The Potomac Valley Master Naturalist Program is now accepting applications for its 2014 classes.
Applications must be postmarked by Jan. 14, 2014. Candidates will be notified of their selection in February.
Instruction will begin in March 2014 and continue monthly through October. As is the case each year, enrollment will be strictly limited to 20 people.
Established in 2007, the Potomac Valley Master Naturalist Program is sponsored by the Potomac Valley Audubon Society and is an official chapter of the State of West Virginia's Master Naturalist Program.
The Master Naturalist program is patterned after the long-established Master Gardener program.
It trains individuals in the fundamentals of natural history and nature interpretation as a way of promoting responsible stewardship of natural resources.
Graduates become part of a group of highly qualified volunteers who are certified as Master Naturalists by the state. With this certification, they can assist government agencies, schools, and non-government organizations with research, outdoor recreation development and environmental education and protection.
Application forms and more details are available on the Potomac Valley Audubon Society website at www.potomacaudubon.org. Scholarship applications are also available there. For more information, contact Krista Hawley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So far, 85 people have been certified through, and remain active in, the Potomac Valley Master Naturalist Program.
In all, 64 hours of classroom time and 30 hours of volunteer work are required to complete the certification cycle. Some people complete this cycle in one year; others take longer.
Anyone with an interest may apply. Most who enroll come from Jefferson, Berkeley and Morgan counties. Interested persons who live outside those areas are welcome to apply, but they must commit to completing all their volunteer work in West Virginia.
Tuition is $300 per person for the full course of instruction. A limited number of scholarships will be available.
Some of the program's classes will also be available on an individual basis for persons interested in sampling natural history topics without committing to the entire program. Individual classes will cost $30 each on a space-available basis.