What is the Master Conservationist Program

The Iowa Master Conservationist Program gives Iowans hands-on interaction with the diversity of Iowa’s natural resources.  The program teaches about wildlife and plant communities, and provides accurate information on a broad range of conservation issues. Ultimately, it provides individuals the resources to make informed, intelligent choices for a sustainable lifestyle. “Mastering” is a journey, and this course is the first step.

People are welcome from all backgrounds and ages. Participants are Iowans who share an interest in preserving Iowa’s natural resources, and a willingness to learn how they can contribute to their community and their environment.

The experience is unique and adaptable for each individual. Participants receive at least 32 hours of indoor and outdoor hands-on education led by trained professionals in various natural resource fields. Each session provides information and hands-on experiences on topics including:

  • physical environment
  • ecological principles and techniques
  • wildlife diversity
  • woodlands
  • prairies and grasslands
  • wetlands and waterways
  • sustainable agriculture and land use, and
  • energy use and waste reduction.

The range of topics provides information that can be useful in service to the community and in individuals' own backyards

The Master Conservationist Program is about applying what is learned to the everyday.  Each participant is asked to contribute at least 32 hours of volunteer service upon completion of the course.  Previous activities have included prairie planting and seed harvesting, water quality testing, wildlife monitoring, staffing conservation centers, and conducting educational programs for youth and adults. Once a participant has completed both the course and volunteer service, they become Master Conservationists.

If you are interested in becoming a Master Conservationist, please visit the Course Schedule above to sign up in a county near you.

The Iowa Master Conservationist program was developed in 1998 with partial support of grants from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.  The Leopold Center continues to provide all participants with a copy of A Sand County Almanac, written by the Center's namesake and native Iowan, Aldo, Leopold.

Leopold Center