Be an expert on the volcano in your backyard and become a Volcano Naturalist at Mount St. Helens. The Volcano Naturalist Course is a 12-week certification program offered by the Mount St. Helens Institute and U.S. Forest Service. Students in this course will have the opportunity to learn about the natural history of Mount St. Helens. Each class takes an in-depth look at a different subject, including the mountain’s eruptive history, the ecology of the blast zone, the cultural history of Mount St. Helens, and much more. Classes are led by an instructor who is an expert in his/her field. With over 40 hours of classroom instruction, and three hands-on field trips, participants leave the class not only as a certified Volcano Naturalist, but with a greater understanding and appreciation for the powerful geologic and ecological forces at play in their own community.


Location: Woodland Community Center, 782 Park St, Woodland, WA 98674


Course Schedule:

February 6, 2018 - May 5th, 2018

       Evening classes Tuesdays, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm*

        *No class April 3rd

       Field Trips:

       Saturday, March 17th, Saturday April 21st, and Saturday May 5th.

        8:00 am – 3:00 pm*

*Field trip dates are set, field trip times and duration may change. Field Trip locations will be to areas on Mount St. Helens or the greater surrounding area.


    Course Fee: $350

    MSHI Members: $345

    MSHI Volunteers: $150*

    *Only current Mount St. Helens Institute volunteers are eligible to receive this discount who were both active in 2017, and have at least 50 lifetime volunteer hours.

Course Requirements:

  • Anyone who is interested in learning more about Mount St. Helens is welcome to register as a student. No prior knowledge of natural history is needed by participants, as all that is needed is a willingness to learn.
  • All Volcano Naturalist Program Participants must be at least 18 years of age.


Volcano Naturalists must complete a minimum of 40 hours of instruction to receive their certification. Participants who need to miss more than two classes or field trips should contact the facilitator before registering to make sure that they will meet the minimum hour requirements.

Volunteer Commitment:

Upon completion of the Volcano Naturalist Certification Program, participants are required to volunteer a minimum of 40 volunteer hours with the Mount St. Helens Institute during the year following their certification. Volunteer assignments are flexible as far as interest, ability, and availability. Learn more about volunteer assignments with the Mount St. Helens Institute online here.

Volcano Naturalist Certification Program, Student Learning Outcomes:

     By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify geological and ecological forces of Mount St. Helens.
  • Describe the nature of Mount St. Helens’ dynamic landscape.
  • Relate the natural history of Mount St. Helens to others using interpretive methods.


Do you have further questions about the Volcano Naturalist Program? Please email Allison Watson, the Volunteer Programs Director for the Mount St. Helens Institute.