FOW Welcomes New Pennsylvania Master Naturalists
By Sarah Marley, Outreach Manager
In the spring of 2015, Friends of the Wissahickon teamed up with the Pennsylvania Master Naturalist (PMN) program to coordinate an adult training course that prepares citizens to become volunteer leaders in their communities through natural resource conservation education, citizen science, and stewardship. This course consisted of over fifty hours of classroom and field courses on a range of environmental topics. Classes were led by local experts and professionals, most of whom volunteered their time and knowledge to enable the fifteen trainees to become experts in environmental conservation and education. The majority of these classes were held at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, which generously donated classroom space to the group, with additional field courses held at Wissahickon Valley Park, Cobbs Creek, and the Fairmount Water Works.
Trainees were challenged to look at their surroundings in a new way and utilize all of their senses to experience and observe the environment. With an emphasis on the dynamic nature of the environment and its inherent interconnections, participants were immersed in courses on the many aspects of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s ecology, geology, wildlife, and aquatic systems. The impact of human activities and values on all of these natural systems was a central theme throughout each class. Trainees were taught how to communicate these complicated concepts to the public and engage them in future stewardship projects. Once training was completed, these energetic trainees began planning their service projects—thirty hours of volunteer service are required in the first year to obtain PMN certification—and they must also attend FOW lectures and events to satisfy their continuing education requirements.
Many of these trainees will be launching stewardship or environmental education projects throughout Wissahickon Valley Park and pursuing future training through FOW’s Trail Ambassador or Crew Leader programs. FOW staff and volunteers are excited to have these new trainees join us and our partners in the preservation of Wissahickon Valley Park and the many important public lands throughout our ecoregion.