Become a Master Naturalist

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.

To become a Virginia Master Naturalist, you must complete a basic training course (a minimum of 40 hours of both field and classroom experiences). To become a Certified Virginia Master Naturalist, you must complete 40 hours of volunteer service and 8 additional hours of continuing education within one year following completion of basic training. To maintain certification, you must complete 40 additional hours of service and participate in 8 hours of continuing education annually.

You can complete your service in four key areas: Citizen Science, Stewardship, Education/Outreach, and Chapter Administration – more details can be found on our Projects page. Monthly webinars and chapter programs support continuing education opportunities.

Basic training covers the background knowledge and skills that every naturalist needs to have. The Middle Peninsula chapter’s course is tailored to fit our local environment and community, and includes material on the following topics:

  • Introduction to Virginia Master Naturalist Program
  • Risk Management
  • Citizen Science and Research Tools
  • Journals and Field Notes
  • Climate and Weather
  • Ecological Concepts
  • Dendrology
  • Entomology
  • Aquatic Ecology and Management
  • Forest Ecology and Conservation
  • Ornithology
  • Botany
  • Taxonomy
  • Using Field Guides and Dichotomous Keys
  • Biogeography
  • Geology
  • Soils
  • Fossils
  • Ichthyology
  • Mammalogy
  • Herpetology
  • Wetlands Ecology and Management
  • Estuarine and Coastal Ecology and Management
  • Noted Naturalists

Class size is limited to 20 participants.

The Middle Peninsula Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists will be conducting a Basic Training Course for new members starting the beginning of 2022. Classes will run from February through May. Classroom instruction will be virtual and in-person outdoor field training will also be included.

The application process is now open and will close on October 18, 2021. The process consists of three steps: 

  1. Complete the online application. Click here to access application.
  2. Download the Course Agreement for Applicants Feb 2022. This form will familiarize you with the course and its requirements. If you agree to the terms of the course, please “sign” the agreement by typing your name at the bottom and send it to
  3. Submission of your $175 course fee. The $175 will be refunded to you should you not be accepted into the course or you are accepted and decide to drop out prior to the third online class. If you are unwilling to sign the Course Agreement do not send in your course fee. Your check should be made out to Middle Peninsula Master Naturalists and be sent to Middle Peninsula Chapter – Virginia Master Naturalists, P.O. Box 1614, Gloucester, VA 23061-1614.

We will begin checking your references and will contact you about scheduling your online interview in the coming weeks after we receive your course agreement.  We are looking forward to working with you through the application process and your eventual enrollment in our Basic Training Course. 

For more information, email Middle Peninsula Master Naturalists on our Contact page. 

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.