John Hoff with students

Teacher Naturalist Riveredge Nature Center


A Teacher Naturalist (TN) is a Riveredge-trained teacher, who leads environmental education programs for school age children. Through hands-on, inquiry-based discovery, a TN helps to develop within students an understanding of their relationship with and sense of responsibility for the earth and its plant and animal life. Teacher Naturalists are the backbone of the Environmental Education Field Trip program for schools. Teacher Naturalists, with support from the Environmental Education staff, co-teach and lead 2 to 5 hour educational programs such as Pond Interactions, Life in Winter, Maple Sugarin’, Fruits of Fall and Wisconsin’s Glacial Landscape.

Riveredge provides up to two years of structured training for Teacher Naturalist volunteers. The first year of the program is focused on learning basic environmental literacy, natural history and exemplary environmental education techniques. The second year of the program places volunteers in an internship experience where they are carefully mentored and evaluated as they teach. (We recognize individuals come with their own skill level and will be flexible enough in our program requirements to accommodate those with no experience to those who have extensive natural sciences or teaching skills.)

Volunteer TEACHER NATURALIST (TN) Job Description

Volunteer TN Definition: A TN is a Riveredge-trained teacher of environmental education programs for school age children. Through hands-on discovery, a TN helps to develop within people an understanding of their relationship with and sense of responsibility for the earth and its plant and animal life.


Desire to learn and to make a difference.

Possess a positive attitude and a warm enthusiastic personality.

Interest in being with children from grades K – 8.

Ability to teach outdoors, in a variety of seasons and weather conditions.

Readiness to make a professional time commitment of approximately one half day a week.


During the first year, participants will complete the New TN Orientation and observe school programs being taught by TNs and Environmental Educators. As the new TN feels comfortable, she/he will begin to team teach and/or teach alone. New TNs are strongly encouraged to join the entire education team at TN Training Days. (TN Days are monthly training and enrichment days for all TNs and Environmental Educators.)

During the second year, TNs will continue to increase the amount of programs they can teach by doing occasional observations of additional programs. TNs are encouraged to join the entire education team at TN Days.

Rewards – Powerful and pleasant are the rewards of volunteering!

This is an awesome learning opportunity! You will deepen and expand your knowledge base through attending TN Training Days and through observing and teaching programs to school groups. You will also learn to utilize the many resources available: staff, equipment, library, and sanctuary.

Experience the exhilaration of helping young people discover new things about themselves and their environment.

A special camaraderie develops as you share work with a diverse but like-minded group of adults.

You get a psychological and physical breather from your “regular” life.

Know that YOU are really making a difference!

The MEC supports the people and work of Greater Milwaukee’s environmental community. We foster collaboration through shared space and resources, incubate new initiatives, and activate diverse champions for a clean and healthy environment.