Also included in the contributions was a generous donation from the Riverine Chapter. In hopes of inspiring other chapters to do the same, they sent the following article, written by VMN volunteer Suzanne Hedderly.
A Circle of Giving
The Virginia Master Naturalist program is celebrating its 10th year! A lot has been accomplished over the past decade through a wonderful corp of trained volunteers who go out into communities across the Commonwealth to share their knowledge with schools, clubs, and individuals, instilling respect and a sense of stewardship for Virginia’s natural resources.
The Virginia Master Naturalist program is supported by Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the Virginia Museum of Natural History. The program is based within the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech. The state organization coordinates the 30 different Virginia Chapters that have provided over a half-million hours of volunteer service, citizen science projects, and outreach education.
Unfortunately, budget cuts have affected funding for our guiding state organization. But just as a seed planted in nature grows into a beautiful plant, the seed of an idea sprouted—a proposal to make a donation to the Virginia Tech Foundation in support of the VMN program! The proposal offered to take a portion of the Riverine Chapter budget and make a donation to the State organization that has given so much to establish and provide for the Virginia Master Naturalist Program.
The proposal was discussed at the Riverine Board meeting and passed! As one Riverine member, Emily Gianfortoni stated, “I voted for the Riverine Chapter to make a contribution to the VMN State Coordinator Fund to ensure that the State Program and the support it gives to our local chapters continues in the future. One of our projects that has had the greatest impact, I believe, is our Outreach/Education booth at local fairs, community events and farmers markets. We have reached adults and children, answered questions about wildlife, talked about habitat improvement and pollinators, and exchanged ideas about other environmental issues. People have been interested and receptive, and I believe we are changing minds about how to manage yards and landscapes one person at a time. The VMN Program has connected me with a wonderful group of fellow volunteers whom I otherwise never may have met.”
The Master Naturalist Program touches thousands of people and raises awareness in countless areas promoting a healthy, thriving natural environment for all Virginians. Through giving back to the organization that has provided so much to all our VMN Chapters with support, training and guidance, we can form a Circle of Giving and insure the continued success of the VMN mission into the future.
We hope that all chapters throughout the Commonwealth with consider a similar donation in support of the statewide program!
The 2015 Virginia Master Naturalist annual campaign is still ongoing! Please consider making a donation as an individual, a chapter, or even a local partnering organization at http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/give.html.