Master Naturalist Program


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.

2019 Volunteer Master Naturalist Course

Register now for the next BBVMN course (# CEBS-137-01), which is being offered in the spring of 2019 by the Ocean County College Continuing Professional Education Department. The instructor is Ms. Becky Laboy, an experienced naturalist and educator who has a BS in Biology and a Masters in Education.

See page 3 of the Spring 2019 catalog for course details and pages 7 and 54 for registration information. You can register by phone at 732-255-0409, in person at the Ocean County College Library Building #3, or by mail at Continuing & Professional Education CPE, Ocean County College, PO Box 2001, Toms River, NJ 08754-2001.  If you have taken courses at OCC in the past, you can register online.

2019 course dates are April 3 to May 22, 2019. There will be a total of 9 sessions.

3 Wednesday evening classroom sessions at Ocean County College
Dates: April 3, May 8, and May 22                 Time: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

1 Wednesday evening classroom session (Environmental Educators Roundtable) at the Lighthouse Center for Natural Resource Education in Waretown
Date: April 17                                                  Time: 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

5 Saturday field experience sessions  (Trip schedule will be announced to prior to the first class.)
Dates: April 6, 13, and 27; May 4 and 18        Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The course will focus on the unique natural and cultural resources of the Barnegat Bay watershed and include training in interpretive techniques and other skills volunteers need to help educate others.Topics will include Barnegat Bay fishes, shellfishes, and crustaceans; seagrasses in the bay; water monitoring; birds and other animals of the watershed; native plant identification; forest resources; soil health; Pinelands ecology; and Barnegat Bay history, culture, and traditions.

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. You will meet at various locations for the Saturday trips. After registering, you will receive a detailed schedule of session topics and locations.

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 trail maintenance 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 and nature centers

ASSIST WITH PUBLIC OUTREACH:  BBVMNs have staffed exhibits at environmental festivals and events around the watershed, such as 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.

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