Partnership

The New River Gorge Master Naturalists recently signed a partnership agreement with Hawks Nest State Park. Pictured at the signing are, seated, from left, Teresa Miller of Hawks Nest State park; Keith Richardson, NRGMN chapter coordinator; and Michael Hager, HNSP superintendent; and standing, NRGMN advisory committee members Dr. Lewis Cook, Gayle Swank and Dr. Steve Swank.

The New River Gorge chapter of Master Naturalists and Hawks Nest State Park have entered into a partnership that will “enhance and help accomplish the missions of both organizations,” said Keith Richardson, coordinator of the NRG chapter.

The mission of the Master Naturalist program states in part that a corps of volunteers will be trained as naturalists to be utilized in the community. “With this partnership, the park will be able to use the willing participants of the MN program as seasonal naturalists and help to enhance the guest experience here,” Mike Hager, park superintendent, said.

The Master Naturalists will also coordinate with the park on volunteer opportunities that will benefit different areas.

“There are already several events in the works that we are really excited about,” Richardson said. “The partnership hopefully will be an ongoing and ever-evolving project that will provide many environmental and community-based events and opportunities.”

Hager has a fresh outlook and a lot of great ideas for park improvements, Richardson pointed out. The park will also provide a venue and volunteer opportunities for the MN chapter as it fulfills its requirements to its membership. “We feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the park in its efforts and to have such a beautiful place to conduct our classwork, both indoors and out,” Richardson said.

The first volunteer event will be held March 21-22. The NRG MN will host a trail maintenance weekend to work on some of the established trails at the overlook area of the park. Everyone is invited to come out and play both days as the volunteers beautify some of the trails for the upcoming season. Volunteers do not have to be a member of the MN to participate. “We can use all of the help we can get,” said Hager.

The event is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Any amount of time volunteered is welcomed. The park will host a cookout at 4 p.m. on both days. If you would like to join in, please email lewiscook@suddenlink.net for more information.

For more information and to see upcoming offerings, www.newrivergorgemasternaturalist.org

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