Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lots Going On

 As some may have noticed, my blogging frequency has been a bit inconsistent over the last year. I’ll admit to it, but won’t make any excuses. It’s just the way things go sometimes. While content has been a little slow on the blog, I have been staying active (outside of my day-time job) with various other projects and personal goals – and on that note, I would like to share some of my latest accomplishments over the last year or so.

My latest and current involvement is with the Virginia Master Gardener Program. I’ve always enjoyed and had a love for gardening ever since I was a child working in my dad’s garden. Now, as a Master Gardener, it’s an opportunity to share that joy and knowledge with others in my community.

VCEMGI’m officially half way through the program after completing the 50 hours of classroom training. Interns are required to volunteer an additional 50 hours during their first year before becoming an official certified Master Gardener. It may sound like a lot but the hours are easy when it’s something you enjoy doing, and the volunteer opportunities are endless. I’ve already racked up quite a few hours already and see no issue completing the requirement way ahead of schedule. If interested in learning more about the Master Gardener program visit your local Cooperative Extension office or website.

VMNLOGOtidewaterchapterPrior to entering the Master Gardener class, I completed the a similar curriculum that’s more focused on the natural history of Virginia, known as the Virginia Master Naturalist (VMN) program. As an amateur naturalist looking to learn more, I knew this training was meant for me.

For those unaware, the Master naturalist program is a volunteer program consisting of educators, citizen scientist and stewards helping to conserve and manage its natural resources and public lands. The program is organized into regional chapters that are overseen by statewide committees. My local chapter is the Tidewater Master Naturalist (TMN). The basic training course is tailored to fit its local environment and community, so no two courses are exactly the same.

Similar to the Master Gardener program, the process for becoming certified typically takes 6 to 12 months and requires the completion of classroom training and then completing the required 40 hours of approved volunteer service. If you’re from VA, check out a list of local chapters in your area here.  Most other states offer this program as well.

I signed up for evening classes last spring and leaped in with others that shared the same enthusiasm about nature as I did. My favorite part of the class was the field training. Our class was involved in lots of fun activities like hiking the trails in First Landing State Park.

Hike, First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach, VA

While there, we met up with a group of folks from the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory to witness and learn about their bird banding program.

Yellow-rumped warbler

Another field trip had us birding with local legendary birder Bob Ake in the Great Dismal Swamp.

Great Dismal Swamp, Hiking

I still have more hours to complete prior to certification, but the fun has just begun!

Explore the opportunities in your own community to see if one or both of these programs would be a good fit for you.


Visit us on Facebook:

Suffolk Master Gardener Association:

Tidewater Master Naturalist:


Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Wow Alan you have been very busy!! Good for you. Our Master Naturalist group is a little over an hour away...a bit too far to travel for volunteer and classes on a regular basis. (it branches out from there to further sites for field trips) Bummer. Congrats on the Master Naturalist certification and continued success with the MG class.

Patrick's Garden said...

Glad to have uncovered your beautiful blog via the Queen. I'm a proud EMG graduate but never heard of a MN program. Based on some of your images, I would have to speculate this is because we're not blessed with the richness of the landscapes down here on the prairies. Look forward to seeing more of yours.

Les said...

I am hoping I can get my schedule modified for a future Master Naturalist class. My son and I were out at First Landing on Friday, but not much nature was observed. We were biking from the new visitor's center all the way to Rudee Inlet and back. My butt was sore.

Alan Pulley said...

Janet, maybe a new group will surface nearer to you. I know you would enjoy it!

Patrick, thanks for the kind words and stopping by the blog!! Glad you found it!

Les, hopefully you'll be able to fit it in your schedule in the future. Your son may like the class as well!

Neita said...

Hi! I found your blog through twitter. I'm with the Maryland Master Naturalist program. Like you, I enjoy blogging about my nature observations, especially as part of the program, and have found that all the activities often keep me too busy to write.
I enjoyed your description of the Master Naturalist program.
Looking forward to seeing more of your writing.

Lisa said...

Great informative post!!