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.  If you would like to view some of our pre-recorded content, it is located at: 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 county Extension offices, 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 and 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, Community 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. Photo credit: Anne Baird


    Apr 15, 2022

    To learn more about wildflowers such as Bloodroot and Dutchman's Breeches, check out the Warren County Park District's and OCVN David Woehr's newly created videos featuring pictures of spring wildlflowers and their natural histories.

  2. Nature Now

    Apr 15, 2022

    Nature Now by Andrew Hoffman, Ph.D., Postdoctoral researcher School of Environment and Natural Resources Terrestrial Wildlife Ecology Laboratory

  3. Pollinator Partnership Project Wingspan

    Nov 10, 2021

    Pollinator Partnership's Project Wingspan is expanding and now seeking farms in Ohio that are interested in partnering to create/enhance pollinator habitat as well as volunteers interested in becoming trained seed collectors.