Become an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist! This year, OSU Extension will be offering OCVN training for Jefferson and Harrison Counties.

The Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN) program is an environmental and natural resources outreach and service program led by OSU Extension in collaboration with parks and arboretums. The mission 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.   

The OCVN program requirements include a 40-hour education course at an approved location followed by 40 hours of volunteer service and/or continuing education with a nonprofit agency or organization.  The participant selects where to volunteer.  The volunteer service should be with a nonprofit organization and/or agency with a compatible program mission.  The volunteer service must be completed in Ohio.  To maintain certification participants can volunteer and/or participate in 30 hours of continuing education.  The continuing education should be with an agency or organization with a compatible mission but does not need to be in Ohio.  Participants can also choose to take the course but not volunteer. 

The OCVN Program Director is located in The School of Environment and Natural Resources on the Columbus Campus. The role of the Program Director and support staff is to:

  • Create and update the course curriculum.
  • Offer continuing education for course hosts and OCVN participants.
  • Promote volunteer service and continuing education opportunities; and
  • Issue certifications.

Course hosts manage and offer the 40-hour education course which includes classroom and field work for their region by building onto the statewide curriculum components with local and regional content.  After course completion, OCVNs typically volunteer in the following service categories: Education/Interpretation & Outreach, Community Science, Land Stewardship, and Program Support.

How to Become an OCVN:

  1. Complete the 40-hour OCVN course at an approved location.  To find an approved OCVN course location near you go to Find a Course.  
  2. Volunteer and/or complete 40 hours of additional continuing education.  Once you have completed your coursework, you volunteer for a nonprofit organization that has a similar mission for a minimum of 40 hours and/or complete and additional 40 hours of continuing education after completing your coursework.  After course completion, OCVNs typically volunteer in the following service categories: Education/Interpretation & Outreach, Citizen Science, Land Stewardship, and Program Support.  See 'About Us' for more details. 
  3. Maintain your certification. To maintain your status as an OCVN you must continue to volunteer and/or complete additional continuing education for a minimum of 30 hours per year.

Classes will cover a range of topics, including the following:

  • Environmental Education
  • Water Resources and Aquatic Life
  • Geology and Soils
  • Woods in Your Backyard
  • Foraging for Plants and Mushrooms
  • Insects and Other Macroinvertebrates (including hammerhead worms)
  • Amphibians and Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Mammals
  • Weather, Climate and Stargazing

These sessions will be held at various locations across both counties. In order to become certified, participants will need to attend a minimum of 8 classes out of the 10 offered in 2023. Cost of the program is $130 per person, which includes a name badge, t-shirt, access to course materials and OCVN manual.

If you prefer not to become certified but are interested in attending a couple of sessions, cost of each session is $15 per person and pre-registration is required one week prior to each class. Those not completing the certification process will not receive the materials mentioned above.

Contact to learn more.