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Jason O'Brien

Oregon Master Naturalist Program


Member profile details

Membership level
4. Program Membership - Active and Renewal
First name
Last name
Statewide Coordinator - Oregon Master Naturalist Program
Oregon State University Extension
Address 1
321 Richardson Hall
Address 2
Oregon State University
Zip Code
Program Name
Oregon Master Naturalist Program
Program Mission
The Mission of the Oregon Master Naturalist Program is to develop a statewide corps of knowledgeable, skilled, and dedicated volunteers who enrich their communities and enhance public awareness of Oregon’s natural resources through conservation education, scientific inquiry, and stewardship activities.
Program Description (include how it meets membership criteria)
The Oregon Master Naturalist Program is for anyone interested in Oregon’s natural history and natural resources management who want to dedicate their time as volunteers. The Program provides an opportunity to learn about natural resources through the study of scientifically sound information: the natural history of plants, animals, habitats, and geology, the history and processes of landscape change, as well as the most relevant topics in present-day sustainable natural resource management. Participants volunteer for natural resources programs, agencies, organizations, and other groups in their communities.

To become a certified Oregon Master Naturalist, participants must do the following:

1. Complete the online core statewide coursework.

2. Complete at least one Ecoregion field course.

3. Volunteer for a natural resources affiliated agency or organization. Minimum requirement is 40 hours within the first year.

4. Maintain your certification by completing 8 hours of continuing education and 40 hours of volunteer service annually.
Program Partners
The Oregon Master Naturalist Program is based at Oregon State University in the College of Forestry. It is a Forestry and Natural Resources Extension program. Oregon State University partners include Oregon Sea Grant Extension, Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Extension, and Oregon 4-H Youth Development Programs.

Oregon Master Naturalist is developing a growing number of partners around the state. Examples include: Local County Extension Service, Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Metro Parks and Natural Areas (Portland), Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District, Deschutes Land Trust, Malheur Field Station, and Klamath County Museum.
Curriculum (general objectives and topics, types of instructors, and planned time frame)
The curriculum for the Oregon Master Naturalist Program is divided into two parts:

The Oregon Master Naturalist Online Course is a stand-alone curriculum offered twice a year, Winter and Fall. It serves as the foundation for the field-based Ecoregion Courses, and covers a broad range of natural history and natural resources conservation topics. The material is delivered entirely over the Internet via an interactive online learning platform (Canvas). Topics include:

Oregon Ecoregions - How ecoregions frame the Oregon Master Naturalist Program and help organize Oregon’s natural diversity

Oregon Geology and Earth Processes - Foundational physical processes, earthquakes and tsunamis, and biological connections

Introduction to Watersheds in Oregon - Basic physical, biological, and chemical processes, and watershed management issues

Principles of Ecology and Wildlife Management - Foundational ecological concepts related to wildlife and plant communities, wildlife management history and science

Ecology and Management in Oregon’s Forests - Forest community types, biological & successional processes, forest wildlife, sustainable management strategies, conservation and contemporary issues

Ecology and Management in Oregon’s Rangeland - High desert sagebrush, shrub-steppe and bunchgrass ecology, dryland plant and wildlife adaptations, rangeland management concepts

Oregon in a Changing Climate - Pre-historic climate conditions, contemporary climate trends, basic climate change science, projected impacts on Oregon landscapes

The Ecoregion Course is based upon Oregon's 8 ecologically distinct ecoregions, defined by climate, geology and vegetation patterns. The Oregon Conservation Strategy, adopted and implemented by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, serves as our model. An Ecoregion Course is a set of in-person classes taught within one of these unique ecoregions. Classes are field-based meant to introduce participants to a wide range of ecological topics relevant to the local area where they are taught. Classes delve into geology, terrestrial and aquatic communities, plants, wildlife, wild and working land management issues, and methods of communicating science. These courses continue to evolve as instructors come and go, new partnerships are forged, and in response to annual course evaluations. An increased focus on skills-based trainings and nature study are being developed.

Ecoregions currently offered or in development include:

Oregon Coast Ecoregion

Willamette Valley Ecoregion

East Cascades Ecoregion

Northern Basin and Range Ecoregion

Klamath Mountains Ecoregion (in development)
Describe the service component of your program
Volunteer for a natural resources affiliated agency or organization. Minimum requirement is 40 hours annually.

Qualified Volunteer Service includes*:

Education & Outreach

Volunteer to give an educational and/or interpretive program at a city, county, state and/or federal park. Lead nature hikes, or help develop a visitor guide for a natural area! Many of these places depend on volunteers during peak visitor seasons.

Citizen Science

Volunteer to collect data for an agency. Wildlife and plant surveys, water quality monitoring, and other scientific monitoring are some examples. These surveys are critical for maintaining and managing for biological diversity. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is looking for ways to engage Master Naturalists in meeting goals set forth in the Oregon Conservation Strategy.

Land Stewardship

Volunteer to maintain a natural area, controlling invasive species or restoring native vegetation. Or, perhaps you’d like to assist in maintaining a trail or other public recreation area. If you like to get your hands dirty, this might be your way of volunteering.

Program Support

Nature centers, state and federal park visitor centers, and various natural resources groups need volunteers to work on newsletters, websites, and even meet and greet the public at information stations. This is a great way to give back if you have physical limitations, want to hone your skills in these areas, or just want to contribute in a way that may be less physically taxing.

*As an Oregon Master Naturalist, you are a representative of Oregon State University and Oregon State University Extension, and as such, any volunteering or other activity done while associated with the Oregon Master Naturalist Program CANNOT include activism of any kind (environmental, political, etc.).
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