“Advancing conservation, building community, and connecting people to the wild heart of place.”

The Vermont Master Naturalist Program will create a team of ten to fifteen naturalists with a sustained interest in at least one natural history discipline who live and/or work in the sponsoring town.  VMN will train these candidates in the area’s natural and cultural history across earth, life and social sciences teaching them to read the local landscapes.  In return, candidates will work as teams on local conservation education and stewardship projects.

The Vermont Master Naturalist Program began in Burlington in 2016 and is now in over 20 towns with 160 members.  After thirty years of teaching in the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist Master of Science Program, Alicia Daniel has adapted her landscape-level ecological approach to benefit Vermont communities and aid their conservation efforts. Alicia, VMN executive director, and other local experts provide training for the candidates.

Who: Ten to fifteen residents with a sustained interest in at least one natural history discipline are chosen to participate via application.

What: Through a series of field trips to key natural areas, VMN candidates will explore the processes that shape a landscape and learn a timescale for the major events that created the landscapes seen in the area today. Candidates will spend time on each site exploring the geology, soils, hydrology, plants and animals, human land use history, disturbance processes, and management concerns. In addition, each VMN candidate will have an outside practice designed to deepen his or her naturalist skills of observation and description.

Why: Developing ecological literacy isn’t just exciting and fun–it’s also an important community resource. A community of naturalists can help solve ecological issues facing our wild lands and serve as resources for conservation education in schools and communities.

When: Field trip dates are five weekend days over a nine month period from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Candidates will also attend 3 or more public walks or other natural history events during the year.

Volunteer Contract:  Upon completion of the 30 hours of training, VMN candidates will work as  teams on projects to engage with schools and/or community members totaling at least 20 hours per person. VMN will work with local conservation organizations and municipalities to build a base of local support and sponsorship for programs and projects. Upon completing the program, Vermont Master Naturalists will continue to serve in an advisory capacity for as long as they choose, will belong to the growing state-wide VMN network and will receive ongoing advice and support for their naturalist practices and activities.

Cost and deadline to apply: The fee for the year-long training is $450, collected after a candidate is accepted into the program. VMN candidates may qualify for a grant from VSAC through their non-degree grant program to assist with program costs.

For more information and application information, email Alicia Daniel at: alicia@vermontmasternaturalist.org

Banner photo by Monica Erhart