VMN State Program Committees Update

More changes being made based on feedback from our strategic planning process:  Makeup of our program’s steering and executive committees

from VMN Program Coordinator Alycia Crall, March 31, 2014

Many of our volunteers were concerned that both committees did not have adequate volunteer representation.  To address this need, I have appointed four volunteer representatives to the steering committee, one from each of the four regions described for our regional conferences.  I have pasted their bios and the regions they represent below.  Please join me in congratulating them on being selected to serve in this role and extending our appreciation for their time and dedication to the program.  I will work with these individuals and other members of our steering committee to develop a formal process to guide future representation from both our sponsoring agencies and our chapters.

For volunteer representation on the executive committee, I would like to request that we appoint two members that will also serve on an Advisory Board for our program’s new Foundation account through Virginia Tech.  This new Advisory Board will direct how funds going into the account are spent and will also develop statewide fundraising initiatives to help support growth of the program.  Because the account is new, an Advisory Board has not yet been appointed.  So, first things first.

If you would like to serve on the Advisory Board, please send me a description (no more than one page) of your interest and your prior experience that would allow you to serve effectively in this role (e.g., fundraising, non-profit management, etc.).  I would also like to request a letter of support from your chapter’s Board of Directors to accompany your application.

We would like to have at least one representative from each of the four regions on the Board.  Once I receive applications from folks, I will move forward with selection of a Board and they can internally select a chair and two representatives to sit on the executive committee.  Similar to the steering committee, I will work with these individuals and other members of the executive committee to develop a formal process to guide future representation from both our sponsoring agencies and our chapters.  If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.  Many thanks, Alycia acrall@vt.edu

Jack Price, Northern Region Volunteer Representative

Jack Price is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University and a Vietnam veteran of the US Air Force.  He spent a 30-year career with the Department of Veterans Affairs and retired as the Director of Personnel Policy for the VA Hospital System.  Jack became a Certified Virginia Master Naturalist in 2008 after taking the training in 2007. He also became a Virginia Master Gardener in 2006.  Jack helped to organize the Old Rag Chapter and served as the Chapter’s first president from 2008 – 2010.  He currently chairs the Chapter’s Education Committee, teaches classes on biodiversity and non-native invasive plants, and has logged 3,000 hours as a Master Naturalist volunteer.  Jack has served on the Board of Directors of the Shenandoah National Park Association since 2006 and was the Board President from 2010 thru 2013.  He is also a volunteer in Shenandoah National Park.  Jack speaks to a variety of groups about our “natural world” and in 2012 he was named the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District’s Conservation Educator of the Year.


Susan Powell, Southeastern Region Volunteer Representative

Susan Powell has been a member of the Historic Rivers Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist program since its founding in 2006/2007.  She has held the positions of President, Vice President, Volunteer Service Project Chair, Membership Chair, and Basic Training Chair.  To date, Susan has volunteered 4355 hours as a Virginia Master Naturalist.  Her projects/activities within the chapter have included: organizing the initial Board of Directors; developing the Basic Training Program, including organizing notes, quizzes, and the final exam; organizing the Volunteer Management System; implementing the WildlifeMapping project, including conducting WildlifeMapping Certification workshops; and creating the wildlife portion of the interactive kiosk at James City County’s Freedom Park.  She also teaches the following basic training sessions for the Historic Rivers Chapter: Habitat Part 1, The Nature of Habitat; Habitat Part 2, The Classification of Habitat; and Building Citizen Science and Research Skills.  Susan also teaches the ornithology basic training session for the Peninsula and Historic Southside Chapters.


Dorothy Tompkins, Central Region Volunteer Representative

Dorothy Tompkins was a member of the first class of Rivanna Master Naturalists.  She has served as the chapter’s President, Chair of Volunteer Projects, and as a member of the curriculum, advanced training, program and diversity committees.  She was also a member of the Search Committee for the VMN program coordinator.  Dorothy serves as an instructor for birding classes and is a speaker for local groups on native plants, invasive plants, and beginner birding.  She started a new Junior Naturalists 4H Club and helped for the Northern Neck Chapter, including writing their syllabus.  She has completed Train the Trainer Sessions for Project Underground and Habitat for Wildlife.  Dorothy is also a Master Gardener.  In this role, she has served as President, Volunteer Project Coordinator, Training Class Coordinator, botany instructor, and coordinator for numerous other projects.  She has initiated a gardening project with the local jail, and the local chapter received a VMG Search for Excellence Award for this project.  Dorothy also serves a volunteer for the Charlottesville Area Tree Steward, assists with City Schoolyard Gardens, serves as the Albemarle Garden Club Horticulture Chair, and as a member of the GCV Horticulture Committee.  Before retirement, Dorothy served as an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Virginia and continues to serve as a member of the Academy of Distinguished Educators.  In her volunteer and professional life, Dorothy has received numerous honors and awards that include the Daily Progress Distinguished Dozen (2013), Master Gardener of the Year (2013), Garden Club of America Club Civic Improvement Award (2013), and the University of Virginia School of Medicine Award for Excellence in Teaching.


Ellen Reynolds, Southeastern Region Volunteer Representative

Ellen Reynolds was a member of the Virginia Master Naturalist exploratory group, which visited St. Louis in 2005 to determine whether the Master Naturalist program was feasible for adoption in Virginia.  She has been a member of the program’s Steering Committee since its inception in 2006, working on bylaws, training requirements for chapters, developing the syllabus for the VMN program, and providing training for new chapter coordinators.  She organized the Board of Directors, created a syllabus, created training guidelines, and taught several of the initial training classes for the Beagle Ridge Chapter.  She has been a member of the Beagle Ridge Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists since its founding in 2006/2007, holding the positions of President, Vice President and Chapter Training Coordinator.  She was chair of the committee that organized the first annual VMN Conference in Wytheville in 2008.  She is currently a facilitator/educator for Project Learning Tree, Project WET, Project Underground, Project WILD, Wildlife Mapping, and a trainer for the Watershed Institute.  She is also an educator for the following basic training sessions for the Beagle Ridge Chapter: ecology, ecosystems/habitats, wetlands, interpretation, entomology (specialty in Lepidoptera), SOS basic training, plant identification, tree identification, and citizen science.