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  1. #1
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    Default Volunteer Naturalist Program

    So, I enrolled in a course thru Ohio State University and the Licking County Parks District and Soil and Water Conservation to become a volunteer naturalist. Its one day a week, one saturday a month for four months. After that and 40 hours volunteer service I am able to volunteer as a naturalist in most of Ohio's parks.

    I assume there are a few WBers out there that have some experience with this sort of thing. Hoping to get some thoughts, advice, etc. Thanks.

    p.s. Wasn't sure where to post this, so feel free to move it.

  2. #2
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    Excellent Pony. I've done the same at several different Nature Centers in and Master Gardeners State Programs in several different states. It's most often through the Cooperative Extension Service. I was fast tracked because when I began volunteering I already had Horticultural degrees and life experiences in landscape design. Hand in hand it meshed with greater education in geology, ornithology, botany, herpetology, meteorology, fisheries management, water conservation, resource/land management, etc. I warn you; it's addictive. You'll be exposed to different fields. It carries over to having a greater appreciation of the Natural world when backpacking/hiking. And, once gaining experience as a volunteer Naturalist it can be a good resume builder for a SP or NP position or position elsewhere. I personally know of several NP Rangers who started out as Docents usually while in school.

  3. #3

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    Wow - I was about to post a thread asking for thoughts and advice about naturalist programs! I was considering the one offered by the Texas Master Naturalist program.

  4. #4
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    I've only had two classes. The kickoff, which was mostly eating pizza and mingling. Then herpetology. Next week is watersheds. I'm really looking forward to learning about some things that i don't already know about. Seems pretty cool so far.

  5. #5
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    So, I'm nearing the end of this class, and have a few observations. First, the class seems geared toward people with little understanding of the natural world. Thats not a knock on the class, I was just expecting something a little more advanced. Most of the people in the class are either retired or looking for a hobby to fill their free time, and most of the subject matter is new to them. On the other hand I read field guides for fun and get sucked into hours of birding videos on youtube and cornell's website. And of course getting outside and doing the real thing.

    Identifying critters and plants is fun, but my main takeaway from the course has been stewardship and understanding our place in the natural world, not seperate from the natural world. A good deal of the class was devoted to soil and water conservation, best farming practices, etc. One of the more interesting projects underway here in Ohio is a study in cooperation with the arboretum, parks district, and american electric power to plant native grass and wildflowers in powerline corridors. This is helping to restore prairie and grassland that has been long gone in Ohio, and creates wildlife corridors. The power company seems to be on board with this since it reduces their need for pesticides and only needs mowed once a year. It's encouraging to see this kind of cooperation at work.

    Last, it turns out I don't really like people that much, probably why I tend to hike alone, ha ha. Initially I thought I would be leading nature hikes and what not, however, I'm not sure that's my thing. Fortunately the class exposes you to a lot of opportunities to volunteer as a citizen scientist. Most of the research going on isn't well funded and they have a shortage of volunteers for plant collection, bird banding, stream studies, etc. Now I just need to find the time to do some of this stuff. Overall it was worth my time. Thought I would provide a summary for anyone interested in taking a course like this.

  6. #6
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    My "home" set of trails, the University of Mount Union Huston Brumbugh Nature Center (Ohio), has an AEP powerline through the property with the project you mention. A retired science teacher, I am a volunteer trail guide for elementary school groups. Their enthusiasm is rewarding.
    They are the hikers and decision makers of the future.

    Not to hijack this thread, but are there any other such volunteers on White Blaze?

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pony View Post
    So, I'm nearing the end of this class, and have a few observations. First, the class seems geared toward people with little understanding of the natural world. Thats not a knock on the class, I was just expecting something a little more advanced. Most of the people in the class are either retired or looking for a hobby to fill their free time, and most of the subject matter is new to them. On the other hand I read field guides for fun and get sucked into hours of birding videos on youtube and cornell's website. And of course getting outside and doing the real thing.

    Identifying critters and plants is fun, but my main takeaway from the course has been stewardship and understanding our place in the natural world, not seperate from the natural world. A good deal of the class was devoted to soil and water conservation, best farming practices, etc. One of the more interesting projects underway here in Ohio is a study in cooperation with the arboretum, parks district, and american electric power to plant native grass and wildflowers in powerline corridors. This is helping to restore prairie and grassland that has been long gone in Ohio, and creates wildlife corridors. The power company seems to be on board with this since it reduces their need for pesticides and only needs mowed once a year. It's encouraging to see this kind of cooperation at work.

    Last, it turns out I don't really like people that much, probably why I tend to hike alone, ha ha. Initially I thought I would be leading nature hikes and what not, however, I'm not sure that's my thing. Fortunately the class exposes you to a lot of opportunities to volunteer as a citizen scientist. Most of the research going on isn't well funded and they have a shortage of volunteers for plant collection, bird banding, stream studies, etc. Now I just need to find the time to do some of this stuff. Overall it was worth my time. Thought I would provide a summary for anyone interested in taking a course like this.
    Thanks for sharing that. It's valuable insight.

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