Anyone who is interested in animal habitats or learning how to identify birds, trees, flowers and amphibians in the area might want to check out the West Virginia Master Naturalist Program.
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources began the West Virginia Master Naturalist Program in 2004 by providing weekends of classes to provide the necessary 64 hours of coursework for individuals to become West Virginia certified master naturalists. Thirty hours of volunteer work is also required.
The Canaan Valley chapter of the West Virginia Master Naturalist program, a committee of the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge's Friends of the 500th, will offer classes one weekend a month for four months starting this April. Classes will run Friday evenings, all day Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Dates for the classes are: April 13-15, May 18-20, Aug. 24-26 and Sept. 14-16. The subjects of classes include birds, ecology, wetland habitats, terrestrial habitats, mammals, wildflowers, trees, amphibians and reptiles among others. There are classroom and field components to most classes. The minimum age for participants is 16.
Most classes will be at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge's Visitors' Center on Route 32 in Canaan Valley. There is a charge for the classes. People usually pack a lunch and dinner or go out for a quick meal between classes. Special rates might be available for lodging.
More information about the program is available at www.wvdnr.gov/wvmn/index.shtm or www.MNofWV.org. Those who wish to register are asked to do so as soon as possible by contacting the volunteer local coordinator for the program, Andrea "Andy" Dalton, at ADalton2000@yahoo.com or 304-866-7037.