Northern Neck Master Naturalists
Trained & Certified Virgina Master Naturalists

Basic Training old

Basic Training

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
at Hughlett Point NAP by Kyle Langford

We are currently planning our next Basic Training class for Spring of 2019. 
Please email if you are interested in receiving periodic updates about the class.

Northern Neck Master Naturalists Basic Training Program

Northern Neck Master Naturalists Basic Training Program

Photo by Arlene Crabbe at VIMS during 2017 Basic Training

As a community-based Natural Resources Volunteer Program, the Northern Neck Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists are volunteer educators, citizen scientists, and stewards helping Virginia conserve and manage natural resources and public lands. The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. Interested Virginians become Master Naturalists through training and volunteer service.

Rigorous. Fun. Meaningful: It's What We Do. All over the state, Virginia Master Naturalists train for certification, 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.

The process for becoming a certified Virginia Master Naturalist typically takes 6 to 12 months. The process begins with a 40-hour basic training course offered by our local chapter of the program. An additional 8 hours of advanced training are also required. An important part of the certification process is the required 40 hours of volunteer service which is performed within the community. 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. 

The basic training course covers the background knowledge and skills that every naturalist needs to have. The course is tailored to fit our local Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula environment and community.   In fact, many trainees feel that the highlight of the course is the weekly field exercises that take place at various locations throughout the area.  We visit our renowned State Parks but also some of our lesser-known Natural  Area Preserves and State Forests.

Our instructors include experts from state agencies and environmental organizations as well as Master Naturalists who enjoy sharing their acquired knowledge and experience.

Trainees learn water quality testing with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Monthly webinars and chapter programs support continuing education opportunities following completion of your basic training course.

A Virginia Master Naturalist will know…

A Virginia Master Naturalist will know…

Photo by Kyle Langford at Rappahannock River during 2017 Basic Training

 • 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
 • Basic concepts of geology
 • Basic resource management principles
 • Some native flora and fauna in the region
 • The general process of science
 • The roles of Virginia state agencies in the management and conservation of natural resources


A Virginia Master Naturalist will be able to…

A Virginia Master Naturalist will be able to…

Gardening at Wilna Tract during 2017 Basic Training by Arlene Crabbe

 • 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

Positive Comments

Positive Comments

Photo by Arlene Crabbe at VIMS during 2017 Basic Training

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.