MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County chapter of the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program offers those interested in learning more about Ohio’s natural resources a chance to take courses through The Ohio State University and expand their knowledge.
“The mission of the OCVN program is to promote awareness and citizen stewardship of Ohio’s natural resources through science-based education and community service,” reads the OSU OCVN website.
To become an OCVN, participants must complete the 40 hours of combined classroom and field instruction provided through OSU. Classes for the Knox County chapter take place within the county, with several location options for volunteer work. The Knox County Parks District and Brown Family Environmental Center are common locations for OCVNs to do their volunteer work, said Matt Baugher, Knox County Parks District intern.
Once certification is complete, OCVNs must complete 40 hours of volunteer work the first year after certification, and 20 hours in each subsequent year at any Ohio organization with a compatible program, explained the OSU extension office website.
Advantages of getting the OCVN certification above just doing regular volunteer work is that “there are way more opportunities, as entities essentially trust OCVNs a lot,” said Baugher. He added that through the classes, “OCVNs get specialized training to do things like lead night hikes, run educational programs, start citizen science projects and write articles and kiosk materials.”
Applications to join the program this fall can be picked up and turned in at the Knox County OSU Extension Office, located at 160 Columbus Road. To join the fall program this year, applications are due by today.
For more information, contact OSU Extension Educator Sabrina Schirtzinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-397-0401 or Lori Totman, Parks District director, at loritotman.co.knox.oh.us. or 740-392-7275.