Pursue your interest to help your community
By ERIC BARRETT
OSU Extension educator
We are looking for a few good nature lovers.
If you want to learn more about nature and be a part of helping nature in our area, then the Certified Volunteer Naturalist Program is for you.
The program begins with about 40 hours of classroom and field instruction. Training topics including birds, mammals, forests, stewardship, geology and much more. Classes take place at the OSU Extension Office in Canfield, along with partner sites across the Mahoning Valley at various nature centers and natural areas.
The volunteer role is to support partners in meeting the needs of our citizens in the area of natural resources by assisting with educational programs, giving guided tours and supporting citizen science in the area.
Depending on the volunteer site chosen, this may include identifying and educating the public about invasive species, diagnosing plant problems, giving public presentations relating to nature, hosting events for the public, staffing educational booths and other various opportunities at nature centers.
After completing training, new volunteers can choose their volunteer site. Current sites that partner with the program are the Beaver Township Nature Preserve, Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center, Ford Nature Center at Mill Creek MetroParks, Huston‐Brumbaugh Nature Center in Minerva, and the Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center, Villa Maria, Pa.
New volunteers agree to perform 40 hours of approved volunteer service within the first year. After certification, they give 20 hours of volunteer service and attend eight hours of advanced training each year to continue learning about new things in nature.
Personal benefits of the program include learning details of nature, including interpretation and ecology, along with the natural history of Ohio from many of the state’s leading experts.
Volunteers become part of a local and statewide network of dedicated volunteers, learning new things all the time while enjoying nature.
Trainees can apply their talents and passion to protecting, restoring and understanding Ohio’s natural treasures.
Interested? Current volunteers are hosting an open house to learn more about the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Program. The event will be an opportunity to meet other volunteers and learn about the program, and for potential applicants to gauge their interest in the program. Join the volunteers from 5:30 to 7p.m. Wednesday at the extension office, 490 S. Broad St., for refreshments and to learn why they love being volunteer naturalists.
The training program begins Jan. 21. To apply visit http://go.osu.edu/2019OCVNapp or call the extension office at 330-533-5538.