Do you know what it takes to be an environmental educator in the state of Virginia? Neither do I! But thanks to a dedicated group of individuals from across the state, it will soon be crystal clear.

In 2017, I joined the Virginia Association of Environmental Educators (VAEE). In the past, I have taught 3rd grade (formal classroom teaching) and now I am fortunate enough to work with multiple grade levels as a non-formal educator for the Alliance. A subset of VAEE’s members, including myself, called the Certification Advisory Board (CAB) are working to create an environmental education (EE) certification program. People in the EE field come to the field in wide variety of ways with differing amounts of experience in teaching and studies. A certification program would provide a training path for anyone interested in becoming an environmental educator. It would fully prepare individuals to deliver high quality, effective EE programs and distinguish them as highly trained professionals in their field. The CAB hopes the program created will be accredited by the North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE). If Virginia is successful in achieving national accreditation, it will be only the 4th state in the United States to do so!  

On July 20th and 21st, the nine members of CAB from all across Virginia, convened at Claytor Nature Center near Bedford, VA to develop the criteria and content of the program. Members of the CAB will also serve as the first “cohort” to complete the certification program (approximately 150 hours over 3 years) in order to allow them to experience the process and evaluate it for the next group. The program is robust and requires participants to complete an online section, attend training workshops, explore the regions of Virginia, apply what they have learned to their teaching, take an assessment test, and turn in a capstone project.  

If you think you have what it takes to be an environmental educator in Virginia, please visit,