Potomac Valley Master Naturalist Program

Our Potomac Valley Master Naturalist Program has proven to be one of our most popular programs.

Master Naturalist Class in session        2011 Master Naturalist Class

What is the Master Naturalist Program?

Relatively new on the scene, Master Naturalist programs are patterned after the Master Gardener Program that has been offered in many states for many years by local extension agents. The basic approach for both programs is to combine education with public service.

West Virginia's Master Naturalist Program is one of the first in the nation. It was established in 2003 by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, and it is administered by that agency.  It is open to persons age 16 years and older.

We partnered with WVDNR in 2006 to establish our Master Naturalist program, which is the official Master Naturalist Chapter for the Eastern Panhandle.

Learn more about our Potomac Valley Chapter, including dates and places for 2015 classes, and find volunteer projects by clicking on the blue links at the bottom of this page.   We're also on Facebook

How it works:

Those who complete our program are certified by the state as West Virginia Master Naturalists. This qualifies them to assist with natural resource activities in various ways, such as volunteering in state parks, assisting educators with instruction, participating in wildlife surveys, and other citizen science activities.

Enrollment is limited to 20 persons a year. Participants receive 64 hours of classroom and field instruction in a broad range of natural history and environmental education topics. Instructional sessions are held weekends from March through October in areas around the WV Eastern Panhandle, often at the National Conservation Training Center just outside Shepherdstown and Cacapon State Park near Berkeley Springs.

Program participants must also complete a minimum of 30 hours of volunteer service to become fully certified. To remain certified, they must participate in 8 hours of training and 16 hours of volunteer service every year.  Here is a list of citizen science projects (although there are others!)

The cost to enroll is $300, which covers all classes and instruction for you to complete the program. Partial scholarships are available.

Upcoming Classes:

Our 2016 classes will begin in March.  Application forms for the class and for scholarships are found at the bottom of this page. The 2016 schedule will be posted soon. Click here to view the 2015 schedule. Please note that the schedule is subject to change after being posted.

Volunteer Opportunities:

Be A Class Host:  Varying dates.  Host a Master Naturalist class by helping to set up the room, preparing materials, introducing the speaker, and handling questions concerning the day.  It's a great way to get to know the new students and review the course material.  Contact Melanie Snyder (littleowl48@hotmail.com) for more details.

Weed Warriors Invasive Removal at Yankauer Preserve:  Next volunteer project to be announced.

Class Dates

Dates and Locations of 2015 Master Naturalist classes: All day classes are generally held from 8:00 - 5:00.  

March 21 and March 22:  Cacapon State Park, Berkeley Springs, WV

April 25: National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) Shepherdstown, WV

May 16: CraftWorks, Jefferson County, WV

June 20:  National Conservation Training Center (NCTC), Shepherdstown WV

July 18: Cacapon State Park, Berkeley Springs WV

August 15: NCTC, Shepherdstown WV

September 26 & 27: NCTC, Shepherdstown WV

October 18: Extra Instruction Day (if needed)

October 31:  PVMN Chapter Annual Meeting, Shepherdstown WV

Download a PDF copy of the schedule here. (schedule is subject to change)

How to Apply:

PVAS typically makes program applications available on this website in late October or early November, and applications must be submitted by mid to late January. Applications are competitive. Those selected for enrollment are notified in early February.

For more information about the program, or to request notification when applications are available, contact Krista Hawley at AdultPrograms@PotomacAudubon.org or call 703-303-1026. 

Forms For Master Naturalists

Annual Recertification Form

Annual Volunteer Release For Master Naturalists (WVDNR)

Annual Liability Release For Master Naturalists (PVAS)

          © 2014 Potomac Valley Audubon Society

              P.O. Box 578 • Shepherdstown, West Virginia 25443
              phone // 304-676-3397

Kristin Alexander, Executive Director
phone // 304-676-3397 

Ellen Murphy, Program Director
phone // 304-676-8739 

Krista Hawley, Adult Program Coordinator
phone // 703-303-1026
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