Northern Neck Master Naturalists
Trained & Certified Virgina Master Naturalists

Basic Training

Basic Training

The Basic Training Course is the first step toward becoming a
Virginia Master Naturalist

Find out ABOUT US

The last Northern Neck Master Naturalist Basic Training Course
was held in Spring 2019

Watch for the announcement of our next Basic Training Course

Gardening at Wilna Tract during 2017 Basic Training by Arlene Crabbe

Gardening at Wilna Tract during 2017 Basic Training
by Arlene Crabbe

The Basic Training Class provides:

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

  • Information from unbiased, research-based sources

  • Material on the following topics:

    • American Naturalists & Basic Ecology

    • Virginia Biogeography & Geology

    • Education and Interpretation Skills

    • Citizen Science and Research Skills

    • Ecology and Management of the systems occurring in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula

    • Overview of vertebrates, invertebrates, trees and other plants (biology, ecology, identification, conservation and management)

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

  • Creating, maintaining, and submitting a Field Journal

  • Completion of a final exam

Note: There was a $150 fee for course materials. Additional materials are provided via thumb drive, website, or email.

For questions about the Basic Training Course, the application process, or to be put on the mailing list, please contact the NN Master Naturalists at


Here’s the a sample schedule from BTC Winter/Spring 2019

Photo by a game camera during a 2017 Basic Training Class Project at Bush Mill Stream NAP

Photo by a game camera during a 2017 Basic Training Class Project at Bush Mill Stream NAP


Recent Northern Neck Master Naturalist Basic Training graduates obviously enjoyed the class, learned a lot and were inspired to do more.  Just a few of the positive comments from the 2016 and 2017 class:

On fossils and field trip to Fossil Beach in Westmoreland State Park:
“Enjoyed Cindy's Presentation. Liked the fact she brought her fossils for us to view. Could tell she finds joy in finding, identifying her finds and sharing her knowledge with others.”

On Aquatic Ecology Class:
“The challenge to our rivers' health is still a large one today.  Is there hope for our children and grandchildren-At times I'm very discouraged .  Today's speaker lifted me out of this apathy.”

On Coastal Ecosystems Class at Virginia Institute of Marine Science:
“This is why I took this course! This presentation was so helpful and informative. Excellent job answering questions and explaining things so that everyone can understand.”

On Wetlands Ecology Class:
“Excellent and informative presentation with great visuals.  I know a great deal more about wetlands after today.”

In General:
“I liked all of the speakers and very much appreciated the opportunity to hear “their side” in terms of environmental protection and priorities.”

“All the field trips were fun and informative.  I would recommend them all again because they were all different in some to many ways.  And we were introduced to different things-good for understanding ecological perspectives, i.e. communities.”

“I liked the schedule.  It was rigorous with a massive amount of information, but the material was in our minds when we returned the next week for class.  Further, I think the friendships in the class were tighter being that we met every week, which really helped the class be more fun and interesting.”

“I especially liked the walk at Belle Isle with Teta Kain.  A beautiful day, the field was full of birds and lepidopterans and great plants, and learning and excitement were contagious!.  She was versatile enough to tackle all of those fields and her enthusiasm made learning exciting and fun!”

“The class project was a good mechanism to get us started on the 40 hours of service, also helps class pursue their interests with guidance, and helps class know each other better.”

“All of the speakers were knowledgeable and informative. Karen During, Michelle Prysby, Sarah Nuss, and Tim Christensen were terrific!  Bill Blair’s extensive knowledge is amazing."

Check out “Adventures with Arlene” in our Summer2016newsletter.pdf.  Arlene is a 2016 graduate who was able to use her observation skills and contacts from the Basic Training Class to identify dead wildlife and report it to the proper state agencies.  Through those contacts she discovered additional volunteer opportunities at her favorite natural area.


For more details about the Virginia’s Master Naturalist program and training, visit the state’s website:

Youth 14-17 participating with a parent may be accepted under some circumstances