Lakehead University expands Ontario Master Naturalist Program

Photo of students birding.

Getting out into the field will be part of the Ontario Master Naturalist Program (OMNP) at Lakehead University’s Thunder Bay campus this summer. The inaugural session is open to naturalists and those interested in environmental stewardship.  Photo credit: Ontario Nature.

May 24, 2017 – Thunder Bay, ON

Lakehead University will be offering its innovative Ontario Master Naturalist Program (OMNP) at the Thunder Bay campus starting this summer.

Aimed at naturalists and those dedicated to environmental stewardship, the program, which launched in 2015 at the Orillia campus, is a partnership with Ontario Nature designed to broaden participants’ knowledge and expertise of the natural world through formal training and guidance.

A first-of-its-kind in Canada, the program is passionately spearheaded by award-winning Orillia-based naturalist Bob Bowles.

“There is such a strong, active naturalist community out there that has a great appetite for the type of research and education that this program provides,” explained Bowles. “Many naturalists have taught themselves through their own independent field-work, but we are hoping that this program will also help to provide the foundation from which naturalists, new and old, can expand their studies and research.”

Plants, insects, reptiles, birds, rocks and wetlands are just a few of the topics that participants will delve into during the program. In Thunder Bay, the inaugural session will run from July 10 to 16, and involves seven modules that combine fieldwork and in-class instruction.  Participants will also complete 30 hours of volunteer service for a non-profit organization involved in environmental or naturalist work.

Although not an accredited university course, participants will receive a certificate for completing the Master Naturalist program. 

“The program not only enhances education about conservation issues, but it gives many naturalists – those who care deeply about the environment – the opportunity to be formally recognized,” said Caroline Schultz, Executive Director, Ontario Nature.

“Bob connects Lakehead with the vibrant community of naturalists across the province of Ontario, and the expansion to Thunder Bay will add an exciting new facet to this incredible program,” said Dr. Linda Rodenburg, Coordinator of Community Programs at Lakehead’s Orillia campus.

Now in its third year, the program has grown to include a spring segment at both Orillia and Thunder Bay campuses, four fall sessions, and two winter workshops. Since 2015 close to 200 people have participated in various components of the program.

Details, including registration information, can be found online at, or by contacting





Media: For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Media Relations Officer, at (807) 343-8177 or



Lakehead University has about 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff in 10 faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies. In 2016, for the second consecutive year, Re$earch Infosource ranked Lakehead first among Canada’s undergraduate universities. Visit


Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters, and 150 member groups across Ontario. For more information, visit