November 26, 2022

The Toledo Metroparks are some of the best in the nation, and some of that success is due to their many volunteers. The parks annual program to train new volunteers begins in mid-October. It’s called the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program, and it’s cosponsored by Ohio State and the Toledo Metroparks.
“We train participants in education and information, and then turn them loose to help spread the word about nature,” explained Amy Stone, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University.
State specialists come in each week to educate prospective volunteers on various topics.
“Everything from soils and geology to fishes and trees and shrubs and insects… so it’s the whole gambit of nature,” Stone told us. “Participants go through the training, and then are encouraged to volunteer in one of our many Metroparks.”
The program is very flexible and allows volunteers to work when they want and embrace their passion.
“We like to match the volunteers with their area of expertise or interest,” said Stone. “So, it’s kind of a matchup of what they find valuable and important, and what they really want to do, and then provide that service in our area.”
Mark your calendars: the certification process officially begins on Tuesday, October 11th. It runs for 7 weeks, and training sessions happen each Tuesday from 9am – 4pm. Once you’ve done all that, you just have to get 40 volunteer hours in your first year, at your own pace, to become certified and make a difference.
“The volunteers are precious at the Metroparks,” stated Kim High, a Master Interpreter with Toledo Metroparks. “They really keep our culture positive, and they do so much work for us. We wouldn’t be the Metroparks without our volunteers.”
It’s tailor-made for those who love nature, and volunteers often learn from one another. To find the application for the program, the schedule, and answers to any questions you may have, go to lucas.osu.edu.
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