Pennsylvania Master Naturalist Program to Launch in Cambria County

A new training course is being introduced in Cambria County for people who are interested in learning about the natural world and conservation.

The Pennsylvania Master Naturalist program will train citizen volunteers in the natural sciences to become master naturalists. This program is a partnership between the Cambria County Conservation District and Brandywine Conservancy. The course will start on August 14th and end on October 30th.

Classes will be held on Wednesdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m. There will also be four Saturday field sessions on Aug. 24, Sept. 14 and 28, and Oct. 19. The classes and field sessions will take place at Disaster’s Edge Environmental Center, located at 138 Park Road, St. Michael.

The Pennsylvania Master Naturalist program is focused on training volunteers who are dedicated to protecting Pennsylvania’s natural heritage. They work together with partnering organizations.

Volunteers help with different tasks like restoring habitats, planting native plants, leading educational walks in nature, monitoring water quality, and providing administrative support to conservation organizations. Since 2010, Pennsylvania master naturalists have provided over 96,000 hours of conservation service.

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“I am very excited to see the Master Naturalist program expand into the Johnstown region after hosting it in Westmoreland County since 2019. We have seen many great projects come to life and I am thrilled to continue this work,” said Melissa Reckner, program manager for Brandywine Conservancy’s Penguin Court.

“It’s enjoyable to witness adults getting excited about our natural world – a world that many of us overlook.” We have only one earth, and we all need to work together to keep it safe.

In order to become certified, participants must complete 30 hours of service and eight hours of continuing education by October 2025. To maintain their status as a certified master naturalist volunteer, individuals must complete 20 hours of service and 12 hours of continuing education each year after becoming a master naturalist.

“We are very excited to introduce something new to Cambria County and place some emphasis on programming for adults,” said Jackie Ritko, who is the resource conservation supervisor at the Cambria County Conservation District.

“We believe that this will be a great chance to introduce a new group to the district and the work it does. It may also attract some volunteers who can assist with our projects, such as the tree sale.” If you’re interested, you don’t have to live in Cambria County, but you should live in a nearby county. There is not much space available and you must register by May 3.

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