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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


The mission of the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN) program is to build awareness of Ohio’s environment and natural resources through science-based education and community stewardship.

The OCVNs role is to support partners as their volunteers in meeting the needs of our citizens in the area of natural resources education.

Activities Include:

  • Identifying and educating the public about invasive species
  • Diagnosing plant problems
  • Giving public presentations relating to nature
  • Hosting events for the public
  • Staffing educational booths and other various opportunities

The formal training program is the responsibility of the OCVN coordinator or committee managing the program. Instructors are OSU faculty, ODNR professionals, Extension Specialists, Extension Associates, experienced Volunteer Naturalists, and other experts.

The training program is to provide a balanced, integrated practical course in natural resource science.

The following are the Core Topics:

(Other topics based on local needs may also be part of the curriculum.)

  • Soils
  • Plants
  • Forests
  • Insects and other Macroinvertebrates
  • Reptiles & Amphibians
  • Birds
  • Mammals
  • Ecological Concepts
  • Effective Education Practices
  • The Art of Nature Interpretation
  • Exploring Ohio's Watersheds
  • Aquatic Life
  • Stewardship
  • Geology

Volunteer Naturalist Certification Requirements:

  • 40 hours of combined classroom and field instruction
  • 40 hours of approved volunteer service projects.
  • After certification, requires 20 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of advanced training annually.

Check out the OCVN Brochure to learn more.