Master Naturalist classes have been offered in Canaan Valley since 2006. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources program includes 64 hours of instruction and 30 hours of volunteer work to become a Certified Master Naturalist.
Topics of courses include mammals, insects, wildflowers and weeds, terrestrial, aquatic and wetland habitats, and habitat improvement for wildlife among many others. Courses involve lecture and usually a field component. The minimum age for the classes is 16.
A minimum of 12 people are needed for a class this year in Canaan Valley. The Canaan Valley program has recently been offered in four very compressed weekends for people from out of the area to be able to complete the coursework in a minimum number of weekends.
Master Naturalist class weekends this year will be April 4-6, May 16-18, July 11-13 and Aug. 1-3 at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitors' Center on Route 32 in Canaan Valley.
The May 17 class will be in Elkins in conjunction with the Tygart Valley Chapter. Classes will be from 6-9 p.m. Fridays, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m. to noon Sundays. Those attending are asked to bring their lunch and dinner. Cost for the program will be between $125 and $150 depending on the number of students. The fee includes a $40 manual from DNR.
If you think you may be interested in the program or have questions, email ADalton2000@yahoo.com or call 304-866-7037 as soon as possible. A decision will be made by the last week in February if the program will be conducted.
The Tygart Valley Master Naturalists will offer the Master Naturalist program in Elkins again this year on a more relaxed schedule of two classes each Saturday once a month for most of the year. If you prefer this format, call Tommy Zeitz at 304-866-7418 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.