September 6, 2022 - 5:25am --

Calling Nature Enthusiasts (Article Appeared in Toledo Blade, 09.06.2022)

I hope last weekend provided an opportunity for you to spend sometime outdoors. While some people had an extra-long weekend, others may have had to work extra as the summer season winds down. No matter the situation, even just 30 minutes outdoors can be enough to refresh and reboot with a walk, a stroll, or simply sitting and enjoying the plants and wildlife around us.

If nature is your thing, we have a program that might be something for you to explore. Ohio State University (OSU) Extension in Lucas County has partnered with Metroparks Toledo to offer the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN) Program in Lucas County. Classes are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, October 11, and run for seven consecutive Tuesdays from 9 am – 4 pm. Classes will run through November 15.

Topics include wildlife, aquatics, soils, geology, trees, nature interpretation, insects, fungi and more! We spend some time in the classroom, but we get outdoors and see, experience, and immerse ourselves in the outdoor environment.

The mission of the OCVN Program 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.

What I feel is an added bonus to the actual class and curriculum, is the learning and sharing from each participant during the class time. Everyone comes with varying levels of experiences and interests – some with a newfound awareness of the outdoors and nature that surrounds us, while others have been experiencing this flora and fauna all their lives. It is a wonderful group to be part of and share a common concentration and passion.

The OCVN program requirements include a 40-hour education course, followed by 40 hours of volunteer service and/or continuing education with a nonprofit agency or organization, which locally would be Metroparks Toledo.

After course completion, OCVNs typically volunteer in the following service categories: Education/Interpretation & Outreach, Community Science, Land Stewardship, and Program Support.

If you are interested in learning more, check out the state’s OCVN website at: Once you get a taste for what the program is all about, you will need to complete an application and return the application by October 5, 2022 for consideration for this fall’s class. The application can be found on the OSU Lucas County website at: It is currently on the home page of county news, but there is also additional information found by clicking Agriculture and Natural Resources, and then scrolling down to the tab, Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist. The cost of the program is $235, which includes a manual, additional hand-outs and covers the travel expenses of some of the presenters brought into speak because of their expertise.

Link to this year's OCVN Application: 2022 Application

If you have any questions about the program, please reach out and I will do my best to answer your questions and share any information that I have.