Who We Are

A Community-based, Natural Resources Volunteer Program


Newly emerged Monarch butterfly on purple coneflower. Notice the Monarch chrysalis on the left. Photo by Mike Powell.

Virginia Master Naturalists are volunteer educators, citizen scientists, and stewards helping Virginia conserve and manage natural resources and public lands.

People who are curious about nature, enjoy the outdoors, and want to be a part of natural resource management and conservation in Virginia are perfect candidates to become Virginia Master Naturalists.

State-Guided, Locally Focused: How the VMN Program is Structured


Prothonotary Warbler with insect larvae to feed to its young. Photo by Judy Jones.

Composed of 29 semi-independent, locally focused chapters, The Virginia Master Naturalist program is actively supported, guided, and represented by the over-arching statewide VMN program.

Through their local chapters, VMN volunteers train and serve with the variety of partner groups and institutions who are already working in locally relevant natural resources education and outreach projects.

The success of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program relies on these partnerships between chapters and organizations, state and local agencies, non-profits, and other citizen groups.

Rigorous. Fun. Meaningful:
It's What We Do.


Osprey. Photo by Mike Powell.

All over the state, Virginia Master Naturalists train for certifications, then maintain that certification by launching or participating in local projects as they trek through forests and fields, collect data in streams, beaches, and backyards—all while continuing to learn and sharing their enthusiasm for Virginia’s natural world.

What We Do

Citizen Science

Citizen scientists follow consistent protocols to collect data that supply scientists and policy-makers with the information they need to make informed management and policy decisions


Collecting data on birds and other wildlife. Photo by Shirley Devan.

Citizen Projects may include:

  • Bird, butterfly, frog and toad counts
  • Wildlife and native plant mapping and surveys
  • Camera trapping
  • Stream monitoring

These data describe the lives, habits, and responsiveness to change of plant and animals.



Leading an environmental education camp for youth. Photo by Felice Bond.

People who enjoy teaching, public speaking, or working with youth may do education-related service projects, such as leading programs in a nearby state park.

Education/Outreach Projects may include:

  • Developing an interpretive trail
  • Being a guest presenter on a natural resource topic
  • Staffing presentations at fairs, booths, or other events
  • Other educational or outreach activities that promote environmental education


Stewardship brings volunteers outside, gets them dirty, and shows them tangible results of their work.


Constructing oyster reefs. Photo by Jennifer Trevino.

Stewardship Projects may include:

  • Planting trees
  • Protecting streams
  • Constructing concrete reef balls for placing in nearby rivers to allow oysters to grow from seeds to adulthood
  • Restoring and maintaining wildlife habitat, improving water quality.
  • Building and maintaining park trails.
  • Removing exotic or invasive plants
  • Planting native plants at a nature center

Our Sponsors

The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is jointly sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Museum of Natural History, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.