Become a Virginia Master Naturalist!

Applications have closed for our 2023 class. Stay tuned for a tentative 2024 class with applications accepted at the end of this year.

2023 Basic Training Class

The Headwaters Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program will hold its 8th Basic Training Class in the Spring and Fall of 2023. Applications are due by December 31, 2022. Enrollment decisions will be made, and applicants notified, by January 30, 2023.

Bridgewater College’s McKinney Center for Science and Mathematics

Classes will tentatively be held weekly on Tuesday evenings March-May and September-November 2023, 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 2023 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 2023, 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.

Apply online HERE by December 31, 2022.

There is a $225 fee for this class that includes instruction, texts, and organizational dues for your first year as a member.

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 2023 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
  • mushroom walks at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at JMU and the George Washington National Forest
  • Saw-whet owl banding
  • Quarry Gardens tour
  • presentation about Wildlife Corridors in Virginia
  • Peregrine Falcon population restoration program at Shenandoah National Park
  • 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.