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.
Potomac Valley Master Naturalists in the News!
As stated above, Master Naturalists play an important role managing our natural resources, and PVMN continues to be involved in important partnerships with WV government agencies and other organizations, like the WV Division of Natural Resources and Cacapon Resort State Park. Our very own Potomac Valley Master Naturalist, Carol DiSalvo (PVMN Class of 2017), is helping tackle the problem of invasive Oriental bittersweet at Cacapon Resort State Park! Read about it in the October 2020 Wonderful West Virginia magazine; here is the link to the article, A Bittersweet Story.
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.
DUE TO COVID-19, 2020, CLASSES WERE CANCELLED. CLASSES FOR THE CANDIDATES ACCEPTED INTO THE 2020 PROGRAM WILL BEGIN IN THE SPRING OF 2021. AT THIS TIME, NO ADDITIONAL CANDIDATES ARE BEING ACCEPTED FOR 2021.
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.