fb logo

VA Master Naturalist Program

The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is designed to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Virginia Museum of Natural History is one of the seven sponsoring agencies of the Virginia Master Naturalist program, along with the Virginia Cooperative Extension (College of Natural Resources and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences), the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (State Parks), Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Forestry, and the Center for Coastal Resources Management.

Chapters are running and in development across Virginia. While VMNH sponsors the program state-wide, it is closely involved with three specific chapters--the Southwestern Piedmont, Rivanna, Central Virginia, and Peninsula chapters. To locate a chapter in other areas of the state and to learn the requirements for getting Master Naturalist certification, go to www.virginiamasternaturalist.org.

Southwestern Piedmont Chapter

The Southwestern Piedmont Chapter represents Master Naturalists of Martinsville, Henry County, and the surrounding areas. This chapter began its first training session for volunteers in August of 2007. Typically, the Chapter’s offers a Basic Training Course annually beginning in August and ending in December. Each class meets on Tuesday night from 6 - 8 PM with three or four Saturday local field trips. Classes are held in the education center at the Virginia Museum of Natural History and in various locations in the field.

Kathy Fell, Chapter President
Virginia Museum of Natural History

Basic Training Class Schedule

*Most classes are on Tuesday evenings from 6-8 PM,at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville. Field trips are held at various times and locations in Patrick and Henry countries.  For more information about basic training, please contact Eric Tichay at erictichay@yahoo.com.

August 15

August 22

August 29

September 02 (Saturday)
Ornithology and Wildflowers Field Trip

September 05
Interpretation and Presentation

September 12
Entomology and Invertebrates

September 19
Aquatic Ecosystems

September 23 (Saturday)
SOS Training Field Trip and Social

September 26
Weather and Climate

October 03
Geology and Physiographic Regions

October 07 (Saturday)
Geology Field Trip

October 10

October 17

October 24

October 28 (Saturday)
Woodland Ecosystems Field Trip

October 31
Citizen Science and Research Skills

November 07
Election Day (No Class)

November 14

November 18
Paleontology Field Trip

November 21

November 28
Class Presentation and Test Distribution

December 05
Test Due

Chapter Newsletter, The Vine

Master Naturalist Certification

The process for becoming a certified Virginia Master Naturalist typically takes 6 to 12 months and requires the following:

  • 40 hours of basic training, including classroom sessions and field trips
  • 8 hours of advanced training
  • 40 hours of volunteer service
  • Visit www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/index.html for more information about the state program.

Download the application form, or contact the Chapter Advisor (see above).


The membership year follows the calendar--January 1 to December 31. Anyone who has been a member of the Southwestern Piedmont chapter at any time may renew their membership online or by sending a check for $10 payable to "Southwestern Piedmont Master Naturalists" and addressed to Dr. Denny Casey, Treasurer, Virginia Museum of Natural History, 21 Starling Avenue, Martinsville, VA 24112.

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. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Some Examples of Our Volunteer Service Projects

Education Projects

  1. “Coyote”, “Hydro-Power”, and “Smith River Trail Hike” Programs presented at Cub Scout Day Camp
  2. “Creature Feature” Displays for visitors at Philpott Lake- Visitor Assistance Center
  3. Development of BSA Merit Badge Education Resources
  4. Interpretation at VMNH/tours for visiting groups
  5. Recycle Education Game
  6. Trout in the Classroom
  7. Teaching a MN Chapter Basic or Advanced Training Class
  8. Publicity and Communication Networking
  9. Area Pocket Naturalist Guide
  10. Teach SOLs 4.4 & 4.5 (Plant life and ecosystems)

Citizen Science Projects

  1. Water Quality Monitoring
  2. Plant Inventory of Frank Wilson Park
  3. Research and Collections Volunteer at VMNH
  4. Frank Wilson Park Eco-Survey

Stewardship Projects

  1. Frank Wilson Memorial Park Green-Up/Clean-Up
  2. Smith River Clean-Up
  3. Gravely Nature Preserve Stewardship Project
  4. Collection of acorns from native oak species for seedling stock
  5. Invasive Species Removal
  6. Park Beautification

Sponsors, Partners and Donations
Local Partners (Source- Annual Report):

  • Blue Ridge Foothills Chapter
  • Blue Ridge Ski and Outing Club
  • City of Martinsville
  • Dan River Basin Association
  • Danville Parks and Recreation
  • Fairy Stone State Park
  • Ferrum College
  • Friends of Philpott
  • Friends of Wilson Park
  • Gateway Streetscape Foundation
  • Henry County
  • Henry County Parks and Recreation
  • Henry County Schools
  • Martinsville City Schools
  • Martinsville Parks and Recreation
  • MHC Office of Tourism
  • Philpott Lake
  • Piedmont Arts Association
  • Reynolds Homestead
  • Rivers and Trails
  • Roanoke College
  • University of Virginia
  • Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
  • Virginia Department of Forestry
  • Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
  • Virginia Herpetological Society
  • Virginia Museum of Natural History
  • Virginia Save Our Streams
  • Virginia Tech

Make a Donation to the Chapter

A special thank you to chapter donors!
Tiffany Haworth
Lynn Regan - "Monarch" Level