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What is a Master Naturalist?

What is a Master Naturalist?

June 14, 2023

The Virginia Master Naturalist (VMN) program is a community-based natural resources volunteer program. Virginia Master Naturalists are volunteer educators, citizen scientists, and stewards helping Virginia conserve and manage natural resources and public lands. The VMN program provides opportunities for people to learn about nature and become active resource stewards, citizen scientists, and educators. VMNs train for certification then maintain that certification by participating in local projects as they sojourn through forests and fields, collect data in streams, beaches, and backyards - all the while continuing to learn and share our enthusiasm for Virginia’s bountiful and beautiful habitats. John Muir mused, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” So it is with a Virginia Master Naturalist. 


VMN has four chapters surrounding the Northern Virginia science community - Arlington Regional chapter, Banshee Reeks chapter in Loudoun, Merrimac Farm Chapter in Prince William, and Fairfax Chapter centered in Fairfax County and Alexandria. Because of our shared mission and proximity, chapters frequently collaborate on projects that touch our borders. Fairfax Chapter (FMN) members contribute to natural resource and conservation projects tailored to our local community. Projects range from invasive plant management and litter cleanups to a myriad of educational and citizen science projects. We lead interpretive nature walks, educational programs, kayak tours, and advise homeowners on native plant landscaping to name a few.  

When we are engaged in our personal endeavor in field, forest, mountain, river, wetland, or garden sanctuary we must bathe in the presence of wonder, keep close to Nature’s heart, and work hard not only with tools but with our imagination. Imagination that is evident in the vision of the Northern Virginia Science Center. For, “In the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself." -William Blake.


Written by Jerry Nissley, Fairfax Master Naturalist Chapter