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.

Service projects fall into four key areas: Citizen Science, Stewardship, Education/Outreach, and Chapter Administration.

Citizen Science

Citizen scientists are volunteers who collect data relating to the natural world typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists. This data describes the lives, habits, and responsiveness to change of plant and animal species or communities, and supplies scientists and policy-makers with the information they need to make informed management and policy decisions.

Citizen Science projects may include:

  • Bird, butterfly, frog and toad counts
  • Wildlife and native plant mapping and surveys
  • Camera trapping
  • Stream monitoring
  • Vernal pool monitoring

Some projects Middle Peninsula Chapter participates in: “Catch the King” –  A GPS data collection effort for tidal mapping that is used to help scientists improve tidal flooding forecast models as sea levels continue to rise; CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network) – A volunteer network of backyard weather observers working together to measure and map precipitation in their local communities; eBird – An online database of observations collected from bird walks and counts that is used to provide information about bird distribution, abundance, and habitat use.

Butterfly Observation: Susan Crockett. Photo by Karen Duhring.
“Catch the King”: John Powell at Gloucester Point Beach. Photo by Karen Duhring.
11693 birdwatching social distancing
Middle Peninsula Master Naturalists and Middle Peninsula Bird Club members practiced social distancing while viewing 28 species of birds during a bird walk on March 19, 2020 at Beaverdam Park in Gloucester. Participants included, from left, Anne Sullivan, Doug Dwoyer, Ed Pels, Pat Anderson, and Jeri Trudeau. Even the bird flying in the background maintained a responsible distance. Photo by Susan Crockett.

Ready to join in the fun? Become a birdwatcher and learn how you can become a contributing citizen scientist. Get started with our guide: Self-paced Birdwatching!


Education/Outreach opportunities allow volunteers to engage with the public to show them the importance of conservation and how they can become involved. This area of service might be a perfect fit for people who enjoy teaching, public speaking, or working with youth.

Education/Outreach projects may include:

  • Leading programs in a nearby state park.
  • Developing or leading an interpretive trail
  • Developing educational materials
  • Giving a presentation on a natural resource/environmental topic
  • Staffing an information booth at community events

Chapter activities include: Schoolyard Habitat Outreach Pollinator Partners (Gloucester) – Volunteers work with teachers and students to provide expertise and lessons on wildlife and habitat topics; Gloucester Parks, Recreation & Tourism Educational Programs – Volunteers assist park rangers by providing programming expertise and serving as a resource when park staff have questions. Topics include water quality, tree walks, and macroinvertebrate studies.


Stewardship projects promote the beneficial management of our natural resources and public lands, and may include restoration efforts. Stewardship brings volunteers outside, gets them dirty, and shows them tangible results of their work.

Stewardship projects may include:

  • Planting trees
  • Protecting streams
  • Constructing concrete balls for placing in nearby rivers to allow oysters to grow from seeds to adulthood
  • Restoring and maintaining wildlife habitats
  • Improving water quality
  • Building and maintaining park trails

Our volunteers are involved with: Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) Oyster Restoration Program – An effort to re-establish the native oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay by using reclaimed oyster shells to provide habitat for oyster spat that are then planted on sanctuary reefs in the tributaries of the Bay; Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) – Maintenance of the Teaching Marsh and assisting Aquarium Staff.

CBF Oyster Restoration Program: Preparing oyster shells for washing, from left, Henry Thompson and Bill Blair. Photo by Rose Sullivan.

Chapter Administration

Become involved in guiding and administering the activities of your local chapter. This may include serving on a committee or the Board of Directors.