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Michele Richards

Pennsylvania Master Naturalist


Member profile details

Membership level
4. Program Membership - Active and Renewal
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Address 1
197 Montour Road
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Program Name
Pennsylvania Master Naturalist
Program Web Site URL
Program Mission
The mission of Pennsylvania Master Naturalist is to develop a corps of knowledgeable volunteers to provide outreach and service dedicated to the conservation of natural resources and natural areas within their communities across Pennsylvania.
Program Description (include how it meets membership criteria)
Pennsylvania Master Naturalist is a nonprofit organization that aims to connect people with their local ecosystems through intensive natural science training and local conservation service work. We offer a community-based certification volunteer program in natural history targeting community members interested in donating their time in parks, nature centers, conservation districts, land conservancies, schools, and other organizations that offer opportunities for engaging citizens in our natural heritage. Pennsylvania Master Naturalist works closely with a coalition of community and conservation partners to ensure they have the necessary volunteer leadership to address their most pressing natural resource conservation education and stewardship needs.

Program goals include building a knowledgeable corps of volunteers to enhance conservation education, outreach and service efforts throughout Pennsylvania, increase public awareness of Pennsylvania’s natural history, ecology, conservation and management, and cultivate effective, productive and interdisciplinary partnerships among natural resource agencies, organizations, community groups and citizens.

The Pennsylvania Master Naturalist candidate is initially trained in 55 hours of classroom and field instruction dedicated to the natural history of their local ecoregion. After completing their training, participants develop and submit a volunteer service proposal under the sponsorship of a local organization. In their first year following their initial training, trainees need to complete a minimum of 30 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of continuing education or advanced training specific to their particular interests. Once participants complete these first- year requirements, they are certified as Master Naturalist volunteers. To maintain certification, volunteers must meet the annual service (20 hours/year in the 2nd year and beyond) and continuing education (12 hours/year in the 2nd year and beyond) requirements of the program.
Program Partners
Pennsylvania Master Naturalist is a collaborative initiative and involves the cooperation of hundreds of state, regional and local partners in each eco-region to implement training and service activities.
Curriculum (general objectives and topics, types of instructors, and planned time frame)
Pennsylvania Master Naturalist has divided the state into four (4) curriculum modules identifying five ecoregions (defined by EPA level II ecoregions): Appalachian Forests, Mixed Woods Plains, Atlantic Highlands and a unit that combines Southeastern Plains and SE Coastal Plains. The Pennsylvania Master Naturalist candidate is initially trained in 55 hours of classroom and field instruction dedicated to the natural history of their local ecoregion. Teaching involves outdoor activities, PowerPoint slides, suggested resources including a comprehensive training manual developed for the course, and interaction with other students and instructors. Participants learn the definition of and significance of naturalists and natural history, the biogeography of Pennsylvania, including the physiographic regions and the geological and ecological aspects that make them distinct, basic concepts of ecology and geology, basic natural resource management principles, some native flora and fauna in the region, the art of nature interpretation, the roles of state and local agencies in the management and conservation of natural resources, and other topics as related to the local needs of the region.
Describe the service component of your program
A minimum of 30 hours in first year and 20 hours of service annually in subsequent years to maintain status as a PA Master Naturalist volunteer.
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