When was the last time you stopped to listen to the flute-like song of the wood thrush or learn the name of the frogs seranading from a nearby pond? How long has it been since you explored a creek looking for salamanders, crawdads and marveling at whirligig beetles? When did you last delight in the bracing fragrance of spicebush leaves or in learning the name and lore of a new wildflower? While these experiences were once part of daily living for many, they are disappearing from modern life at an alarming rate.
Bernheim’s Volunteer Naturalist program is a volunteer effort to help individuals recover these experiences in their own lives while learning effective ways to share the knowlwedge, wonder and love that such experiences provides.
At Bernheim we strive to provide training that is intellectually and emotionally engaging. So while you will be expected to learn some basic “hard” science content, you will also find ample opportunities to strengthen your own emotional connection with the natural world.
Our program offers intensive training, yet is flexible enough to fit many busy schedules. Most of the classes are offered on Saturday mornings with occasional evening classes. There are numerous opportunities to interact with the public on weekends and during the week. The focus is on quality, not quantity. While it is possible to complete all the requirements in a year, most likely it will take at least two years to achieve our highest level of certification, Volunteer Naturalist Level 3. A slow and steady involvement allows for deeper interactions with visitors, and mentoring by program leaders and other Volunteer Naturalists.
This amounts to 81 hours of class/field time, 10 – 20 hours completing reflective assignments, and a minimum of 30 hours annually connecting directly with our visitors. You can spread out your efforts to complete course work over a couple of years if you choose. A slow and steady involvement allows for deeper interactions with visitors, and mentoring by program leaders and other Volunteer Naturalists.
The best way to become involved in our program is to sign up for the Volunteer Naturalist Orientation offered in late January prior to a series of trainings that are offered through the year. If you miss the orientation and the first scheduled classes you can apply for a position as a Volunteer Naturalist’s Apprentice.
BECOME A VOLUNTEER NATURALIST TODAY and help others connect with nature.