Master Naturalist Program Volunteer Opportunities

Spotlight on Master Naturalist Volunteers

Two Master Naturalists, Erik Richards and Cara Gentry, donated their time in February to march with staff, partners, and other volunteers of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program during the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Gala Parade. Cara and Erik dressed as a zebra mussel and an emerald ash borer, and helped to hand out tattoos of invasive species along the parade route.

Check out their pictures of the parade and the fantastic costumes!

Some of the opportunities provided on this page may not qualify 100% for credit for Master Naturalist certification, but they are all sure to be interesting and informative! Please contact Kristi Sullivan at prior to attending one of these events for credit pre-approval if you would like to apply your effort towards certification.

Featured Opportunity:

DEC SEEKS LANDOWNERS TO ASSIST WITH WILD TURKEY RESEARCH – Wild Turkey Survival Study to Begin in January; Findings Will Help Assess Fall Season Changes

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the kickoff of the fourth year of a research project on wild turkey survival rates to help improve the management of this popular game bird.
         “DEC and its partners have worked hard over the past three years to better understand why wild turkey populations have changed dramatically in New York,” Acting Commissioner Seggos said.  “This project will provide valuable information on turkey survival and harvest and will help evaluate the changes to fall hunting seasons implemented in 2016. I encourage landowners that have wild turkey on their property this winter to consider participating in this study.”
Studies have shown that wild turkey populations over the past 15 years have declined in many parts of New York State. In an effort to better understand the factors influencing population changes and how these changes affect turkey management, DEC is beginning the final year of a four-year study. This project will help guide management efforts and provide wildlife managers with current estimates of harvest and survival rates for female wild turkeys, or hens.
Beginning in January, DEC will embark on a statewide effort to capture wild turkey hens and fit them with leg bands to obtain accurate data on survival and harvest.  A small number of these birds will also be tagged with satellite radio-transmitters.  All of the work will be done by DEC personnel on both public and private lands from January through March.  The research will be concentrated in DEC Regions 3 through 9.
DEC is looking for landowners in DEC Regions 3 through 9 interested in allowing birds to be trapped on their land, as well as alerting project coordinators when they see turkeys on their property on a regular basis.  Once turkeys are trapped and banded, they will immediately be released at the same location. Not all locations are suitable for deploying capture equipment, so landowners should contact their regional project coordinator to discuss the suitability of their property. Observations of turkey flocks during January through March can be reported to the project coordinator for that region or can be reported using the Winter Flock Survey form found on DEC’s website at:
For more information on this project, contact the regional project coordinator below or DEC by e-mail at “Turkey Study” should be listed as the subject line in any e-mails.

Opportunities throughout New York State
Wildlife and Natural Resource Conservation Volunteer Opportunities in New York State

Cornell’s Arnot Teaching and Research Forest (Van Etten, NY)

  • Invasive species control
  • Wildflower area restoration – invasive/vegetation management
  • Wildflower inventory
  • Conduct amphibian survey
  • Monitor for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
  • Collect harvest data at the deer check station

Contact: Kristi Sullivan, Cornell Dept. of Natural Resources

Cornell Department of Natural Resources

Cornell Department of Entomology

Finger Lakes Land Trust

Cornell Natural Areas

New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation

Frogwatch USA

FrogWatch USA is AZA’s(Association of Zoos and Aquariums) flagship citizen science program that allows individuals and families to learn about the wetlands in their communities and help conserve amphibians by reporting the calls of local frogs and toads. For over ten years, volunteers have been trained to enter their FrogWatch USA information and ongoing analyses of these data have been used to help develop practical strategies for the conservation of these important species.

Contact: Tiffany Vanderwerf Curator of Education Buffalo Zoo 300 Parkside Ave. Buffalo, NY  14214 716-995-6138

County Extension Offices
Broome County

Cayuga County

  • Answer calls from hotline about trees, birds, etc.
  • Outreach programs in the community

Chenango County

Greene County

Oneida County

Wildlife Habitat Showcase Project: A group of Master Gardeners at CCE of Oneida County have been in the planning stages of developing a Wildlife Habitat Showcase for local schools and the community. The goal of the project is to develop a Wildlife Habitat area that can be duplicated or to develop a similar area in their schoolyards. The concept comes on the heels of the importance of and the need for bringing the classroom outdoors. The research is very prevalent on the impact of educating our students with outdoor and hands on activities.The Wildlife Habitat Showcase will feature a small area that will incorporate the existing lands with highlighting the ability to providing food, water, shelter and a place to raise young. The area will also incorporate pathways allowing accessibility for wheelchairs and a location for class presentations. The need of volunteers is great to lay pathways, plant a few small native trees, and participate in program presentations. Contact: Bonnie Collins at Bonnie is a Master Gardener and employee of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County as a Farm Business Community Educator.

Schuyler County

Suffolk County

  • Invasive species pulls/monitoring

Warren County

Wyoming County

  • Nature center and land trust volunteers