Frequently Asked Questions



What is our Mission Statement?

The mission of the Idaho Master Naturalist Program is to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to actively work toward stewardship of Idaho's natural environment.

How do I obtain an Idaho Master Naturalist Certificate and why is it important to record my education and volunteer hours?

To obtain your Idaho Master Naturalist (IMN) Certificate you must document 40 hours of Core Education and 40 hours of volunteer work in the twelve months following the date of your first core training class.  Training and volunteer hours must be documented on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) IMN Program Statewide Website,

It is important to record all training and volunteer hours even if you exceed the hours required for your certificate.  Some of the volunteer hours you record will be used by Sara Focht, Idaho Fish and Game's Statewide IMN Coordinator, in order for IDFG to receive matching funds from the federal government.

What if I can't attend a Core Education class?  Are there make-up sessions, or will missing a core class mean that I won't be able to complete the required 40 hours?

We have scheduled extra classes to allow students to complete their requirements if some classes are missed.  Also educational presentations by other organizations that are involved with Idaho's natural environment-for example Idaho Native Plant Society and Snake River Audubon Society-may often be substituted for missed classroom hours. You may also attend another chapter's training class to make up a missed class. There are local chapters in Pocatello and Island Park. When in doubt, check with your chapter leadership first to be sure if a substitute activity will count toward education hours. Generally any activity that supports our mission statement is an acceptable substitute.

How do I find out about Volunteer Opportunities and Continuing Education classes?

The primary place to find out about Volunteer Opportunities and Continuing Education is on the Upper Snake Chapter website: By clicking on the calendar month, you can find out what Continuing Education and Volunteer Opportunities are available.  Different activities are color coded: Volunteer Opportunities (blue), Continuing Education or "Advanced Training" (red), Core Education (yellow) and Organizational Meetings (green).  Clicking on the activity will bring up additional information about that activity. For Volunteer and Continuing Education activities, reminder emails are usually also sent out in the days or weeks prior to the activity.

The Upper Snake Chapter also has a Facebook page: Upper Snake Chapter, Idaho Master Naturalist. "Like" us to receive photos and information about ongoing activities.

James Brower, IDFG Volunteer Coordinator, also sends out e-mails to all IMNs about upcoming IDFG volunteer activities.

What is the difference between the IMN Statewide website ( ) and the Upper Snake Chapter website ( )?

The IMN Statewide website is administered by IDFG's IMN Statewide Coordinator Sara Focht, and is geared toward statewide activities. Information about other chapters, the IMN Volunteer Handbook and Policy Guidelines, and statewide activities are posted on this website. Your volunteer and education hours must be recorded on this website.

The Upper Snake Chapter website reflects our own chapter activities. Our website includes a calendar of volunteer and educational opportunities, a place to blog about your adventures, news about ongoing volunteer activities, a video slideshow and a photo album, as well as links to our Facebook page and other interesting websites. This is your primary source for information on volunteer and educational activities.

Why would I need to log in on our Upper Snake Chapter website?

There are only two features on our Upper Snake Chapter website that require login to access. They are both under the "For Naturalists" tab:

-       The "My Journal" flyout menu item beside the "Member Journals" link, where you are encouraged to keep an online journal, and

-       The link to our "Class Textbook" on the "Recording Hours" page.

All other sections of our chapter website are accessible for viewing without logging in.

How do I record my education and volunteer hours?

Record your Core Education (see Class Syllabus), Continuing Education, and Volunteer hours by logging into the IMN Statewide Website (  Use the login ID and password supplied to you at your first core education class. These should be found on the back of your name tag.

Links for the statewide website and instructions on how to enter volunteer and education hours were given during the first core class. Links and instructions for recording hours are also posted at our Upper Snake Chapter Website under the "For Naturalists" tab.

When I record my Core Education time, do I include the time spent after the lecture when I ask questions and talk with other IMN members?

You may record three hours credit for each core training class that you attend.  Sometimes the actual lecture will not last three hours and it is assumed that everyone will stay after to ask questions and discuss IMN activities with other class members.

For other classes such as Idaho Native Plant Society, etc., record only the time of the actual lecture.

When I record my "Travel Time" and "Volunteer Hours" on the IMN Statewide website, what is included?

How to record travel time and volunteer hours is defined in the Idaho Master Naturalist Program Volunteer Handbook and Guidelines (Revised 11-2011).  These guidelines are copied below.  If you have any questions please contact Sara Focht, IDFG Idaho Master Naturalist Statewide Coordinator at, or (208) 921-6933, for clarification.

 Volunteer Hours:

a. Any time a volunteer is actively working on a volunteer project, including reasonable lunch break times.

b. Any time a volunteer is driving an agency/organization vehicle for volunteer work

c. Any time a volunteer is driving their personal vehicle IF that driving is required to perform the volunteer task.

d. Any time a volunteer is driving to a volunteer activity when an employee (of the agency for which volunteer work is being performed) would be getting paid for the travel time.


Volunteer time does not include normal travel time to a volunteer opportunity where an employee of that organization would not be paid for the same travel time.


Travel Mileage:

a. Any mileage a volunteer puts on their own vehicle to perform a volunteer task.

b. Any mileage a volunteer puts on their own vehicle to get to a volunteer task if that task is further than the volunteer's typical place of volunteering or education classes.


What option should I select for "Main contact organization?"

-       For "Main contact organization" select "Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game," if it is an IDFG volunteer activity.

-       Select "Idaho Master Naturalist Program" for any other volunteer activity, with the caveat that the following conditions must be met:

o    The hours are directly wildlife-related, for example a bird or tracking survey, or the hours are related to direct chapter support.

o    It is an organization which is not recording your hours elsewhere (other than IDFG) in order to obtain matching funds from the Federal Government. This is to avoid "double dipping" by multiple agencies for the same funds.

-       If your hours are being recorded for matching grants by an agency other than IDFG, select that option (if available), or select "Other," and type the agency name in the "Specify your own value" field.

In short, when you select either "Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game" or "Idaho Master Naturalist Program," IDFG will be able to use your volunteer hours toward obtaining matching funds, so long as no other agency is claiming your volunteer time for their own use.

When in doubt, check with IDFG Volunteer Organizer James Brower at

When I finish entering Volunteer or Education hours and click "OK" nothing happens-it doesn't work and my new entry is not recorded. Why?

Make sure you use the "slash" (not "dash") format for entering the date, like this: 1/1/14 or 1/1/2014. Entering the date any other way will not work and your hours will not be recorded.

After I obtain my Idaho Master Naturalist Certificate, can I recertify in following years?

Yes, everyone is encouraged to remain active in the Upper Snake Chapter after their initial certification.  To remain certified you must log 8 hours of Continuing Education and 40 hours of volunteer work per calendar year (January 1 through December 31).  After initial certification, there is no cost for remaining active in the Upper Snake Chapter.


Do you have suggestions for adding to, simplifying, or clarifying our FAQ sheet? Please let one of your Chapter leaders know! We welcome your ideas. Thank you.