Urban Naturalist program on field trip

Urban Naturalist Program

Become a steward of your urban environment.

In this teeming metropolis we call home, nature is all around us whether we pause to carefully observe it or not. Amaranth springs through the cracks in our sidewalks; migrating warblers rest in our parks; horseshoe crabs scuttle onto our beaches to breed. As an NYBG Urban Naturalist, you will have a unique opportunity to explore these diverse habitats while discovering the keys that unlock their many secrets.

The NYBG Urban Naturalist Certificate Program equips you with the observation, identification, and documentation skills you need to become a citizen scientist and an effective environmental steward. Led by Nancy Slowik and a team of expert naturalists, you’ll use NYBG grounds and select New York City Parks as living labs to investigate the interrelationships between species and discover how our urban environment sustains those ecosystems.

Current NYBG Urban Naturalists are using the knowledge and skills they gained to develop their own projects, help manage invasive species in local parks, and document NYC plant species as volunteers in NYBG’s EcoFlora project.


Meet Our Chief Urban Naturalist

A dedicated naturalist for over 40 years, Nancy Slowik is the former director of Greenbrook Sanctuary, co-founder of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center, and author of two books on local flora. Currently, she consults with Restore Native Plants to provide guidance for a native plant propagation facility and restoration facility in Ramapo Mountain Park Preserve.

Nancy Slowik headshot


Headshot of Cynthia Roberts

Through NYBG’s Urban Naturalist Program, I was able to explore local wildlife that I never knew existed so close by. Through weekly study site visits on the Bronx River, I discovered an American eel, which was a thrilling way to connect with nature! The excitement of sharing this natural history with friends and family inspired me to become a tour guide at NYBG!

Cynthia Roberts

2019 Graduate

headshot of Carloyn Smith

Tagging monarch butterflies was amazing, as were all the other hands-on exercises. We had a great balance of lecture, activities, and exploration. Very few things have made me as happy as the NYBG Urban Naturalist Program.

Carolyn Smith

2017 NYBG Urban Naturalist