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Chester County Press

Training opens for Natural Lands Trust volunteers

09/04/2013 01:45PM ● By Acl

Natural Lands Trust is recruiting for the third class in its “Force of Nature” volunteer training program, designed to train participants to serve as volunteer project leaders and ambassadors for the regional land conservation organization.

“The Force of Nature program launched in October 2011,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “Since then, volunteers have contributed more than 1,200 hours to help Natural Lands Trust preserve and steward the land, water, and wildlife of our region. I look forward to welcoming participants in the third 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 service component, such as restoring trails or building nest boxes for bluebirds.

Following their 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 42 nature preserves, which stretch from the Poconos to the New Jersey bayshore.

Brian Bernero, a member of the second graduating class of Force of Nature volunteers, has long desired to help the region’s natural areas thrive amid increasing development. Bernero initially volunteered to plant trees with Natural Lands Trust and wanted to get further involved. Bolstered by the skills and knowledge he gained in the Force of Nature program, Bernero, a 30-year-old millwright who lives in Brookhaven, now frequents Sharp’s Woods Preserve in Berwyn, Pa., and Wawa Preserve in Media,  where he completes small, self-directed land stewardship projects on his own time. Bernero still finds the time to participate in group volunteer days with friends he has made in the program, too. “It’s fun to be with like-minded people,” he said.

Training sessions for the 2013-14 class will be held beginning Oct. 19, and continuing 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, Pa. A complete training schedule is available online at

The registration deadline for the 2013-14 class is Oct. 4. Program information and an application are available at or by calling or emailing 610-353-5587 ext. 243 or [email protected]. For more information, visit