Toledo’s Metroparks are among the best in the country, and part of that success is due to their many volunteers. The parks annual program to train new volunteers begins in mid-October. It’s called the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program, and it’s co-sponsored by the State of Ohio and the Toledo Metroparks.
“We train participants in education and information, then release them to help spread the word about nature,” explained Amy Stone, an extension educator at Ohio State University.
State specialists come weekly to educate potential volunteers on a variety of topics.
“Everything from soils and geology to fish, trees, shrubs and insects…so it’s all nature’s game,” Stone told us. “Participants complete the training and then are encouraged to volunteer at one of our many Metroparks.”
The program is very flexible and allows volunteers to work when they want and to live their passion.
“We like to match volunteers with their area of expertise or interest,” Stone said. “So it’s sort of a match between what they find valuable and important, and what they really want to do, and then provide that service in our area.”
Mark your calendars: the certification process officially begins on Tuesday, October 11. It lasts 7 weeks and training sessions take place every Tuesday from 9am to 4pm. Once you’ve done all of that, you only need to volunteer 40 hours in the first year, at your own pace, to become certified and make a difference.
“Volunteers are invaluable at Metroparks,” said Kim High, master interpreter at Toledo Metroparks. “They really keep our culture positive and they do so much work for us. We wouldn’t be Metroparks without our volunteers.
It is tailor-made for those who love nature and volunteers often learn from each other. To find the program application, schedule and answers to your questions, go to lucas.osu.edu.
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