concludes with a capstone project that is done by each participant (or in participant teams) that involves a project that the participant undertakes during the course which involves a naturalist experience and can result in volunteer service hours after the course is complete. The capstone project is presented to our course facilitators at the end of the course and input is provided to the participant.


Maria Icenogle
Education Director, Highlands Center for Natural History


Volunteer Requirements

This basic structure leads to certification by the Arizona Master Naturalist organization. In order to maintain this certification, the Central Highlands Master Naturalist will be required to complete volunteer service hours by December 31st of each year, as follows:

  • First Year: 20 hours
  • Second Year: 40 hours
  • Third Year and thereafter: 60 hours
  • As well as 20 hours of advanced training every year, and this includes at least 5 hours of skills-based training

The program cost for the certification program is $525, payable to the Highlands Center for Natural History.

Since our inception in 2022, we have logged 5471 volunteer service and 3100 advanced training hours!

In retrospect, one of the things I value most about our class is posting our assignments online. While it sometimes seemed a burden to have to write up something each week, everyone had interesting responses to the assignments and I learned a lot from reading all the postings. We also responded to at least 3 postings each week. Often the responses gave you more information about your classmates interests, background, and knowledge which made the class more personal.

Dianne Olson

I was very impressed by the education, backgrounds and experience of the participants in the first group. For example, we had members with extensive experience in astronomy, biology and education. They were all willing to share their knowledge as well as support the mission of the Highlands Center. Truly a stimulating and enriching group.

Tom Benson