The Virginia Master Naturalist Program, a multi-agency initiative based in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, received a 2011 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award

The annual awards program recognizes the significant contributions of environmental and conservation leaders across the commonwealth.

“We are very proud of the Virginians in these private, nonprofit, and government entities who have demonstrated the innovation and dedication to improve our environment and make the lives of their fellow Virginians better,” Gov. Bob McDonnell remarked about all of the award recipients.

The program was selected as a Gold Medal winner in the government environmental programs category. Award recipients are chosen based on criteria including environmental benefit, stakeholder involvement, public outreach, transferability, and innovativeness.

The mission of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program is to train a statewide corps of volunteers to provide education, outreach, and services to benefit Virginia’s natural resources. With 30 program chapters across the state and more than 1,000 active volunteers, the program is a rapidly growing force through which volunteers broaden their own knowledge about Virginia’s natural resources while benefitting their communities and the environment. Volunteers have reached more than 130,000 people through educational programs for parks, community groups, festivals, and schools.

“Virginia Master Naturalist volunteers are active statewide, and natural resource agencies and organizations are turning to these volunteers for help with many of their initiatives,” said Michelle Prysby, program coordinator. “Educating others about natural resources is one of the most important things the volunteers do.”

The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is a partnership among Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Museum of Natural History, and the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.



Written by Wes Maxey of Collinsville, Va., a junior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

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