Registration has now closed for the 2022 program. To be notified when registration opens for the 2023 program, fill out this form:

Become an expert on the volcano in our backyard as a Volcano Naturalist at Mount St. Helens. The Volcano Naturalist Program is a 12-week certification course offered by the Mount St. Helens Institute. Participants in this program will explore diverse aspects of the natural and cultural 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 instructors who are experts in the field. With 36 hours of virtual 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 geological and ecological forces at play in our community.

"Without exception, every speaker was worth the commitment. I feel very fortunate to have learned from top scientists, journalists, and conservationists who have dedicated much of their adult lives to the mountain.”

-Past participant

The Volcano Naturalist Program is hosted by the Mount St. Helens Institute with the support of community, university, and government partners including the U.S. Forest Service.


Registration has now closed for the 2022 program. To be notified when registration opens for the 2023 program, fill out this form.

Course Schedule and Format:

The 2022 program will run from February 1st - May 3rd. 

  • Virtual Evening Classes: Every Tuesday from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM PST
    • NO CLASS March 8th or April 5th.
    • We’ve taken extra steps to ensure virtual classes are engaging, informative, and enjoyable. 
    • You can sign up no matter where you live! 
  • Optional In-Person Field Trips: COVID-19 precautions will be followed in accordance with MSHI's program policies.
    • Saturday February 5th: Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake
    • Saturday, April 2nd: Ape Cave
    • Saturday April 30th: Hummocks Trail

Course Fee & Registration Dates

  • Registration fee: $436.
    • Registration fee includes course materials and book mailed to participants.
  • Registration opens to the public on November 15th, 2021, and closes January 10th, 2022 (or when program is full).

Course Requirements:

  • Anyone who is interested in learning more about Mount St. Helens is welcome to register as a participant. No prior knowledge of natural history is needed by participants, as all that is needed is a willingness to learn.
  • Participants must be at least 18 years of age, or at least 14 years of age if participating along with an adult.
  • Participants must provide their own device and internet connection to participate in virtual classes.
  • Field trip requirements:
    • Participants must be able to walk 3 miles on uneven, unpaved surface while carrying 10 lbs, and must provide their own transportation to and from the site.
    • Participants must follow MSHI's current COVID-19 program policies.


Volcano Naturalists must complete a minimum of 30 hours of instruction (not including field trips) to receive their certification. Participants 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:

This year, volunteering is optional. While participants are encouraged to volunteer, we recognize volunteering may not be an option for everyone. Historically, upon completion of the Volcano Naturalist Certification Program, participants have been required to volunteer a minimum of 40 volunteer hours with the Mount St. Helens Institute during the year following their certification.  
Mount St. Helens Institute volunteers support education, safety, and stewardship of Mount St. Helens in a variety of exciting assignments, which are flexible as far as interest, ability, and availability. Learn more about volunteer assignments with the Mount St. Helens Institute online here.

Participant Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, participants 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 and cultural history of Mount St. Helens to others using interpretive methods.


  • US Geological Survey
  • US Forest Service 
  • WA State Parks 
  • Longview Daily News 
  • WSU Vancouver
  • Cascadia Wild

Clock hours may be available for teachers through OSPI.

For more information contact: Sarah Philips, Volunteer & Community Engagement Manager, at sarah@mshinstitute.org or (360) 784-2108.