It is never too late to become a naturalist, and as more people discover the interesting delights of the natural world and want to learn more, the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment is making that possible through a partnership with Primland, an exclusive resort in Meadows of Dan, Va.

The Conservation Management Institute and Primland are co-hosting a field course for beginning naturalists June 18 through 22. Topics covered will include geology, ecology, field botany, ornithology, wildlife behavior, and stream ecology. Individuals can participate in the course as a day guest at Primland or as an overnight guest for the week.

“The goal of the course is to not only provide participants with basic information on natural history topics but to also teach observation skills in the field, with much of the time spent outdoors,” said Verl Emrick, a research associate at the institute and one of the course instructors.

Natural history is the study and description of the natural world, including plants, animals, soils, climate, and geology, and their origins and interrelationships. The Conservation Management Institute provides the instructors and course content.

“Primland’s 12,000 acres provide an ideal location to us to initiate this beginner naturalist course,” Emrick noted.

The June course session on fauna follows an inaugural session in May on flora that focused on Southern Appalachian geology, soils, trees, and plant vegetation. In addition to Primland guests, some Primland employees are taking the course so they can better serve the resort’s guests.

Participants who take both the flora and fauna sessions can become a certified naturalist. For each session, participants must pass both a written test and a field identification test, as well as turn in their naturalist notebook of detailed field observations from an ecological, geographical, and artistic perspective. Certified naturalists can go on to work with experienced ecologists and naturalists in the Southern Appalachians region.

“Primland and the College of Natural Resources and Environment share a passion for promoting the enjoyment, conservation, and stewardship of natural resources, so the naturalist course is an opportunity to advance the mission of both,” said Primland Vice President Steve Helms.

Last summer, Primland and the college rolled out the “Field Guide to the Nature of Primland and the Blue Ridge Mountains” and showcased the nature trails they had developed during a celebration of their ongoing partnership.

For more information or to register for the course, call Primland at 276-222-3800 or 866-960-7746. For questions pertaining to certification call Verl Emrick at 540-231-8851.

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