Vermont Master Naturalist
Winooski Headwaters Chapter


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

**Now accepting applications for our 2021 cohort**

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. Participants must reside in Montpelier, Middlesex, Worcester, Calais, East Montpelier, Marshfield, or Plainfield.

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 in 2021 from 9 am - 3:30 pm, plus additional project service hours. Trainings will be:
4/24/2021 - Geology & Topography
5/15/2021 - Soils & Botany
6/19/2021 - Wetlands & Watersheds
9/11/2021 - Land Use History & Forest Forensics
12/11/2021 - Winter Ecology & Wildlife Tracking


Candidates must reside or work in the Winooski River Watershed: Montpelier, East Montpelier, Middlesex, Plainfield, Marshfield, Cabot, Calais, Worcester, Berlin. Outside candidates may be considered if there is no local VMN chapter serving their town. 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 $495 due upon acceptance in the program, or on a schedule arranged between VMN and the participant. Applications accepted beginning November 1, 2020 until filled.

Scholarship 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. Participants will be required to wear masks while in a group, and maintain adequate distancing. Cohort size will be restricted to facilitate easy teaching, learning, and exploring the woods at a 6' distance. See North Branch Nature Center's homepage for additional info about COVID-19 Program Adaptations and Expectations.

VMN Resources

  • Details and Training Syllabus

  • Program Application

    Applications for our '19-20 cohort accepted Aug 1 - Oct 1, 2019

  • 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, where it is currently training its fourth cohort of master naturalists.  As of  2019, VMN now operates in nine towns in the Champlain Valley and Winooski watershed. This  season, NBNC welcomes VMN to the Montpelier region again to train its second 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
[email protected]

Office Open Monday-Friday from 9 am to 4 pm
Trails Open 24/7