Excited and curious about the natural world? Enjoy being outside? Want to play an ACTIVE role in the management and conservation of Virginia’s natural resources? If so…the Virginia Master Naturalist program is for you!

As members of a community-based natural resources program, Virginia Master Naturalists are volunteer educators, citizen scientists, and stewards helping Virginians conserve and manage natural resources and public lands.

Ways you can help:

  • Education – Teach adults and youth about nature!
  • Citizen Science – Collect data on wildlife and plant populations, water quality, and more!
  • Stewardship – Restore wildlife habitat, clean up a local stream, or build a trail!

Interested Virginians become Master Naturalists through training and volunteer service. Click here to learn more.

The Middle Peninsula Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists will begin a new basic training course for interested Middle Peninsula residents in the fall, with signups starting March 1.

This young chapter currently has more than 60 members and is eager to grow with more members to help conserve and manage the environment and the natural resources in the five counties it serves. By providing volunteer citizen scientists, educators, and stewards of our environment, we are truly making a difference in our local areas. Please consider joining us.

The Basic Training Course covers background knowledge and skills to prepare students for their volunteer service. The training course begins at the end of August and concludes around the end of January. There is a holiday break from the weekly class. Classes will be provided online via Zoom, during the evening. In-person field trips are a part of the training and will be conducted on some Saturdays.

mpmn btc
The Middle Peninsula Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists will begin signups soon for its upcoming fall basic training course. Participants will take part in online training and in-person field trips, like this one which was led by Lisa Deaton, at right from the Virginia Department of Forestry on public land in Gloucester.

For more information and to apply for the upcoming training, email Middle Peninsula Master Naturalists on our Contact page. Applications will be accepted from March to mid-May.


Master Naturalists in Action:

February 18, 2023 – Great Backyard Bird Count

29 species of birds were observed and 541 birds were counted during the Middle Peninsula Bird Club’s Great Backyard Bird Count at Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve in Mathews County on Saturday, February 18. This count was also the Winter Bird and Wildlife Survey for a Middle Peninsula Master Naturalist Project in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resource’s Adopt-a-Trail program.

The group also visited New Point Comfort Natural Area Preserve and observed 16 species with 186 individual birds counted. The highlight there was watching two pairs of Bald Eagles engage in the courtship ritual of a mid-air spiraling dance.


February 4 & 5, 2023 – Winter Water Fowl Count

Birders throughout Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula participated in the annual Winter Water Fowl Count. Attached are several photos of one of our observation groups. These birders counted along the Rappahannock River. We had five teams of observers scattered across the coastline and creeks of Middlesex County. Our final totals reported 2,955 waterfowl that included 25 species.


Meet our 2023 Officers

Members of the Middle Peninsula Master Naturalists Chapter met recently at Virginia Institute of Marine Science at Gloucester Point to celebrate the success of their many environmental activities that had taken place in the five Middle Peninsula counties throughout the year. This was a holiday happening, a monthly meeting, and the installation of the new officers for 2023. This young chapter is active and growing in membership each year.

MPMN officers 2023
The new officers, pictured from left, are President – Luann Johnson, Secretary – Tara Hart, Treasurer – C.J. Sweet, and Vice-President – Hurricane Thompson. Photo by Susan Walton.


December 27, 2022 – Middle Peninsula Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Total Birds: 10,719

Total species identified:  87

Most numerous species: Red-Winged Blackbirds (3,046), Ruddy Ducks (1,122) and Ring-Billed Gulls (959)
Participants: 53; 30 were Virginia Master Naturalists from four local chapters.
Volunteers were in the field counting birds for 10 hours traveling in cars and walking on foot to find the birds in three counties – parts of Gloucester, Middlesex, and King and Queen counties. Public parks were visited and many, many private property owners allowed us access to count the birds. We are very appreciative of their support for this important citizen science event. The Christmas Bird Count has been organized and sponsored by the National Audubon Society for 123 years!
Red-Tailed Hawk by Mark Sopko
Red-tailed Hawk at the Glenns campus of Rappahannock Community College. Photo by Mark Sopko.

The program is open to all adults regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.