Tennessee Naturalist Program

Inspiring the desire to learn and share Tennessee’s nature!


The Tennessee Naturalist Program (TNP) is an education training program designed to introduce the natural history of Tennessee to interested adults. The program has several chapters located across the state that offer training and environmental education opportunities to interested individuals. 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.

Tennessee State Parks hosts Tennessee Naturalist Program chapters at Cedars of Lebanon State Park, Cumberland Mountain State Park, and South Cumberland State Park.

Mission of the Tennessee Naturalist Program

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 the education of the general public and conservation of Tennessee's natural resources.

What is a Tennessee Naturalist?

Individuals who participate in the program combine their diverse interests, skills, and experiences with the TNP instruction to contribute time, energy, and ideas toward the understanding and preservation of native ecosystems throughout the state. Participants gain a contemporary understanding of native ecosystems through firsthand field experience and classroom sessions covering topics such as ecology, geology, plants, fungi, wildlife, and much more! Upon completion of the coursework, Tennessee Naturalists finish their certification by volunteering 40 hours to a variety of projects, such as outreach at parks, nature centers, and schools.

What do Tennessee Naturalists do?

After receiving training, Tennessee Naturalists may participate in many different types of volunteer activities. These might include assisting in a nature outreach program at a park, museum, nature center, or school; assisting a scientist in collecting bird census data; collecting data on water quality or many other activities.

How Do I Become a Tennessee Naturalist?

To become a certified Tennessee Naturalist, a person must complete a minimum of 40 hours of instruction (20 hours in the classroom and 20 hours in the field) through the TNP training course and perform a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service.

The Tennessee Naturalist Program is a not-for-profit organization. Learn more about Tennessee Naturalist Program Curriculum and Courses at:  www.tnnaturalist.org. For additional information about the Tennessee Naturalist program at Tennessee State Parks, contact Randy Hedgepath at randy.hedgepath@tn.gov.