Become a Naturalist
What is a Naturalist?
Naturalists are interpreters for Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and our regional natural environment. At the Preserve, Naturalists inform our visitors about the rich diversity of native plants that support native fauna and the unique qualities of the Preserve’s site. They lead tours, teach classes, assist with curatorial needs and participate in special events. They help in the Native Plant Nursery and during the native plant sales. Opportunities abound for naturalists to share their knowledge at the Preserve and throughout the region. Ultimately they are invaluable and lead us all to an understanding of our natural world.
The Preserve offers a series of classes over a 14-month period that provides the basis for becoming a Naturalist. Classes consist of core topics on natural and cultural history, geology, botany, native fauna including birds and our signature seasonal series, Knowing Native Plants. Once classes are completed participants are requested to provide a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer service to the Preserve. Additional learning is available with our Lunch and Learns when specific topics are covered. Other opportunities to supplement learning are available through a wide array of classes, lectures and workshops.
Are you passionate about the Preserve and eager to learn more about our plant collection and habitats? Do you enjoy sharing your knowledge of the natural world with others? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then our Naturalist Training Program is for you.
The training session for 2017-2018 is full. Interested candidates should contact our volunteer coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org for information about the next training session.
Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve’s Naturalists lead and assist with a wide range of activities that spark our visitors’ interest and share their knowledge of native plants by leading public and private tours, leading programs or being available as a resource to our visitors.
Sharing a common bond of intense curiosity about the plant world, our Volunteer Naturalists bring their unique talents and interests to the education programs offered at the Preserve. Whether your special interest is gardening, botany, pollinators, birds, ecology or all of these topics, there are Naturalists that share your passion.
Naturalists lead our 2 pm interpretive tours and other educational programs. In addition to educational programming, Naturalists participate in various curatorial activities at the Preserve that include plant inventories, plant surveys and propagation. They also help with plant sales and in the Twinleaf Book & Gift Shop.
Participants are required to attend all classes to be fully vetted as a Volunteer Naturalist. We realize that last minute situations arise that can’t be avoided. If you must miss a class we will work with you on attending that class the following year. No more than three classes can be missed/made up.
New trainees will attend a series of introductory classes every other week from Sept. 21 through Nov. 16, 2017. These classes will familiarize trainees with the duties of Naturalists, history and natural history of the Preserve, plant ecology, basic botany, and communication and interpretive skills.
- September: Orientation/Cultural and Natural History of BHWP
- October: Botany Basics
- October: Plant Ecology
- November: Interpretation & Theme Development
- November: BHWP Trails & Geology
Advanced training includes our Knowing Native Plants series. This is an integral part of the training and these classes are free to Naturalists in the program. They are designed to acquaint Naturalists with plants of seasonal interest, their ecological significance, ID characteristics and garden-worthiness. Many of these classes are popular so we ask that you attend the Thursday “Naturalist Only” sessions if at all possible, but understand that schedules may dictate participation in a Saturday class. Exact dates will be published in the Fall of 2017.
- January: Basics of Plant ID
- February: Trees in Winter
- March: Signs of Spring
- April: Invasive Species ID & Management
- April: Spring Ephemerals
- May: Late Spring Lovelies
- May: Flowering Shrubs
- June: Focus on Ferns
- July: Meadow Magic
- September: The Amazing Aster Family
- October: Trees of BHWP
- November: From Flowers to Seeds
We strive to offer continuing education by Naturalists, for Naturalists, on various topics of interest. This provides an opportunity for us to share knowledge and skills with each other and may come in the form of field trips and “Lunch & Learns.” Upon completion of your training, all Naturalists who actively volunteer may attend future Knowing Native Plant classes free of charge.
Shadowing & Mentoring
In addition to attending these sessions, new Naturalists are expected to shadow experienced Naturalists or staff on guided walks or programs. This will help prepare you to lead walks and tours on your own. New Naturalists will be encouraged to lead walks during each season of bloom to put their newly gained knowledge to work! Naturalists will never be asked to lead a tour before they feel comfortable in doing so. More info about our mentoring program will be available early 2018.
The goal of our Naturalist Training is to secure dedicated, long-term volunteers who are willing and eager to support the mission of Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. Because of the time invested in training, we ask that Naturalists commit to lead a minimum of five educational tours or programs each year. This fulfillment is flexible depending on your availability, skills and interests and may be achieved by leading one or more of the following:
- 2 pm Guided Wildflower Walks
- Roving Naturalist
- Group Tours for:
- School groups
- Adult groups
- Nature Play Days
There are many other opportunities to give back to the Preserve. These include, but are not limited to:
- Special event help (Gala, Earth Day, etc.)
- Native Plant Sale
- Winter Lecture Series assistance
- Off-site Educational exhibits
- Special interest programs for the public