Monday, July 13, 2009

Master Naturalist Program to Offer New Class

Come find out about fun and interesting classes to become a Certified Virginia Master Naturalist. A brief overview of Southwestern Piedmont Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program will precede a free public lecture on reptiles.

Jason Gibson, a Danville biology teacher and nature photographer who has served as president of the Virginia Herpetological Society, will be the guest lecturer.

Jason helps to organize events, called bioblitzes in which teams of scientists, volunteers, and community members join forces to find, identify, and learn about as many different species as possible.

These events give adults, kids, and teens the opportunity to join biologists in the field, participate in bona fide research expeditions, and learn from the experts about biodiversity—both around the planet and in our own backyards.

This is a fun and interesting way for communities to learn about the biological diversity of local parks and to better understand how to protect them. Jason often volunteers to identify, document and report reptiles and amphibians on site.

He will share some of the interesting work he is doing with local turtle populations.

Would you like to learn more about Virginia’s natural environment? Would you like to experience the natural beauty of our region on field trips led by specialists in their field of study? The local chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program is offering a great opportunity to gain a broad overview of the biodiversity, local ecosystems, and geographical treasures found in Southwestern Virginia.

Community members are invited to attend a public informational meeting on July 16th at 6:00 pm at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, in the Mr. And Mrs. L. Dudley Walker Lecture Hall. This is an opportunity to meet with current members of the program and to learn more about the program and the upcoming course of study.

During this brief informational meeting, community members can sign up for a course of study that starts on August 18, 2009. Registration can also be made online by filling out the application provided at the chapter website.

Weekly classes will be taught by a variety of guest speakers, who focus in areas of their specific expertise. Training includes forty hours of classroom sessions and field trips to learn more about our natural environment. Other opportunities for advanced training and volunteer service are easily coordinated once basic training is finished to receive certification. After completing these requirements, chapter members may become Certified Virginia Master Naturalists.

The Virginia Master Naturalists Program is part of a statewide plan designed to train and involve volunteers in natural resource education, management, and conservation activities. The Virginia Museum of Natural History is the sponsoring agency for the Southwestern Piedmont Chapter and helps with certifying Virginia Master Naturalists locally.

Additional information can be found by contacting Denny Casey at 276-634-4184.

Contributed by: Lynn Pritchett

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