Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Courses

For the latest information and registration on the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist 40-hour education courses, please consider joining our list serv https://ocvn.osu.edu/about-ocvn and/or contact the local course host of the location in which you are interested.  Our course listings can be found at: https://ocvn.osu.edu/find-course. We have a limited number of course options but hope to be adding to these next year.  If you would like to view some of our pre-recorded content, it is located here: https://ocvn.osu.edu/training-opportunities-experience-and-credit-hours

Welcome to the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Program

The Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN) program is an environmental and natural resources outreach and service program led by OSU Extension in collaboration with parks and arboretum. The mission is to promote awareness and stewardship of Ohio’s environment and natural resources through science- based education and community service.  The OCVN education course helps participants gain practical knowledge of Ohio’s diverse ecology, environmental education and interpretation techniques, and the skills needed to participate in education and outreach, community science, program support, and stewardship activities.   

The OCVN program requirements include a 40-hour education course at an approved location followed by 40 hours of volunteer service and/or continuing education with a nonprofit agency or organization.  The participant selects where to volunteer.  The volunteer service should be with a nonprofit organization and/or agency with a compatible program mission.  The volunteer service must be completed in Ohio.  To maintain certification participants can volunteer and/or participate in 30 hours of continuing education.  The continuing education should be with an agency or organization with a compatible mission but does not need to be in Ohio.  Participants can also choose to take the course but not volunteer. 

The OCVN Program Director is located in The School of Environment and Natural Resources on the Columbus Campus. The role of the Program Director and support staff is to:

  • Create and update the course curriculum.
  • Offer continuing education for course hosts and OCVN participants.
  • Promote volunteer service and continuing education opportunities; and
  • Issue certifications.

Course hosts manage and offer the 40-hour education course which includes classroom and field work for their region by building onto the statewide curriculum components with local and regional content.  After course completion, OCVNs typically volunteer in the following service categories: Education/Interpretation & Outreach, Community Science, Land Stewardship, and Program Support.

How to Become an OCVN:

          1. Complete the 40-hour OCVN course at an approved location.  To find an approved OCVN course location near you go to Find a Course.  

          2. Volunteer and/or complete 40 hours of additional continuing education.  Once you have completed your coursework, you volunteer for a nonprofit organization that has a similar mission for a minimum of 40 hours and/or complete and additional 40 hours of continuing education after completing your coursework.  After course completion, OCVNs typically volunteer in the following service categories: Education/Interpretation & Outreach, Citizen Science, Land Stewardship, and Program Support.  See 'About Us' for more details. 

          3. Maintain your certification. To maintain your status as an OCVN you must continue to volunteer and/or complete additional continuing education for a minimum of 30 hours per year.


  1. Acorn Collectors Needed!

    Sep 16, 2021

    Laura DeWald could use more volunteers to collect acorns for the White Oak Genetics project.  Anyone interested in participating in this project?  Check out the attached information.

    See updated project summary and acorn collecting instructions.

  2. Mysterious Illness Affecting Ohio Birds Update

    Jun 28, 2021

    From Marne Titchenell

    As of September 8, below is from the ODNR, Division of Wildlife’s webpage on the bird illness.

    The Ohio Division of Wildlife is lifting its previous recommendation to stop feeding birds. However, caution and vigilance are always necessary to help prevent further spread of diseases at bird feeders.

  3. A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun

    Nov 24, 2020

    Who was a giant among men in the early 20th century? A women, Cincinnati native Dr. E. Lucy Braun. Assertive, brilliant, driven and dedicated, E. Lucy Braun was a pioneering figure in the newly accepted field of plant ecology. She was a scientist, educator and conservationist with remarkable abilities to lead and inspire others to the benefit of the natural world. Her extraordinary life is compellingly documented in the film, A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun, a co-production of Meg Hanrahan Media and Voyageur Media Group.