Become a Virginia Master Naturalist!

Soon after our 2020 Basic Training Class began, COVID arrived! The class moved to a Zoom format in the fall of 2020 and is completing its second session this spring of 2021.

We anticipate our next Basic Training Class will be held in 2022 with applications to attend becoming available in the fall of 2021.

2020 Basic Training Class

The Headwaters Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program will hold its 7th Basic Training Class in the Spring and Fall of 2020. Applications are due by January 1, 2020.

Bridgewater College’s McKinney Center for Science and Mathematics

Classes will be held weekly on Thursday evenings March-May and September-November 2020, between approximately 6-9 pm at

McKinney Science Center
Bridgewater College
Dinkel Avenue
Bridgewater, VA

The class format involves two and one-half months of one night a week evening classes in SPRING 2020 and various field trips, followed by a summer break which includes opportunities to continue learning, both indoors and out, and to develop chapter identity through introductions to chapter members and ongoing projects. The course concludes with another two and one-half month session of weekly evening classes in FALL 2020, finishing up with a celebratory commencement.

With each class we look for those individuals who are curious about the natural world, enjoy the outdoors, and want to develop the necessary skills for volunteering and contributing to natural resource management, preservation and conservation in Virginia.

To apply, print out and complete the application found here as a PDF file, or here as a Word doc, (these links have been disconnected. We are transitioning to an online application process in 2021) and send it in with the training fee of $200.00 by January 1, 2020, to

Headwaters Master Naturalists
P.O. Box 3
Dayton, VA 22821

Or attach your application to an email message to: [at] and mail the training fee to the address above.

Please make training fee checks payable to Headwaters Master Naturalists.

The $200 cost of the 60-hour training class for 2020 covers field manuals, reference guides, digital and other reference materials, multi-modal learning and field experience opportunities.

Your money will be returned should your application be unsuccessful.

Limited need-based scholarships are available. Please email us at [at] for more information.

The Chapter will waive its $12 annual membership dues for new graduates documenting volunteer service hours for their year of graduation.

If you have questions about the 2020 Spring/Fall Basic Training class or need help with the application, please email us at [at]

More about what it means to be a Virginia Master Naturalist.

The basic training course covers background knowledge and skills that every Virginia Master Naturalist needs to have. Topics include

  • Virginia biogeography
  • Core biology topics such as ornithology, entomology, botany, and dendrology
  • Basic ecology
  • Geology
  • Climate and weather
  • Management and conservation of ecological systems such as forests and streams
  • Citizen science
  • Volunteer project development skills
  • Teaching and interpretive skills
  • The roles of Virginia state agencies in the management and conservation of natural resources
Sandy at Todd Lake

The volunteer hours and continuing education needed to attain “certified master naturalist” status may be acquired simultaneously with the training course and/or within a year of commencement. With emphases on public education, stewardship, citizen science, and chapter development, Headwaters Chapter volunteer opportunities include or have included

Cohort IV at Cooks Creek Arboretum

A sampling of past continuing education opportunities includes

  • Grand Caverns tour, river walk, and bat presentation
  • a public forum on Valley Farm Stewardship
  • Saw-whet owl banding
  • JMU’s LLI classes on Butterflies, local Fish Culture, and Landscaping for Wildlife
  • Tree Steward classes
  • a JMU forum on Citizen Science and Environmental Advocacy
  • forest management at the McCormick Farm
  • evening herp “hunting” at Hone Quarry
  • tours of the Black Bear Composting facility in Crimora
  • a presentation about the 2016 Rocky Mount fire in Shenandoah National Park


This video, generously produced by VMN volunteer Sonny Bowers (Historic Rivers Chapter), gives viewers a great sense for what it means to be a VMN volunteer and why the program is so important.