Residents training to be master naturalists

Nature enthusiasts and those wanting to learn more about the natural world gathered this week to learn about a program geared to increase knowledge and appreciation of nature.

Tommy Zeitz, local master naturalist and coordinator for the Tygart Valley Master Naturalist Chapter, met with those attending the public meeting at the state Division of Natural Resources in Elkins Tuesday to provide information about the program, answer questions and obtain student applications for the upcoming season’s classes.

Master naturalist training is offered in a broad range of specialties in the fields of natural history and environmental education with topics including mushrooms, wildflowers, insects, snakes, birds, mammals, weather, geology and fossils, all from a West Virginia perspective.

To become certified as a master naturalist, students must complete 64 hours of classroom and field training. Certification also requires 30 hours of volunteer work. Each year, eight hours of continuing education and 16 hours of volunteer time must be obtained. Class and volunteer hours take about two years to complete, and most classes are offered locally.

Also on Tuesday, Zeitz recognized and presented certificates to the two newest certified master naturalists in the Tygart Valley Chapter. Pete Rykert and Sam Muncy both completed the requirements necessary be certified master naturalists.

More information about the master naturalist program and upcoming classes is available by calling Zeitz at 304-866-7418.