The Virginia Master Naturalist program — a statewide volunteer training and service program providing education, outreach, and service to better manage natural resources and natural areas in Virginia — welcomes the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s Center for Coastal Resources Management as its newest sponsoring agency.

Based in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, the Virginia Master Naturalist program started in 2005 with financial support from five sponsoring agencies: Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Museum of Natural History, and the state departments of Conservation and Recreation, Game and Inland Fisheries, and Forestry. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality was added as a sponsoring agency in 2010. Program volunteers actively were engaged in that department’s Citizen Water Quality Monitoring Program, a collaboration that has strengthened over time.

“We are excited to have the Center for Coastal Resources Management join our growing network of sponsoring agencies and partnering organizations around the state,” said Alycia Crall, statewide coordinator for the Virginia Master Naturalist program. “With a rapidly growing program, we continue to look for ways to diversify our funding support. The center’s contribution will further support that growth and advance the mission of our program, as well as that of the center throughout the commonwealth.”

The Center for Coastal Resources Management develops and supports integrated and adaptive management of coastal zone resources. To fulfill this mission, the center undertakes research, provides advisory service, and conducts outreach education, including Master Naturalist training courses for coastal and estuarine ecology and management in collaboration with other Virginia Institute of Marine Science departments.

“Supporting the Virginia Master Naturalist program is a logical extension of our outreach efforts,” added Center Director Carl Hershner Jr. “There is a growing need for educated citizens to support various local and state government initiatives aimed at restoring the Chesapeake Bay and adapting to climate change. These volunteers are well positioned to serve the commonwealth in these roles, and we look forward to helping make that happen.”

Karen Duhring, the center’s outreach and training coordinator, will represent the agency on the Virginia Master Naturalist program’s steering and executive committees. “The annual Virginia Institute of Marine Science training classes for Master Naturalists have been well received and are a pleasure for us to conduct,” she said. “Expanding our relationship as a sponsoring agency will allow us to connect the program to more continuing education courses and opportunities. We are also willing to assist any chapter interested in developing citizen science programs related to coastal and wetland issues.”



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