BUTLER, Ohio -- Ohio State University Extension will be offering its first Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist conference to meet recertification requirements of program members and create interest among new participants so they can become more effective volunteers.
The Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program is a community-based natural resource education and volunteer program that trains individuals in areas involving environmental issues, state parks, wildlife and other natural science areas. Members then volunteer their time in the community to teach others the value of Ohio's natural resources.
Volunteers receive certification with 40 hours of instruction along with 40 hours of volunteer service on an approved community service project or program benefiting natural resource education or environmental stewardship. Volunteers maintain certification on an annual basis by completing eight additional hours of advanced training, as well as continuing to complete annual service hours.
The Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist statewide conference will offer the hours needed to recertify in the program. The conference will take place Feb. 22-23 at Mohican Outdoor School in Butler, Ohio. Registration is $45 to attend the entire conference, or $30 to attend the Feb. 23 session only.
The conference begins on Feb. 22 with registration at 6 p.m. A session, "Raptors Among Us," will take place from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. and covers a presentation and living exhibition of common raptors, such as red-tailed hawk, screech owl, barn owl, and vulture.
Events on Feb. 23 will take place from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and include such topics as sustainable green technologies; global warming; tree identification in winter; winter patterns among mammals, insects, birds, plants, and nature; and interpretation skills.
Keynote speakers include Jim McCormac, Ohio Department of Natural Resources; and Louis Andres, park manager for Malabar Farm State Park.
Ohio Certified Volunteer Natural program partners include the OSU Extension office in Holmes County and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Additional partners include local park districts, soil and water conservation districts and nonprofit organizations addressing nature and environmental stewardship.
In addition to the statewide conference, a local Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist training program will be held at OSU Extension's Hancock County office in Findlay beginning March 4. Sessions will be held on eight Tuesday evenings and three Saturdays from March 4 to April 29.
Registration is $150, due by Feb. 19, and includes an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist manual and additional resource materials. Topics being addressed include nature interpretation, geology, soils, environmental stewardship, mammals, herpetology, plants, insects, birds, watersheds, aquatic life and forests.
Program partners include OSU Extension in Hancock County, the Hancock Park District, Blanchard River Watershed Partnership, Hancock Naturalists, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, ODNR Division of Forestry, OSU Extension West District, Owens Community College, Toledo Zoo, University of Findlay, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.
For more information on the training program, contact Nancy Kronberg, OSU Extension, at (419) 422-3851.
Since last year, the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program has graduated 115 certified volunteers across Ohio, who dedicated 4,600 hours of community service.