Why are wetlands so important? Is it a red spruce or a balsam fir? Was Canaan Valley once a mountain like the Himalayans? Become part of the West Virginia Master Naturalist Program, developed by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, and learn the answers to those and many other questions.
The Canaan Valley chapter is a partner with the CVNWR and a committee of the CVNWR's Friends of the 500th. Participants can become a certified WV Master Naturalist by completing 64 hours of instruction in topics such as general ecology, wetland, aquatic and terrestrial habitats, mammals, insects, amphibians and reptiles, habitat improvement for wildlife and nature interpretation and teaching and 30 hours of nature-related volunteering.
Classes or the Canaan Valley chapter will be offered one weekend a month for four months starting this month, and they will run Friday evenings, Saturday all day and evening and Sunday mornings. Dates for the classes are: April 19 to 21, May 17 to 19, July 19 to 21 and Sept. 13 to 15. There are classroom and field components to most classes. The minimum age for participants is 16.
Most classes will be held at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge's Visitors' Center on Route 32 in Canaan Valley. The cost of the entire program (includes classes and manual) will be $125, which will pay for the cost of instructors and supplies (the program is self-sufficient, we do not make money). People usually pack a lunch and dinner or go out for a quick meal between classes.
For more information about the program, go to the WVDNR website www.wvdnr.gov/wvmn/index.shtm or the State Master Naturalist website www.MNofWV.org. For further information call or email the volunteer local coordinator for the program, Andrea "Andy" Dalton, at ADalton2000@yahoo.com or 304-866-7037. Reservations for those who would like to register are requested as soon as possible.
Classes also are forming in Elkins. The Elkins and Canaan programs cover the same core classes, but with a different type of schedule and different fees.
For more information on the Elkins (Tygart Valley) Master Naturalist program, anyone interested can call Tommy Zeitz at 304-866-7418.