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 (BBVMN).
The Barnegat Bay Partnership offers a program to train Volunteer Master Naturalists. Participants learn about not only the wildlife and natural resources of the estuary, but also the latest scientific research and environmental challenges ahead. The program includes training in the skills and techniques volunteers use to help educate others about the bay and good stewardship of its valuable resources.
This volunteer 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.
Master Naturalist Course
Registration for the 2024 Barnegat Bay Master Naturalist course will be announced in the coming months! Stay tuned!
To get an idea of what to expect, here is the previous schedule for the 2023 Master Naturalist Course:
- Virtual Classroom Sessions: May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 and June 7, 14, 23
- In-Person Field Sessions: May 5, 12, 19, 26 and June 2, 9, 16, 21
All sessions ran from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm with the exception of the June 21st field trip, which was 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
The course is a combination of Wednesday virtual classroom sessions and Friday field trips in May and June. Participants will learn about a wide range of wildlife and natural resource topics specific to the Barnegat Bay and its watershed. Topics include plants and animals of the bay and watershed; fishes, shellfishes, and other marine life; salt marshes, seagrasses and other important habitats; forest resources; Pine Barrens ecology; and local history, culture, and traditions. During outdoor field sessions, participants will explore both bay and upland habitats at various locations throughout Ocean County.
Course participants must have access to the internet for the virtual classroom sessions and be willing to drive to locations throughout Ocean County for the field sessions. Field trip activities will involve moderate physical activity, including hiking, kayaking, and seining.
Once registration is completed, course participants will receive a schedule of session topics and field trip meeting locations.
Questions? Email Bailey Sanders.
Earning the Barnegat Bay Volunteer Master Naturalist Certificate
Completing the Master Naturalist course is the first step toward certification. To receive the BBVMN certificate, participants need to complete 40 hours of approved environmental service at 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.
The Master Naturalists share information and stay connected on the BBP Master Naturalist Facebook page. The group is open to anyone interested in the ecology and wildlife of the Barnegat Bay watershed.
The Naturalist Newsletter
The Master Naturalists produce a quarterly newsletter, The Naturalist. Engage your interest in and passion for the natural world, read about the experiences of the Master Naturalists, and get inspired to volunteer. If you would like to be added to the email list to receive The Naturalist, contact Bailey Sanders at email@example.com.
Read Issues of The Naturalist
2023: Spring/Summer 2023; Fall 2023/Winter 2024
2022: Spring/Summer 2022; Winter 2022
2021: Spring 2021; Summer 2021; Fall 2021; Winter 2021
2020: Autumn 2020
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, assembling American eel collectors, and planting dune grass and maintaining trails at Island Beach State Park.
GIVE BACK THROUGH STEWARDSHIP: BBVMNs help with stewardship projects, such as dune grass plantings 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.