Volunteer Naturalist Program seeks guides for Riverwalk wetlands walking tours

Photo courtesy Darryl Saffer
Weminuche Audubon and Pagosa Wetland Partners are collaborating on the development of a Volunteer Naturalist Program to train volunteers to deliver guided eco-tours on the Riverwalk. A preliminary organizational meeting for the program is set for Saturday, April 3.

By Randy McCormick
Weminuche Audubon Society
and Pagosa Wetland Partners

The Pagosa Springs Volunteer Naturalist Program (VNP) is recruiting individuals to serve as guides for walking tours of our Riverwalk wetlands. 

This new program, co-sponsored by the Weminuche Audubon Society and Pagosa Wetland Partners, is free and open to all. If you enjoy nature, spending time outdoors, meeting people from near and far, and being of service, then this opportunity is for you.

The objective of the VNP is to have trained volunteer naturalists provide enjoyable Riverwalk tours that inform, enchant and inspire people to protect and preserve nature’s bounty. In-depth previous knowledge about our wetlands is not required. We will offer comprehensive training to all volunteers. Our instructors are seasoned professionals with many years of experience in environmental education.

It is expected that tours for the public will last from one to two hours and will be scheduled in advance at specific times of the day. You will only be asked to lead tours on days and at times that suit you. One day per week would be perfect, but we intend to be flexible.

The VNP training program will be provided in several sequential training sessions. Topics will include content related to our wetlands including: plants, animals, wetland ecology, geology, human history and more. In addition to these program content areas, the training will also include information about program delivery such as tour pacing, presentation skills, handling questions, managing children, use of optics, etc. You will be training at your own pace and will never be asked to lead tours until you feel confident and comfortable. This program is a lifelong learning opportunity and it should be enjoyable for both the visitor and the guide.

If this interests you, please consider attending a preliminary organizational meeting to be held on Saturday, April 3, at 10 a.m. at Yamaguchi Park, 684 S. 5th St. (directly opposite the high school athletic fields). The meeting will be outdoors near the pavilion. You should bring a folding chair with you to be comfortable. Face coverings and social distancing are required. This meeting will be your opportunity to ask questions and see if this would be something you’d like to explore. 

In order for us to be adequately prepared, we ask that you send us an email indicating your interest in attending our organizational meeting. This gives us some idea how many folks to expect and if there is a need to cancel the meeting due to inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances, we will have a way to contact you. We are excited about the possibilities this program offers and look forward to seeing you there.

To register your interest in attending the meeting, or for more information, email Randy McCormick at pagosawetlands@gmail.com. You may also call (239) 961-1977. Thank you for considering this opportunity.

This story was posted on March 26, 2021.