Master Conservationist Program

Planting the seeds of conservation in IowaIowa's Master Conservationist Program logo

The Master Conservationist Program is a collaborative program offered by ISU Extension and Outreach, County Conservation Boards, and local conservation leaders and professionals. The intensive blended online and in-person curriculum is developed to equip Iowans interested in natural resource conservation with the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed decisions about natural resources and to become local leaders and educators. Master Conservationists are individuals that share an interest in the sustainability of Iowa's natural resources and in becoming better stewards of those resources.

The curriculum is structured into four modules that combine technical information presented and curated by Iowa State University researchers and educators with in-person sessions led by local conservation leaders, practitioners, and experts. Module 1 'sets the stage' for the course, exploring the history and current structure of conservation in Iowa and also exploring the landforms and waterways that make up the state's land area. Module 2 digs deep into the structure, function, and challenges facing Iowa's natural prairie, forest, and aquatic ecosystems. Module 3 explores the wide range of conservation practices developed and implemented to address conservation challenges in Iowa. The final and fourth module then examines the human elements of conservation and explores how to communicate the importance of conservation to Iowa and Iowans.

Course graduates are awarded a certificate and encouraged to get engaged locally to apply the information they learn and continue to build their local connections to conservation professionals and other passionate conservationists.

Current and planned offerings

County(s) Dates Contact
Dickinson County August to October 2023 Dickinson County Extension
Black Hawk and Bremer Counties August to October 2023 Black Hawk County Extension 
Madison County March to September 2023 Madison County Extension
Harrison County June to September 2023 Harrison County Extension
Dallas County August to September 2023  Dallas County Extension 
West Pottawattamie County May to October 2023 West Pottawattamie County Extension 
Warren County August to October 2023  Warren County Extension 
Adair and Cass Counties  May to October 2023 Cass County Extension 
Keokuk County August to October 2023 Keokuk County Extension 
Jefferson County August to November 2023 Jefferson County Extension 
Clayton and Fayette County August to September 2023 Fayette County Extension 

*Offerings of the Master Conservationist Program ordinarily start in Spring, Summer, or Fall and are planned during preceeding seasons. Please check back here as offerings are scheduled and promoted for 2023 and beyond!

Are you interested in enrolling in a Master Conservationist Program class?

Offerings of the program are organized and coordinated by county extension offices throughout the state at the discretion of individual offices and partners. If you can't make one of the offerings listed above and want to have an offering in your county reach out to your local county extension office to inquire about future plans.

You can also fill out this form to be notified when an offering is coming to your home county or a nearby county you're willing to travel to.

Calling all program graduates: join us for a statewide meet-up! 

All Master Conservationist Program graduates are invited to attend the first ever graduate meet-up! The goal for this event is to get graduates together to explore different parts of Iowa while providing space for socializing and learning. The event will begin with a dinner and social at the Desoto National Wildlife Refuge on September 29th, followed by a day of field trips around the Loess Hills on September 30th! Graduates can register for the event here!

Download the event flyer for more information! 

Please note that this is only for graduates of the program. Sign up for the next class in your area to attend the statewide meet-up in 2024! 

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach employees interested in learning more about organizing an offering of the Master Conservationist Program can learn more on the Program Catalog description, find resources in the CyBox folder, and communicate with the program coordinator.