of West Virginia
The mission of the West Virginia Master Naturalist Program is to train interested people in the fundamentals of natural history, nature interpretation and teaching, and to instill in them an appreciation of the importance of responsible environmental stewardship. The program will also provide a corps of highly qualified volunteers to assist government agencies, schools, and non-government organizations with research, outdoor recreation development, and environmental education and protection.
The development of the West Virginia Master Naturalist Program began in 2003 and grew out of a partnership among the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (including the Wildlife Resources Section’s Wildlife Diversity Program and the Parks and Recreation Section), West Virginia University Cooperative Extension Service, Canaan Valley Institute, and Davis and Elkins College. The Canaan Valley Institute was unable to continue it's support and withdrew in 2006. These programs somewhat mirror the Master Gardener Programs that have been so popular across the United States. The goal of the Master Naturalist Program state advisory committee was to develop a program tailored to the unique circumstances of West Virginia. The first West Virginia Master Naturalist training session was held over the weekend of April 30 – May 2, 2004 at Hawks Nest State Park in Fayette County, with a class of 20 students.