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

Photo by Arlene Crabbe at VIMS during 2017 Basic Training

Photo by Arlene Crabbe at VIMS during 2017 Basic Training

The next Northern Neck Master Naturalist Basic
Training course will be held
late February- May 2019.


The application process for the 2019 class has started

Registration for the 2019 Basic Training Class is now open. If interested, please read “Course Information for Applicants.” Then fill out the “Volunteer Enrollment Agreement” and “Applicant Questionnaire” and mail with a $150 check to the address on “Course Information for Applicants”. If you think you may be interested but are not sure, please attend one of our Information Sessions. Applications must be postmarked by December 31. If you have any questions, please contact:

Patricia McMurray
Northern Neck Master Naturalists
Basic Training Coordinator

Course information for Applicants     Word     PDF

Volunteer Enrollment Agreement        Word    PDF

Applicant Questionnaire                    Word    PDF    


For more information and an opportunity to ask questions about our program:

  • Plan to attend one of the Information Sessions that will be held during the Fall 2018.

  • 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

Photo by Kyle Langford during 2017 Basic Training Water Quality Testing

Photo by Kyle Langford during 2017 Basic Training Water Quality Testing

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 is a $150 fee for course materials. Additional materials are provided via thumb drive, website, or email.


Here’s the current schedule for BTC Winter/Spring 2019. Some of the information may change.

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

Positive Comments

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