NovaSci VMN Article

Cover Photo: FMN Jerry Nissley

Virginia Master Naturalists (VMN) attended a community event at the Kincora complex in Dulles on March 23rd 2023 to preview final plans for the Northern Virginia Science Center (NovaSci) project. 

FMN was then asked to contribute to the inaugural Northern Virginia Science Center’s newsletter to be published in the May 2023 timeframe to present an overview of  VMN / FMN.

The Virginia Master Naturalist (VMN) program is a community-based natural resources volunteer program. Virginia Master Naturalists are volunteer educators, citizen scientists, and stewards helping Virginia conserve and manage natural resources and public lands. The VMN program provides opportunities for people to learn about nature and become active resource stewards, citizen scientists, and educators. As of 2022, VMN is composed of 30 semi-autonomous, locally focused chapters. VMNs train for certification& then maintain that certification by participating in local projects as they sojourn through forests and fields, collect data in streams, beaches, and backyards – all the while continuing to learn and share our enthusiasm for Virginia’s bountiful and beautiful habitats. John Muir mused, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” So it is with a Virginia Master Naturalist.

VMN has four chapters surrounding the Northern Virginia science community – Arlington Regional chapter, Banshee Reeks chapter in Loudoun, Merrimac Farm Chapter in Prince William, and Fairfax Chapter centered in Fairfax County and Alexandria. Because of our shared mission and proximity, chapters frequently collaborate on projects that touch our borders.

To exemplify what a chapter does let us peek inside the Fairfax Chapter (FMN) – of which I am a member. We recruit, develop, and enable our members so they may contribute to natural resource and conservation projects tailored to our local community. Projects range from invasive plant management and litter cleanups to a myriad of educational and citizen science projects. We lead interpretive nature walks, educational programs, kayak tours, and advise homeowners on native plant landscaping to name a few.

When we are engaged in our personal endeavor in field, forest, mountain, river, wetland, or garden sanctuary we must bathe in the presence of wonder, keep close to Nature’s heart, and work hard not only with tools but with our imagination. Imagination that is evident in the vision of the NovaSci Center Foundation. For, “In the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” – William Blake.

FMN Citizen Science examples: