What You Learn in Basic Training

The Basic Training Course provides fundamental background knowledge and skills that include:

  • What a naturalist is and does
  • Significance of naturalists and natural history
  • Biogeography of Virginia, including the physiographic regions and their geological and ecological distinctions
  • Ecological concepts, such as forest ecology, aquatic ecology, and urban ecology
  • Basic concepts of geology and soils
  • Fundamental principles of weather and climate
  • Basic resource management principles
  • Native flora and fauna, including botany, dendrology, mammalogy, herpetology, ornithology, entomology, and icthyology
  • Citizen science and research skills
  • Basic education and interpretation skills

The Course includes both field and classroom experiences, with a minimum of 25% of the course time spent in the field. The information shared with trainees is from respected research-based sources.

Adults, standing in marsh, looking through binoculars at something

Something interesting is out there!

By the end of the course, a Virginia Master Naturalist will have learned how to:

  • Use a key to identify organisms
  • Use a field guide
  • Share knowledge with others (verbally and/or in writing)
  • Make and record observations in nature
  • Know how and where to find answers from people, books, or other reliable resources for questions and issues that come up.