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.