Master naturalist classes starting

Interested in nature? Want to increase your knowledge and appreciation of the natural world while helping your communities and the environment? Want to share your appreciation of West Virginia natural wonders with others? Then you might be interested in becoming a certified West Virginia Master Naturalist.

The Tygart Valley Master Naturalist Chapter will host a free public informational meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. on March 6 at the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins Operations Center on Ward Road, across from the airport.

Tommy Zeitz, local master naturalist and the coordinator for the chapter, said that the purpose of the public meeting is to provide information about the program, answer questions and obtain student applications for the coming season’s classes.

Master naturalist training is offered in a broad range of specialties in the fields of natural history and environmental education. Topics include mushrooms, wildflowers, insects, snakes, birds, mammals, weather, geology, fossils, nature interaction and teaching, all from a West Virginia prospective.

To become certified, students must complete 64 hours of classroom and field training. students must also complete 30 hours of volunteer work. To maintain certification, eight hours of continuing education and 16 hours of volunteer time are required each year.

Anyone over 16 years of age, with an interest in natural history, is welcome to take part.

The first hour of the meeting will be a review of the overall Master Naturalist program, with time to answer program questions.

The second half of the meeting will feature a Flying Higher presentation featuring live birds of prey.

Jo Santiago, owner and creator of Flying Higher, works with non-releasable live birds of prey and her presentation is both dynamic and motivational. Guests will learn about the biology, natural history and conservation of hawks, owls and other raptors.

For more information regarding this meeting or about the Tygart Valley Master Naturalist program, contact Zeitz at 304-866-7418