Registration opens for the Tennessee Naturalist Program

Registration for the Tennessee Naturalist Program at Bays Mountain Park is now open. Anyone who is interested in learning more about Tennessee’s natural history and how to better maintain it, is encouraged to participate in this 10-week program.

The Tennessee Naturalist Program 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 management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.

Bays Mountain Park has participated in the program since 2015 and has seen dozens of residents complete this educational journey.

“The purpose of the program is to teach Tennesseans about our natural world, to inspire a desire to learn more and instill an appreciation of responsible, environmental stewardship,” said Park Ranger Krystal Haney. “If you have an interest in nature and want to be better educated on our natural world, we hope you’ll join us this spring.”

To become a Tennessee Naturalist, participants must complete a minimum of 40 hours instruction through a TNP training course and perform a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service.

After training, Tennessee Naturalists may participate in many different types of volunteer activities, including 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.

The cost of the program is $350 per person, which includes all classes and class material, hand lens and field notebook. To register, please visit Proceeds from the program benefit the Tennessee Naturalist Program and the Bays Mountain Park Association.

Attire and footwear should be appropriate for hiking and outdoor activities. The first two hours of each class are held indoors, while the last two hours are held outside (weather depending).

Tennessee Naturalist Program Schedule:

  • March 1st (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.): Becoming a Naturalist: Scope, Skills, and Service
  • March 8th (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.): Ecology and Geology: Foundation and Context
  • March 15th (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.): Tennessee Mammals: Creatures of Habitat
  • March 22nd (5 p.m. to 9 p.m.): Nocturnal Naturalist: Tennessee at Night
  • April 5th (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.): The World of Invertebrates: Pollinators, Predators, and Pests
  • April 12th (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.): Tennessee Forests: Seeing the Forest and the Trees
  • April 19th (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.): Birds of Tennessee: Feathered Fauna
  • April 26th (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.): Tennessee Reptiles and Amphibians: Scutes, Scales, and Skin
  • May 3rd (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.): Forbs, Ferns, Mosses, and More: Herbaceous Plants and Fungi of Tennessee
  • May 17thth (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.): Tennessee’s Living Waters: Rivers, Wetlands, and Watersheds

For more information about the Tennessee Naturalist Program, visit or contact Krystal Haney at 423-229-9483 or at