Junior & Teen Indiana Master Naturalist

Nature Discovery & Service Learning Programs for Youth

The mission of the Junior and Teen Indiana Master Naturalist (IMN) program is to bring together natural resource specialists with young people, ages 9 to 17 years, to foster an understanding of Indiana’s plants, water, soils and wildlife, and promote volunteer service in local communities.

Merry Lea hosts two Junior & Teen IMN program series in collaboration with Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site.

These programs feature various nature topics for local youth to discover Indiana’s outdoor world through hands-on activities, outdoor investigations, volunteering, and learning from local experts across different career paths, interests and organizations.

Junior & Teen Indiana Master Naturalist Summer Day Camp

This weeklong summer day camp includes activities like canoeing glacial lakes, exploring Merry Lea Teaching Farm, fishing, learning about current research projects, removing invasive species and more.

When: July 17 - 21, 2023

Junior & Teen Indiana Master Naturalist Summer Day Camp

Junior & Teen Indiana Master Naturalist Series

Junior & Teen Indiana Master Naturalist Series

During the academic school year, Merry Lea and Gene Stratton-Porter host a monthly 8-session series, with each session focusing on a different nature topic. Topics often include geology, zoology, botany, nature photography, interpretation, wetlands and more.

When: Sept – May | Third Thursday each month
Scroll down for the current sessions for the 2023-24 school year.

Junior & Teen IMN 2023-24 Series

1. Wildflowers are Wondrous

Join us for a quick lesson on basic plant and flower anatomy. Then, armed with a field guide, we will go on a hike and learn how to identify wildflowers that are growing at Merry Lea.

Session Experts: Ann Kline, Purdue Extension Noble County
September 14
Location: Merry Lea – Learning Center | 2388 S 500 W, Albion, IN 46701

2. Plants Through Time

Native people have been using plants across our landscape for thousands of years! Join a local plant expert in learning about Miami history and culture, with special emphasis on her love for the plants native to our area and their various uses for food, medicine and everyday functions.

Session Expert: Dani Tippmann, Citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma & Plant Tradition Bearer
October 12
Location: Merry Lea Farmstead | 2152 S 425 W, Albion, IN 46701

3. Zoology & Art

Details TBA

Session Experts: Aly Munger, Wetland Educator – Little River Wetlands Project
November 9
Location: Merry Lea – Farmstead | 2152 S 425 W, Albion, IN 46701

4. Where do I go from here?

What careers are out there in the field of Natural Resources? What can students do now to help prepare them for this career in the future? Students will become familiar with natural resource jobs at the local, state and federal levels as well as their areas of responsibility. 

Session Experts:

  • Carla Gull, Coordinator of Masters of Art in Environmental Education & Associate Professor at Merry Lea. She hosts a podcast, Loose Parts Nature Play; facilitates an international group, Loose Parts Play; is coauthor of the book, Loose Parts Learning in K-3 Classrooms, and presents workshops, presentations, and academic research around loose parts, tree climbing, STEM outdoor classrooms, and nature based education. 
  • Kayla Beasley, Associate Director of Communications and Marketing at Merry Lea. She promotes their stories, programs, events and other opportunities in pursuit of strengthening Merry Lea’s mission. She also creates and edits the Merry Leaflet, social media outlets, website, news releases, brochures, assists with donor communications and more. Kayla has a degree from Purdue University in Agricultural Communication and a minor in Sociology with a background in horticulture, graphic design and photography.

Date: December 14
Location: Merry Lea – Learning Center | 2388 S 500 W, Albion, IN 46701

5. Scat!

Details TBA

Session Expert: Jessica Merkling, Urban Wildlife Biologist – Indiana Department of Natural Resources
January 11
Location: Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site | 1205 Pleasant Point, Rome City, IN 46784

6. Rocks/Geology & Historical with GSP

Details TBA

Session Experts: Tiffany Parker, Northern Regional Manager at Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites
February 8
Location: Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site | 1205 Pleasant Point, Rome City, IN 46784

7. Misc. Interpretation

Details TBA

Session Experts: TBA
March 14
Location: Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site | 1205 Pleasant Point, Rome City, IN 46784

8. Wetlands/Pond Dip

Details TBA

Session Experts: TBA
April 11
Location: Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site | 1205 Pleasant Point, Rome City, IN 46784

Program Details

Ages & Times

Junior IMN: ages 9 – 12 | 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Teen IMN
ages 13 – 17 | 1 – 4 p.m.

Junior and Teen IMN age limits are determined by the student’s age as of April 20, 2023. If there are different ages in the same family, the parents can decide which session they’d like their students to attend (together or separate).


Cost: $100/child for all 8 sessions
This covers books, snacks, patches for completion awards, administrative fees and various program supplies. Fee is due in full upon registration and is non-refundable.

Sign-ups: Students must register for the entire series (all 8 sessions), not individual programs.

Student Expectations to Receive Certification

  • Participate in at least 6 out of 8 course sessions
  • Complete volunteer service with a local or state natural resources organization
    • Junior IMN: 6 hours
    • Teen IMN: 12 hours
  • Complete a pre- and post-survey during the first and last course sessions

Expectations for Participation & Conduct

We expect all students to demonstrate respect for fellow students and teachers at Merry Lea.

Outdoor education involves exposure to some natural hazards like trips and falls, insect bites and stings and irritating plants. Merry Lea educators try to minimize these risks. It is imperative that students listen to directions in order to maintain safety out on the trails and inside the facilities.

Masking is optional indoors and outdoors according to individual choice and health needs. Please be kind and respectful in all settings, and honor everyone’s choices about masking.

All offerings are aligned to Indiana Academic Standards, and are designed to support your student’s academic and outdoor learning. Please review our Scheduling Policies page with any questions about scheduling a program, cancellation policies, program logistics and registration.