Tennessee Naturalist Program Core Course

"The purpose of the Tennessee Naturalist Program is to teach Tennesseans about our natural world; to inspire in them the desire to learn more; and to instill an appreciation of responsible environmental stewardship."

The Tennessee Naturalist Program (TNP) is anchored by our core course:  1) a minimum of 40 instructional hours on the state's natural history, and 2) 40 hours of approved Tennessee volunteer service.  Instruction covers a range of topics and disciplines including geology and ecology, plants, forests, birds, mammals, invertebrates, reptiles & amphibians, aquatic environments, nocturnal organisms, and naturalist skills.  Each class in the course features both classroom lecture and outdoor field components.  All classes are integral to the core course and may not be taken individually.

If you are interested in taking the course, go to Chapters and choose the chapter or chapters that are convenient for you. Each chapter is a separate, individual entity that sets their own course schedule. Posted "Class Schedules" will tell you when chapter courses typically start. Contact the chapter coordinator to be put on an "interested" list and to be notified when registration opens. Most registrations typically (but not always) open about a month before classes start.

TNP partners with environmental non-profits, state parks, and other organizations who share a conservation ethic and mission to inspire Tennesseans to appreciate and protect the natural beauty and diversity in the state. Several of these partners also serve as TNP chapters, hosting our core course. These chapters set their own class schedules and engage area experts as instructors. 

Students are encouraged to enter their volunteer and continuing education hours into the TNP Student Database. To receive certification, students MUST log their initial required 40 hours of service. To receive award pins for advancement, students must continue to log volunteer and continuing education hours.

The field portion of the course can be physically demanding with rough terrain and night activities. If you have physical limitations, please discuss this with the chapter and/or instructor before the course begins to determine if the planned fieldwork can be modified to suit your needs.