Virginia Master Naturalists are volunteer educators, citizen scientists, and stewards helping Virginia conserve and manage natural resources and public lands. The Virginia Master Naturalist statewide Program oversees the organization of local chapters which hold volunteer training classes and work with partners to organize service projects benefiting their communities.
Our Headwaters Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program is based in Augusta and Rockingham counties in north central Virginia. Chartered in November 2011, it is one of the newest of 29 statewide chapters. The cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro lie within our service area.
Our chapter serves a very special and ecologically important area of Virginia. Augusta and Rockingham Counties are the natal grounds of two of Virginia’s famous rivers: the Shenandoah River and the James River. Hence our chapter’s name reflects both our special opportunity and special responsibility to care for the birthplace of two of our state’s great river systems that provide nourishing water for all the species that inhabit our lands, including the people!
The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is jointly sponsored by:
- Virginia Cooperative Extension
- Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
- Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
- Virginia Department of Forestry
- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
- Virginia Museum of Natural History
- Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s Center for Coastal Resources Management
The Program is based in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation within the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech.
Program Chapters utilize local partners including schools, nature centers, nonprofits, and local governments for resources and volunteer opportunities. Statewide the program has 1,100 active volunteers. Since the program’s inception in 2006, these volunteers have contributed some 230,000 hours of service, worth close to $5 million to the state of Virginia.
Becoming a certified Virginia Master Naturalist starts with
- attending a basic training course. The Headwaters Chapter offers a 60 hour, two session basic training course that includes a minimum of 15 hours in the field. In order to take full advantage of seasonal training opportunities, the class begins in the Fall and finishes in the Spring. Find out more about our training course here.
The certification process is completed by
- accumulating 40 hours of volunteer service and an additional
- 8 hours of advanced training within a year of completing the coursework.
To maintain certification, each Master Naturalist must complete 40 hours of volunteer service each year and 8 hours of Advanced Training. Volunteer projects can be as diverse as the Master Naturalists themselves covering:
- Education – teach adults and youth about nature.
- Citizen Science – collect data on wildlife and plant populations, water quality, and more.
- Stewardship – restore wildlife habitat, install a rain garden, build a trail …
The Headwaters Chapter is administered by a Board of Directors which meets monthly in Bridgewater or Verona. Besides officers of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, the board consists of the Past President, Chapter Advisor, Historian/ Parliamentarian and Standing Committee Chairs. Standing Committees include:
- Basic Training Committee
- Membership Committee
- Volunteer Service Projects Committee
- Continuing Education Committee
- Program/Hosting Committee
- Outreach Committee
- Newsletter and Website Committee
Details of our chapter administration are in the Headwaters Chapter Operating Handbook.
Come join us to both learn and serve. Learn about the amazing local flora and fauna, earth and sky, urban and wild ecology all around us through the basic training we offer. Then take that deeper connection you’ve fostered and give back to nature and our communities through service and stewardship alongside others who are building a caring and committed community of naturalists through advanced training and volunteer service.
Virginia Master Naturalist programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. We are an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.