Course Instructor: Conservation Biology of Freshwater Mussels, Scientific River Diving Safety

2011 – present

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) operates the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, WV to provide training and professional development for USFWS employees and other conservation partners. Ms. Heidi Dunn of EcoAnalysts and Dr. M. Chris Barnhart of Missouri State University have served as co-instructors of a Conservation Biology of Freshwater Mussels course at NCTC since 2011. Course materials are prepared by Ms. Dunn and Dr. Barnhart and are tailored to provide a broad overview of mussel biology and sampling to course participants. Topics include mussel life history and biology, identification, and field sampling techniques, and participants gain firsthand sampling experience in nearby rivers. The course provides an opportunity for resource managers to learn about the conservation issues surrounding this faunal group, which can assist in making regulatory decisions and implementing conservation strategies. 

Ms. Dunn and NCTC have also recently developed a Scientific River Diving Safety course to address the unique conditions and safety measures associated with river diving. While most SCUBA courses address dive safety in clear water with minimal current, river diving may include areas with little or no visibility, directional current, and the need for weighting to maintain position on the bottom. Course topics will include diving and communicating with a full-face mask, diving and tending with a tether, hazards of river diving, and creating a river dive plan. Students who successfully complete the course will receive PADI certifications in Scientific River Diving and Full-Face Mask diving. The pilot course will be offered at NCTC in October 2019.

Eric