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 the natural history of Mount St. Helens and how naturalists and interpreters shape the way we view this amazing place. 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.

2017 Course Information

Location: WSU Vancouver Extension (1919 NE 78th St, Vancouver, WA 98665)

Course Schedule:

  • February 15th - May 10th; on Wednesday Evenings, 6:00pm - 9:00pm
  • No class April 5th
  • Field Trips: March 4th, April 1st, May 6th  


    Course Fee: $350 per Participant

    MSHI Members: $325

*Course registration fee includes all texts and materials

Interested in registering for Volcano Naturalist Program 2017?  Email Allison Watson, Volunteer Programs Manager at awatson@mshinstitute.org.

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.


Volcano Naturalists must complete a minimum of 40 hours of instruction to receive their certification. Students who need to miss more than two classes 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. To learn more about specific volunteer assignments, please go to online to: www.mshinstitute.org/volunteer.

Volcano Naturalist Certification Program, Student Learning Outcomes:

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

  1. Value and understand the role of a naturalist and interpreter
  2. Identify geological and ecological forces of Mount St. Helens.
  3. Describe the nature of Mount St. Helens’ dynamic landscape.
  4. 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 Manager for the Mount St. Helens Institute.