For land lovers, volunteer program is a natural

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Conservation organization wants to train participants as project leaders

If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a “Force of Nature,” Natural Lands Trust can help make it happen.

The region’s largest land conservation organization yesterday announced the second class of its “Force of Nature” volunteer training program, designed to educate and train participants to serve as volunteer project leaders and ambassadors.

“Our inaugural Force of Nature class graduated from the program in April 2012. Since then, they have contributed more than 400 hours of skilled labor to help Natural Lands Trust preserve and steward the land, water, and wildlife of our region,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “I look forward to welcoming participants in the second class this autumn as they join the force!”

Under the program, volunteers participate in five, four-hour training sessions during which they learn about topics ranging from tree care and planting to invasive plant identification and removal. Each training session includes a learning component and a hands-on service component, such as restoring trails or building bluebird nest boxes.

Following the training, graduates are asked to dedicate at least four hours per month for a minimum of five months volunteering at one (or more) of Natural Lands Trust’s 41 nature preserves, which stretch from the Poconos to the New Jersey bayshore. “So far, our Force of Nature volunteers have been so enthusiastic about putting their newly acquired land stewardship skills to use that many of them have far exceeded the volunteer hours required,” said Angela Michie, Natural Lands Trust’s outreach and membership manager.

Training sessions for the 2012-13 class will start Oct. 20 and continue through March on the third Saturday of each month (excluding December). The first session will be held at Stroud Preserve on North Creek Road in West Chester. A complete training schedule and application are available online at natlands.org/volunteer/force-of-nature.

The registration deadline for the 2012-13 class is Oct. 4. For those without computer access, contact Michie at 610-353-5587, ext. 266. Individuals interested in attending a single training session may register at any time; single-session registration is extremely limited and is on a first-come basis.

Since its founding, Natural Lands Trust has preserved more than 100,000 acres, including 41 nature preserves totaling more than 21,000 acres and 19,000 acres on which it holds conservation easements.

 

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