A new education course will also provide a cadre of new volunteers at Mount St. Helens.
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Mount St. Helens Institute will launch the new education and volunteer program in late February.
During the 12-week program, participants will learn the basics of Mount St. Helens geology and biology. They also will develop field identification and other naturalist skills at 10 indoor evening classes and four weekend days in the field at the monument. The intent is to help program graduates in telling the story of Mount St. Helens.
“As we work to expand education and recreation opportunities, including the opening of the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater, we will increasingly engage volunteers to help us serve the public,” Tom Mulder, monument manager, said in a prepared statement.
The volcano naturalist program is a tool to help monument managers create a corps of knowledgeable volunteers, he added.
The program is provided at a low cost to participants, who in exchange will commit to a minimum of 60 volunteer hours at Mount St. Helens within a year of completing the course. Participants will have a variety of opportunities to choose from under the institute’s three volunteer programs: Volcano Volunteers (visitor services, interpretation, support services, special events), Mountain Stewards (safety, assistance and interpretation on the trails and climbing routes) and Conservation Corps (trail maintenance, invasive species removal, stream monitoring).
The plan calls for advanced training for volcano volunteers seeking to increase their skills and grow their commitment to the program. Certified Volcano Naturalists will have the opportunity to fill leadership roles within the Volcano Naturalist and other institute programs.
For Volcano Naturalists to retain their certification and be eligible for advanced classes and leadership roles, they will continue to fulfill the 60-hour volunteer commitment annually.
The 2013 program includes 10 classes on Wednesdays, 6-9 p.m. at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest Headquarters office in Vancouver, Wash., from Feb. 27-May 15, with two weeks off. There will be three weekend field trips during this time as well.
The course fee is $200, paid to the Mount St. Helens Institute. The fee includes books on natural history, course materials, field notebook and refreshments. A scholarship may be available to those who cannot afford the fee. Washington teachers may earn up to 54 clock hours by participating in the Volcano Naturalist program.
For more information and to apply to the program, visit mshinstitute.org. For questions, contact Amy Tanska, the institute’s volunteer programs manager, at email@example.com or 360-449-7826.