Volunteer Opportunity Overview:

Under an International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) Missouri initiative encouraging parks and communities to become certified as an “International Dark Sky Place” (“IDSP”), it is anticipated that parks and community educators in Missouri will want training so they can provide programs to the public about protecting Missouri’s natural night sky. Volunteers with expertise in areas such as naturalists and/or bird watching will be provided “train-the-trainer” training so they can, in turn, provide training to park and community educators. Once trained, volunteers will be able to accept volunteer opportunities to train park and community educators.

The natural night sky is our common and universal heritage. According to a 2016 sky brightness study, 80 percent of the world’s population lives under skyglow. In the United States and Europe, 99 percent of the public cannot experience a natural star lit night, and light pollution is rising dramatically. While the negative effects of light pollution may seem intangible, a growing body of evidence links the brightening night sky to negative effects on amphibians, birds, mammals, insects, plants, and human health. The unnecessary use of artificial light at night contributes to climate change by increasing energy consumption, and improper lighting can, contrary to public opinion, contribute to an increase in crime.

The good news is light pollution can easily be reduced or eliminated. Often, too much or the wrong color of light is used, or lights are left on when not needed. The use of technology such as timers or dimmers, combined with modifications to the light source, color temperature of the light, and type of fixture, can reduce or eliminate light pollution, while still providing needed light.


Volunteers must complete a FREE training program requiring less than four hours. The program will be delivered in two parts by IDA experts, using ZOOM or similar technology. 

Part one consists of core training on the basics of light pollution, what a typical program would look like, the presenter’s responsibilities, and resources available. Volunteers will also learn what it takes to become certified an International Dark-Sky Place. 

Part two training will focus on the impact of light on animals, plants, and birds with recommended activities to make the program more interactive.  

Once trained, volunteers will receive notices from IDA Missouri about volunteer opportunities to train park or community officials in Missouri.  Volunteers are encouraged to promote use of the program material in parks and communities within their area. An online resource center offering sample presentations, activities, and other materials will be made available to volunteers for use in training and program delivery.

Who is Eligible for the FREE Training:

Training is available to anyone residing in Missouri with a presentation-level knowledge of nature or birding, who are willing to either train parks or community groups to deliver a dark sky program, or deliver the program themselves.  Applicants do not need to be a member of the International Dark-Sky Association to participate, although membership in IDA is encouraged (just a minimum $35.00 donation/year - learn more).

The training is intended to build on the presenter's core knowledge of nature or birding by discussing the causes and impact of light pollution on their field of expertise, steps that can be done to reduce light pollution, and how to deliver a program to the public related to light pollution.  Since the purpose of this training is to support Missouri based parks and communities, only applicants planning to directly support Missouri will be approved for this FREE training.

Upcoming Training Schedule/Registration:

The first training opportunity offered by IDA Missouri is outlined on the date/times shown below.  This training will focus on the area of expertise related to nature and birds.  Additional training opportunities are anticipated in the future, but such training will be offered based on need.

Applicants must agree to attend both sessions which will be offered virtually using ZOOM.  IDA Missouri will approve applicants based on their background, expertise and space availability.  The following is the current opportunity available for 2021:

Item Date/Time
Apply for FREE Dark Sky Training  

Registration opens

Thursday, June 9, 2021

Registration closes

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Training (using ZOOM)  

Pre-work and ZOOM links will be sent by email to approved applicants.

Thursday, August 5, 2021


Part 1 - The International Dark Sky Program and the Science of Light Pollution
Instructor:  Dr. Vayu Gokhale, Associate Professor of Physics, Truman State University

Thursday, August 19, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Part 2 - The Impact of Light Pollution on Nature
Instructor:  Dr. Brett Seymoure, Behavioral Ecologist, Washington University

Wednesday, September 22, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Certificate of Completion - A certification of completion will be sent by email to everyone completing training  Within one week of training.
Resource Library - Access will be provided to a resource library containing presentations and activities for use in programs.  This library is expected to grow over time.  Within one week of training.
Training Opportunities - Notifications will be sent of parks or communities requesting training As available.
Follow-up meet/greets - Periodic ZOOM meetings will be held for volunteers to share stories and best practices. To be determined.
IDA Missouri Annual Conference - Volunteers are encouraged (but not required) to attend IDA Missouri's annual conference scheduled on October 3-4, 2021 at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.  A terrific lineup of expert speakers and exhibitors is planned, and a chance to meet and network with others.  Participation can be "in-person" or by ZOOM.

Sunday evening, October 3, 2021
and Monday, October 4, 2021

 Learn More About the FREE October 3-4, 2021 Conference