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Creating Exceptional Leadership for Natural Resource Conservation

Raised toward our $8,400 Goal
134 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on November 15, at 09:00 AM EST
Project Owners

Creating Exceptional Leadership for Natural Resource Conservation

About Us     

The Virginia Master Naturalist (VMN) program is a corps of 29 local chapters with more than 1,800 trained volunteers engaged in natural resource education, citizen science, and stewardship.  

Virginia Master Naturalist volunteers make a difference by teaching people about nature, collecting data as citizen scientists, & improving habitat through land stewardship. Photo credits, top left: VMN-Historic Rivers Chapter, top right: Carol Hammer (VMN-Northern Neck Chapter), bottom: VMN-Pocahontas Chapter

Essentially all program activities at the local level are conducted by volunteers, from recruiting new participants and providing training to organizing service projects and tracking volunteer hours.  The volunteer chapter leaders in each region of the state are the linchpins of the VMN program and are critical to the success achievement of our conservation mission. 


Our Need

Having these 300+ volunteer leaders run all local aspects of a large, statewide program such as ours is challenging.  As our chapters grow and evolve, we find there is an increasing need to train and support those local leaders so that we have a strong supply of volunteers who are confident and prepared to take on the leadership roles.  High-quality local leaders increase the overall impact of our chapters, so that they can recruit and retain more volunteers, accomplish more impactful service projects, and ultimately make more significant contributions to natural resource conservation in the Commonwealth.

Virginia Master Naturalist volunteers serving in local leadership roles contribute more than 30,000 hours a year keeping the program running, and we need your help so that we can support them! Photo credit: Terri Keffert, VMN-Rivanna Chapter


The Impacts You Can Make With Your Gift

The purpose of our project is to provide training and resources to increase the capacity of our local volunteer leaders.  We will hold four regional Leadership Days at which we will provide training on effective management of VMN chapters, strategies for decision-making and conflict resolution, and plans for creating and organizing impactful service projects.  In addition, we will create online resources (e.g., webinars, manuals, templates) that our volunteer leaders, especially those new to their roles, will use.

In the short term, our project will increase volunteers’ willingness to take on and stay in leadership roles, and it will increase their efficacy in those roles.  In the long term, our project will result in more robust Virginia Master Naturalist chapters that are better at recruiting, retaining, and managing volunteers and partnerships so that they have more positive impacts on Virginia’s woods, wildlife, and waters.

 While we do receive monetary support from our agency partners, it does not cover all of our baseline budget.  Philanthropy is critical for helping us sustain and grow the Virginia Master Naturalist program.  Photo credits, left to right: Captain Debbie Ritter (VMN-Eastern Shore Chapter), Patty Maloney (VMN-Historic Rivers Chapter)

    For as little as $5, you can help us support our volunteers so that they can do more for Virginia's environment!

Please note that, since the VMN program is part of Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension, your gift will go to the Virginia Tech Foundation.  It will be earmarked for the VMN program, and you'll receive acknowledgement of your gift from Virginia Tech.

Choose a giving level


Mason Bee

Mason bees are important native pollinators! At this level, you are helping us efficiently share knowledge and opportunities amongst our VMN volunteers. (Equals the cost to email out one VMN opportunity.)


Eastern Hemlock

The Eastern Hemlock helps create habitat for brook trout and other aquatic species that depend on cool, shady streams. At this level, you are helping us create a program environment that supports a diversity of volunteers. (Equals the cost of one hour of time working with volunteer leaders.)


Eastern Oyster

One Chesapeake Bay oyster can filter more than 50 gallons of water in just one day! At this level, you are helping us keep our program healthy and thriving. (Equals the cost per person for our Leadership Day events.)


American Chestnut

The American Chestnut once provided a bounty of resources for both wildlife and humans! At this level, you are helping us create new templates and materials for use by our volunteer leaders. (Equals the value of 4 hours of volunteer time.)


Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead shrikes are small birds but fierce predators! At this level, you can make a major impact in helping us train and support new volunteer leaders. (Equals the value of 10 hours of volunteer time.)

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