Fall 2019 Basic Training: Applications Now Open

Come learn from local experts who cover topics in biogeography, citizen science, ecology, geology, interpretation, native flora and fauna, weather and climate, and much more.

The Basic Training Course, the first step towards initial certification, offers fun and interactive instruction on our local environment. Becoming certified typically takes 6 to 12 months. The first step is attending all classes and field trips (or making them up), completing the final exam and presenting a service project.

Initial certification, as well as annual recertification, requires 8 hours of continuing education and 40 hours of volunteer service. Basic and continuing education is both educational and useful for preparing participants to volunteer as master naturalists in their communities.

Apply Today – must be postmarked by July 19!


  • Classes run September 5, 2019 – November 21, 2019 on Thursdays, 7:00–10:00 pm.
  • Classes meet at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Pkwy, Fairfax, VA.
  • Field trips to Fairfax County natural areas will be held four Saturdays during the course, 9:00 am–3:00 pm.
  • Attendance at the 12 classes and 4 field trips is mandatory for certification. Up to three classes (or two classes and one field trip) may be made up within 12 months of completion of basic training (e.g., during the next training cycle, with another master naturalist chapter, or by making special arrangements with approval from the Training Committee Chair).
  • Students need internet access because course materials and announcements will be provided online.
  • The program is targeted toward adults, 18 or older. Youth, age 16-17, may apply under specific conditions.
  • Class size is limited to 20 trainees with a maximum of two youth.
  • The course fee of $200 covers basic training and course materials. A limited number of need-based scholarships are available. To request a scholarship, attach a letter to your application stating your need
    and the portion of the course fee that you can pay.

Completed applications, along with a check for $200 made payable to Fairfax Master Naturalists, must be postmarked no later than 19 July 2019.


Basic Training Class Schedule

The 2019 Fall FMN Basic Training classes will be held Thursday evenings from 7 – 10 pm during the dates listed below:

5 September – 21 November

Note that the Saturday Field Trips are:

21 September 2019

5 October 2019

19 October 2019

16 November 2019

These events are reserved for those applicants who are accepted into the FMN program.

Volunteer opportunity: Wildlife program for children at Lorton Church

Photo by Barbara J. Saffir (c)

Victory Temple
7218 Lockport Place, Lorton, VA
Tuesday, 16 July 2019
6-6:45 pm OR 7-7:45 pm

If you love sharing nature with kids, this is for you!

This is a nature program for kids with the theme “In the Wild.”  Your choice – just insects or native insects, reptiles and amphibians.  Hidden Oaks Nature Center (7701 Royce St., Annandale, VA) provides materials, animals and (if desired) script. Project includes transport and set up of materials. Audience will be 30-40 children, grades K-6.

Riverbend fern walk, led by Kit Sheffield

Sunday, June 23
8:30-11:30 a.m.

On this hike in Riverbend Park, Kit will discuss the characteristics that differentiate ferns from other organisms and talk about what to look for when identifying ferns. The group will cover about two miles at a moderate pace on trails that are well maintained but may be muddy if there has been recent flooding. Expect to see and identify fifteen+ species along the way. Learn to identify Christmas fern, to distinguish between cinnamon fern and interrupted fern, what ferns to avoid in your garden, and why scouring rushes are now included in the ferns.

Kit Sheffield is the Membership and IT Coordinator for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) and Vice President of the Fairfax Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists (FMN). With a passion for pteridophytes, he leads fern hikes for PATC, FMN, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the Audubon Naturalist Society.

VNPS programs are free and open to the public.
However, you must register to attend. Please click here to REGISTER.
To CANCEL your registration or ask a QUESTION, please email vnps.pot@gmail.com

Fairfax Food Council Presents: Indoor Gardening, July 16th

Daniels Run Peace Church
3729 Old Lee Hwy., Fairfax, VA 22030
Tuesday, 16 July 2019
7 – 8:30 pm

Ryan Pirault, Founder of Livity Works LLC, will be sharing his techniques, knowledge and experience in this introductory class on “Whole House Permaculture.” Building a culture of permanent agriculture and sustainability is something all of us can participate in even if we live in a tiny cramped apartment. Take this class to learn about growing mushrooms, sprouts, and other healthy food inside your home or apartment. Click here to register.

Native Bees: Why they matter and how to support them, June 22nd

Brambleton Library
22850 Brambleton Plaza, Brambleton, VA
Saturday, 22 June 2019
12 – 2 pm

At this Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy sponsored event, you’ll learn about the many fascinating and bee-utiful native bees that live in our gardens and the plants that support them. You will get a close-up look at Mason and Leafcutter Bees, discuss some simple ways that you can attract native bees in your garden, and help them thrive. Hosted by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, RSVP here.

2019 Fairfax County ESLI Environmental Education Conference, June 22nd

Fairfax County Government Center
12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Saturday, 22 June 2019
9 am – 3 pm

Connect with high school and college students from around Virginia, DC and Maryland to learn about ways you can get involved with environmental education initiatives in your school and community. Learn effective environmental education games and teaching skills that you can use to teach kids in your community, and enjoy a free sustainable meal. This one-day conference will be held on June 22, 2019 and is located at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax, VA. The event is free for students. Contact us at ecoschoolleaders@gmail.com or visit our website at www.eslileaders.org to learn more, and click here to register.

Fairfax Food Council Presents: Gardening with Deer, Squirrels, and Other Hungry Creatures, June 18th

Daniels Run Peace Church
3729 Old Lee Hwy., Fairfax, VA 22030
Tuesday, 18 June 2019
7 – 8:30pm

Are you feeding wildlife instead of the people your garden produce was intended to nourish? You’re invited to hear Adria Bordas give a presentation on preventing deer, squirrels and other creatures from overwhelming your garden. The last half of this workshop will be a roundtable discussion of local gardeners sharing tips and techniques for making your garden a less easy target for birds and four-footed filchers. Click here to register by June 14th.

Rain Barrel Workshop, June 15th

Fairlington Community Center
3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington VA
Saturday, 15 June 2019
10am – 12pm

Rain barrels purchased from retail sources can be expensive. As part of a regional initiative, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District offers build-your-own rain barrel workshops and distributes low-cost rain barrels to Fairfax County citizens. You will learn how to install and maintain a rain barrel and take one home! By installing a rain barrel at your home you will provide your plants with water they will love, save money and water, and protect the Chesapeake Bay! The workshop is free to attend and learn more about rain barrels, and building a rain barrel for you to take home is $55. Learn more about the program and register to attend this workshop.

Stream monitoring and stream clean up events, June 15th, 22nd and 29th

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

Potomac Cleanup at the Long Branch Community Center
8700 Piney Branch Rd., Silver Spring MD
Saturday, 15 June 2019
9 am-12 pm

Join Potomac Conservancy, The Office of Congressman Jamie Raskin, and Montgomery Parks in a stream and park cleanup at the Long Branch Community Center in Silver Spring, MD! They’ll be collecting trash, beautifying the community, and fighting for clean water on a beautiful summer day! Potomac Conservancy will provide trash grabbers, gloves, bags, and all other materials for a successful cleanup. Register here.

Difficult Run Stream Valley Park Monitoring Workshop
Leigh Mill Rd., Great Falls, VA
Saturday, 22 June 2019
10 am-12:30 pm

Join Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) as they discover aquatic life in Difficult Run! This official NVSWCD stream monitoring workshop covers watershed health, what macroinvertebrates tell us about stream quality, and what you can do to prevent pollution in your local stream. This workshop will also help to prepare you to become a certified stream monitor. Registration is limited. Send questions to Ashley Palmer and RSVP here.

Prince William Water Quality Monitoring
Powells Creek, Along 15601 Northgate Dr., Montclair, VA
Saturday, 29 June 2019
10 am-12:30 pm

Join Buck Arvin and the Merrimac Master Naturalist Team in monitoring the Powell’s Creek in the Montclair area. Residents are welcome to come support the data collection of this stream and learn more about the water quality in their local stream.
For directions RSVP to Buck Arvin at buckarvin@comcast.net.