If you’d like to combine service to nature and the community with an in-depth personal learning experience, Bernheim’s award-winning Naturalist Program is for you. The Naturalist Program begins each winter and creates a volunteer community through an inspired curriculum where volunteers will significantly increase their knowledge of the local environment. That knowledge can then be used to lead various Bernheim educational programs and hands-on discovery stations at events and programs. Naturalists are required to volunteer at least 60 hours per year.
Here’s what Volunteer Naturalist Tara Eudy had to say about how the training transformed her view of Bernheim in particular and the natural world in general:
“The program is encouraging me to slow down and look closer at the world around me. Where I once found Bernheim to be a beautiful and peaceful retreat, The ‘About Bernheim’ course, our first course in the series of training opportunities, helped me to look closer. The forest was brought to life by the vision of Isaac Bernheim – a man with a story as inspiring as the land itself. This land, once scarred by decades of salt and iron ore mining, has blossomed into the 16, 137acres of beauty we enjoy today due to his unrelenting desire to connect people with nature. The old me would always admire the trees. After a guided hike through the hollies with a seasoned Naturalist on an ECO Kids Saturday, now I look closer. I notice and appreciate the vast diversity of the Holly family, the uniqueness of the hackberry tree’s bark, and realize that some of our trees are vanishing from the face of the earth. The old me would be happy to capture a shot of a picture perfect pile of rocks next to a stream. After the Geology 100 class, I now take a closer look. I could spend hours looking at rocks, trying to identify New Albany Shale or even Louisville Limestone, hinting of a time millions of years ago when Kentucky lay under an ancient sea.The old me would focus only on avoiding an accident on I65. I now take notice of the elevation change between Bernheim and Elizabethtown, realizing that I’m driving up onto the Mississippian Plateau. After the ‘Plants of Bernheim’ class, I appreciate the fact that my yard is more than just “green”. Rather, it is a community of floral life – Butterweed, daisy flea bane, mock strawberry, red dead nettle, and of course dandelion. Not only has Bernheim inspired me to look closer, but also to listen closer.”
Orientation for the program occurs each January, though there are opportunities to begin working with the Volunteer Naturalists throughout the year.
Contact Interpretive Programs Manager, Wren Smith for more details.