Training to become a Master Naturalist

Class of 2021


The next ESMN Basic Training Course is scheduled for ten (10) consecutive Thursdays from September 8 through November 10, 2022, including both classroom instruction and field trips. The classroom instruction will be delivered at the Historic Onancock School, 6 College Avenue, Onancock, VA 23417. Classes will typically run from 9AM to 3PM, but hours may vary to accommodate field trips and speaker schedules.

You must apply online to be considered for the training. The link to the online application will be posted on this page no later than mid-May. If you have questions about the course in the interim, please contact Ann Quigley at 703-582-4525 or

MISSION: The mission of the Virginia Master Naturalist (VMN) Program is to develop a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.

The Eastern Shore Chapter sponsors and supports dozens of projects, providing a wide range of volunteer service opportunities to its members throughout Accomack and Northampton Counties.

Members work with various groups, including government agencies and non-profit organizations, in diverse settings such as wildlife refuges, parks, and nature preserves to carry out the VMN mission on the Eastern Shore. Service may involve a series of short, unrelated volunteer experiences or a long-term commitment to a single project. 

MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS: You must complete the Eastern Shore Chapter Basic Training Course.

BASIC TRAINING: The ESMN Basic Training Course covers the background knowledge and skills to prepare you for your VMN Volunteer service. This includes a wide range of topics such as botany, ecology, mammalogy, with an emphasis on the nature and natural resources of the Eastern Shore. Instructors are typically Subject Matter Experts. Historically, The ESMN class has consisted of one all-day session (9am-3pm) each week for ten consecutive weeks from September to November, including both classroom instruction and field trips. The classroom instruction has been delivered at the Historic Onancock School. In 2021 the training fee was $100. (these details are subject to change.)

Please keep the VMN mission in mind as you consider applying for the basic training. If this sounds like what you are looking for please join us!

FOR MORE INFORMATION: please contact Ann Q. via phone 703-582-4525 or email

You may also find the following links of interest:

Eastern Shore Chapter Web Site:

Eastern Shore Chapter Facebook Page:

Virginia Master Naturalist (VMN) Program Website: http//

Here is a more detailed sample curriculum from a prior class:

  • Ecological Principles.  The scientific study of the interactions between organisms and their environment.
  • Protected Lands.  Protected lands of the Eastern Shore and non-profit organizations responsible for them.
  • Barrier Island Processes.
  • Oyster Restoration.  Oyster reef restoration is rebuilding or restoring oyster reefs on the Eastern Shore. Over time, oysters have been negatively affected by the environment, population, etc.
  • Eastern Shore Forestry
  • Ornithology.  A look of Virginia’s bird life
  • Herps and Insects.  It’s not a typo–herps are snakes, toads, frogs, turtles
  • Botany.  The scientific study of plants
  • Coastal Geology.  Study the geology of Virginia and the Eastern Shore
  • Monarch Butterflies.  The Eastern Shore is a migratory route for the Monarch Butterfly.  Study the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly
  • Ichthyology.  The science of studying fishes, their habitats and population
  • Seagrass Ecology
  • Mammalogy.  The study of mammals can be exciting to everyone, and knowledge about mammals should be important to land managers and developers and others who often do not understand the importance of habitats and the species contained therein.  |Virginia Tech, 2013 Publication 165.314|
  • Invasive Species.  The impact of invasive species to the Eastern Shore.
  • Taxonomy.  Scientific classification, nomenclature and identification


Niche (3)  53631 (19)

Photos from a Taxonomy Class

53631 (17)  53631 (13)

Photos from a Botany Class

53631 (24) - Copy  53631 (25) - Copy

Photos from a Soils Class at Mutton Hunk Fen NAP

Muttonhunk Sign  53631 (66)

Photos from a Coastal Ecology Class

53631 (46)  53631 (44)

Ornithology:  Did you know



If this sounds like something you’d like to do, enroll in our next class.