Master classes announced for naturalist program

The Shenandoah Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist program has announced it will hold 10 weeks of classes, field training and volunteer work from March 15 to May 21 for nature-loving men and women interested in becoming a Master Naturalist.

The 2014 training course involves more than 60 hours of classroom and fieldwork. This is followed by 40 hours of volunteer service and eight hours of advanced training over the next year to become a certified master naturalist.

Classes involve classroom discussions and hands-on work in the field, with a focus on nature interpretation, research skills, wildflowers, trees, insects, fish, mammals, birds, geology, soil science, weather and climate, general ecology, land use, aquatic habitats, reptiles and amphibians.

The program is for anyone age 18 or older interested in natural history. High school students accompanied by a parent or adult who also participates may sign up too.

Classes will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. The cost of the program is $150 and covers materials. A limited number of full and partial scholarships are available. The evening classes will be held at the Blandy Experimental Farm and State Arboretum of Virginia located on U.S. 50, east of U.S. 340. Saturday classes will be held at Blandy and other locations.

Applications are due by Feb. 8. Information: Alex Newhart at vmnshenandoah@gmail.com or call 540-837-1626.

The Virginia Master Naturalist program is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Cooperative Extension, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Museum of Natural History and Department of Forestry.