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Barnegat Bay volunteer master naturalists

Do you enjoy learning about the plants, animals, ecology, and traditions of the Barnegat Bay and its watershed?  Do you like sharing what you've learned with others?  Then consider becoming a Barnegat Bay Volunteer Master Naturalist!

The Barnegat Bay Partnership, through the Ocean County College Continuing Professional Education Department, offers a program to train Barnegat Bay Volunteer Master Naturalists (BBVMNs).  Participants learn not only about the natural resources of the estuary, but also about the latest scientific research and the challenges ahead.  The program includes training in the skills volunteers need to help educate others about the bay and about good stewardship of its valuable resources.

This certificate program is based on a national model. The BBVMN training course, offered through Ocean County College, consists of both classroom and field-based learning experiences about a wide range of natural resource and wildlife topics specific to the Barnegat Bay and its watershed.

earning the Barnegat bay volunteer master naturalist certificate

Completing the BBVMN course is the first step toward certification. To receive the BBVMN certificate, participants must complete 40 hours of approved environmental service at approved sites within the Barnegat Bay watershed within a year of finishing the initial training course. To maintain certification, BBVMNs must complete 40 service hours plus 8 hours of advanced environmental training each calendar year.

upcoming barnegat bay volunteer master naturalist course

The next BBVMN course (# CEBS-135-01) is being offered by the Ocean County College Continuing Professional Education Department in its Spring 2016 catalog (see page 43).  The course dates are April 6 to May 25, 2016.  The instructor is Mr. Terry O'Leary, Master Naturalist and Environmental Educator. There will be 5 evening classroom sessions on Wednesdays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and 5 field experience sessions on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Click here to see the spring 2016 schedule of classroom and field sessions.

Four of the evening sessions will be held at the Barnegat Bay Partnership office (117 Haines Road, Toms River), which is located in Brown's Woods Preserve overlooking the Toms River. The April 20th evening session will consist of participation in the Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable at the Lighthouse Center for Natural Resource Education in Waretown. Classes will feature interpretive techniques and special guest speakers, focusing on the unique natural and cultural resources of the Barnegat Bay watershed. Topics will include Barnegat Bay fishes, shellfishes, and crustaceans; seagrasses in the bay; water monitoring; birds of the watershed; native plant identification; forest resources; soil health; Pinelands ecology; and more.

During the 5 Saturday field trips, participants will explore the forests, marshes, streams, and shorelines of state and county parks throughout Ocean County -- hiking, kayaking, seining, photographing, and collecting data with experienced master naturalists, environmental educators, and field ecologists. 

volunteer opportunities

Visit the BBP Master Naturalist Facebook page for volunteer opportunities shared by the Barnegat Bay Volunteer Master Naturalists.

ASSIST WITH SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH:  BBVMNs do not hesitate to get their feet wet and their hands dirty.  They have assisted with seining and recording data during Barnegat Bay Partnership sea nettle research, with assembling American eel collectors, and with dune grass planting and monitoring at Island Beach State Park.  

PRESENT EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS:  BBVMNs want to share what they have learned.  They have led birding by kayak tours at Island Beach State Park and assisted with interpretive programs at both state and county parks, including Cattus Island and Mantoloking Bridge County Parks.  

ASSIST WITH PUBLIC OUTREACH:  BBVMNs have staffed exhibits at environmental festivals and events around the watershed, such as our own Barnegat Bay Festival in June, Ocean Fun Days, and Cattus Island Nature Day.

DESIGN DISPLAYS:  BBVMNs have flexed their creative muscles and designed displays to educate others about the natural resources of the estuary.