The Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN) program is a natural resources outreach and service program. The mission of the OCVN program is to promote awareness and citizen stewardship of Ohio’s natural resources through science-based education and community service. Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists provide volunteer service to hundreds of organizations so that their activities and programs can be more effectively and efficiently delivered to the general public.
Ohio has a rich natural heritage but state and local funds to protect this heritage have been declining in recent years. Our state and local park systems, nature centers, and natural areas and preserves rely heavily on volunteers to help deliver programs and educate visitors on the importance of conservation and stewardship of our natural resources, monitor and protect habitat, maintain trails, and monitor for and remove invasive species. As young people and families spend less and less time outdoors, awareness and appreciation for this natural heritage also declines. All around Ohio there are hundreds of individuals, many of whom are retired and seeking opportunities to serve, with a strong desire to share their passion for and knowledge of nature and the environment with others.
The OCVN program is a research-based scientific education program that emphasizes hands-on natural resource education coupled with volunteer service. Participants in the OCVN program receive 40 hours of combined classroom and field instruction and upon completing the instructional program, provide service to their local parks or nature centers. Volunteers become Certified Volunteer Naturalists after completing their 40 hours of service and are required to provide 20 hours of volunteer service and complete eight hours of participants
- 100 participants attended the 2016 OCVN State Conference at the OSU Mansfield Campus. The conference featured presentations by SENR Extension, staff and students.
- New marketing materials were created and updates made to the OCVN education manual.
- Quarterly webinars hosted featuring SENR and CFAES faculty and student research attended by 79 participants.
- New course locations created in collaboration with OSU Extension in Logan and Perry counties.
- $4700.00 in cost recovery generated.
- 142 new volunteer naturalists were certified in 2016 adding to a total number of 549 OCVNs statewide.
- In 2016 alone, OCVNs contributed over 6000 volunteer hours to 79 different organizations.
Examples of 2016 OCVN volunteer service:
- OCVNs helped state and local park systems offer programs including “Owl Prowl” at Caesar’s Creek State Park and “Howling Coyotes” at the Geauga County Park District.
- OCVNs volunteered as trail ambassadors with the Cleveland Metro Parks and helped with trail marking and improvement planning at Somerset Parks in Perry County.
- OCVNs helped with invasive species removal at Arc of Appalachia and Johnson Wood State Nature Preserve.
- OCVNs helped with creek restoration and monitoring at The Wilderness Center and assisted ODNR Division of Wildlife with bat monitoring