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What You'll Learn

In a year or less, you will collect a firm understanding of natural sciences in the context of Virginia's ecological systems, deepen strong, foundational knowledge through advanced training and experience, then extend that knowledge to the community through volunteer service.

Your Training Goals

A Virginia Master Naturalist knows...

  • All aspects of their role as a Virginia Master Naturalist, the mission and objectives of the program, and the guidelines for participation

  • What a naturalist is and does and the significance of naturalists and natural history

  • The biogeography of Virginia, including the physiographic regions and the geological and ecological aspects that make them distinct

  • Basic concepts of ecology, geology, and more

  • Basic resource management principles

  • Some native flora and fauna in the region

  • The roles of Virginia state agencies in the management and conservation of natural resources

A Virginia Master Naturalist is able to...

  • Use a key to identify organisms

  • Use a field guide

  • Share knowledge with others (verbally and/or in writing)

  • Make and record observations in nature

  • Recognize when he or she does not know the answer to a question, but be able to seek out answers from people, books, or other reliable resources

Basic Training Course

The basic training course covers the background knowledge and skills that every naturalist needs to have. Each chapter tailors the course to fit its environment and community, so no two courses are exactly the same. Monthly webinars and chapter programs support continuing education opportunities following completion of your basic training.

  • Both field and classroom experiences, with a minimum of 25% of the course time spent in the field

  • Over 40 hours of instruction from locally experienced professionals and naturalists

  • Information from unbiased, research-based sources

  • Each VMN Chapter provides slightly different training material and topics, our Chapter will cover the following (contact us for the full class schedule):

    • Introduction to the Virginia Master Naturalist program

    • Entomology

    • Botany

    • Forest Ecology

    • Ornithology

    • Ichthyology

    • Herpetology

    • Basic Ecology

    • Mammals 

    • Geology

    • Education and Interpretation Skills

    • Citizen Science and Research Skills such as using a Dichotomous Key

    • Suburban and Urban Ecology and Management

Steps to start your journey

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