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The Tennessee Naturalist Program (TNP) is an education training course designed to introduce the natural history of Tennessee to interested adults. Graduates join a critical corps of Tennessee Naturalist volunteers providing education, outreach and service dedicated to the appreciation, understanding and beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.

The purpose of the TNP is to teach Tennesseans about our natural world, inspire the desire to learn more, instill an appreciation of responsible environmental stewardship and channel volunteer efforts toward education of the general public and conservation of Tennessee’s natural resources. To become a Tennessee Naturalist, a person must complete a minimum of 40 hours instruction through a TNP training course and perform a minimum of 40 hours volunteer service.

After training, Tennessee Naturalists may participate in many different types of volunteer activities, such as helping a nature outreach program at a park, museum, nature center or school, assisting the collection of scientific data for a bird census, water quality assessment or rare plant monitoring, and working with trail maintenance or habitat restoration projects.

Tennessee Naturalist Program Schedule

Fridays 4-8 PM

  • August 17th: So you want to be a naturalist – Introduction to the program
  • August 31st: Forests and trees of Tennessee
  • September 7th: The world of invertebrates: Pollinators, predators, pests and parasitoids
  • September 14th: Forbs, ferns, fungi and more
  • September 21st: Tennessee’s living waters
  • September 28th: Hooray for herbs
  • October 5th: Feathered friends: The birds of Tennessee
  • October 12th: Ecology and geology of TN
  • October 13th: (field part)
  • October 19th: The furry creatures of TN
  • October 20th: (field part)
  • October 26th: Nocturnal Naturalist

Attire and footwear should both be appropriate for hiking and outdoor activities. First two hours are held inside, while the last two hours are held outside; with weather depending. Registration will begin July 9th. The cost is $250, which includes all classes and class material, hand lens and field notebook. You can register in person at the nature center or call the nature center at 423-229-9447 to register over the phone.

For more information, call Krystal Haney 423-229-9483 or email