Vermont Master Naturalist
Winooski Headwaters Chapter


"Advancing conservation, building community, and connecting Vermonters to the wild heart of place"

Special 2023 Offering:

This unique collaboration between North Branch Nature Center and Vermont Master Naturalist is a place-based, integrated training in interpreting the local landscape and applying that training to the 5th-12th grade classroom and curricula. Each day immerses in a different ecosystem, exploring the pieces, patterns, and processes driving local ecology. We’ll practice field-based activities and classroom-based extensions aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and Proficiency-Based Learning frameworks. Click the button above for more information!

What: Place-based natural history training across the earth, life and social sciences.

VMN participants learn from regional experts to interpret the layers of the local landscape, then apply that integrated training to long-term stewardship and ambassadorship of local natural areas. Master Naturalists become important resources for environmental conservation in our communities and schools.

Who: Local residents with a sustained interest and background in at least one natural history discipline.

Participants are chosen by application process. VMN coordinators work with local conservation organizations and municipalities to build a base of local support and sponsorship for programs, projects, and the participants. Trainings are developed and instructed by NBNC and other visiting experts.

How:  A five-session core training program exploring the processes, events, and characters shaping the Montpelier region.

Candidates will investigate and integrate layers of the physical, environmental, and cultural landscape such as: geology, soils, botany, natural communities, wildlife, human land use history, and natural processes like wind, fire, and succession. Each VMN candidate will also select an extracurricular practice chosen to deepen his or her naturalist skills, including wilderness awareness, sketching, photography, etc. The trainings will explore conservation history and management issues related to each site. See our training syllabus in the sidebar.


Following the core training, teams of candidates are matched with partnering conservation organizations to undertake stewardship and engagement projects of at least 20 hours per person. These teams are arranged and paired with partner organizations by VMN and NBNC. Upon completion, certified Vermont Master Naturalists will continue to support the local community, while receiving continued mentorship in their future naturalist endeavors.


Five Saturdays from 9 am - 3:30 pm, plus additional project service hours. Trainings will be:
April - Geology & Topography
May - Soils & Botany
June - Wetlands & Watersheds
October - Land Use History & Forest Forensics
December - Winter Ecology & Wildlife Tracking


Candidates must reside or work in Central Vermont or within the Winooski River Watershed. Outside candidates will be considered if there is no local VMN chapter serving their region. Candidates must be able to attend all five field sessions. Arrangements can be made in the event of unexpected absences.

Cost and Applications:

One-time enrollment fee of $525 due upon acceptance in the program, or on a schedule arranged between VMN and the participant. Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

Financial Support Opportunities:

Applicants may qualify for scholarship assistance. Details available upon submission of your application. Please contact us at [email protected] for more info.

Professional Development:

This program qualifies for 50 professional development hours or CEUs.


This program is designed to take place entirely outdoors. See North Branch Nature Center's COVID-19 page for our current policies and protocols.

VMN Resources

  • Details and Training Syllabus (2022)

  • Program Application

  • Vermont Master Naturalist Homepage

About the Vermont Master Naturalist Program

Vermont Master Naturalist emphasizes deep investigation at the local level, and training naturalists to serve as environmental ambassadors. VMN began in Burlington in 2016.  As of  2021, VMN has operated in ten towns in the Champlain Valley and Winooski watershed. This  season, NBNC welcomes VMN to the Montpelier region again to train its third cohort.

Alicia Daniel, VMN Executive Director, is a lead faculty with UVM’s distinguished Field Naturalist program, and has adapted this graduate-level Field Naturalist approach for Vermont communities.

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206

Hours: Center Open Monday-Friday 9-4
Trails Open 24/7