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 numerous 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 (WVDNR), and it is administered by that agency. It is open to persons age 16 years and older. The Potomac Valley Audubon Society (PVAS) partnered with WVDNR in 2006 to establish the Potomac Valley Master Naturalist (PVMN) program, which is the official Master Naturalist Chapter for the Eastern Panhandle.
How Do I Become A Master Naturalist?
Enrollment in the Potomac Valley Master Naturalist program is limited to 20 persons a year. Participants receive 62 hours of classroom and field instruction in a broad range of natural history and environmental education topics. Instructional sessions are held one weekend a month from March through October in areas around the WV Eastern Panhandle, often at Cool Spring Nature Preserve (near Charles Town), the National Conservation Training Center (just outside Shepherdstown) and Cacapon State Park (near Berkeley Springs). Exception: the first class in March meets on Saturday and Sunday (a full weekend). Classes only can be attended by PVMN candidates (i.e., Students).
Those who complete the Potomac Valley Master Naturalist 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 community science activities.
Applications for the Potomac Valley Master Naturalist program are made available on this website in late October or early November, and applications must be submitted by January 31. Applications are competitive; enrollment is limited to 20 persons a year. Those selected for enrollment are notified in February.
Cost for the program is $300 which covers all classes and instruction. Partial scholarships are available. Applications for scholarships must also be submitted by January 31. Full payment is expected before beginning the first session.
REGISTRATION FOR 2020 CLASSES IS CLOSED. REGISTRATION FOR 2021 CLASSES WILL OPEN IN NOVEMBER 2020.
For more information about the program, or to request notification when applications are available, contact Krista Hawley at AdultPrograms@PotomacAudubon.org or call 681-252-1387.