Volunteer with Virginia Cooperative Extension

Master Gardeners at a workshop

In 2013, Virginia Cooperative Extension engaged almost 30,000 volunteers who provided more than 966,000 hours of volunteer service in the commonwealth. Extension offers several master volunteer programs that provide training opportunities in gardening and horticulture; food, nutrition, and safety; natural resources management; water supply systems; financial management; and energy conservation. More than 13,000 adult and youth volunteers served more than 185,000 youth ages 5 to 18 in hands-on educational programs designed to build leadership, citizenship, and life skills through Virginia 4-H. Each local Extension unit has unique volunteer opportunities.

"The tremendous difference Virginia Cooperative Extension has made in the lives of Virginians over the past 100 years has been due in large measure to the contributions of the many dedicated and tireless volunteers," said Edwin Jones, director of Virginia Cooperative Extension.

There are many ways you can get involved with us. Some of them are listed below. If you would like specific information on a particular volunteer opportunity, please contact the person listed. If you are interested in volunteering, but not sure in what way, contact your local Extension office. They will be happy to help you find a way to share your time and talents.

Virginia Master Gardeners are volunteer educators who work within their communities to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices through sustainable landscape management education and training. If you have an interest in horticulture and like teaching and talking to the public, contact your local Extension office and ask about the Master Gardener program.

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The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. Interested Virginians become Master Naturalists through training and volunteer service. If you are interested in becoming a Master Naturalist, contact your local Extension office.

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The VAMWON consists of Virginia Cooperative Extension agents and volunteers trained in the proper design, management, and maintenance of private water supply systems (springs, wells, and cisterns). They organize and conduct county-based drinking water clinics and serve as a local resource for clientele with household water quality concerns. If you are interested in becoming part of the VAMWON, apply online.

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Master Food Volunteers help support Extension's family and consumer sciences agents through education and outreach efforts. These volunteers are involved in programs related to food preparation, nutrition, food safety, and physical activity. If you have an interest in becoming a Master Food Volunteer, contact Melissa Chase, state coordinator for the Master Food Volunteer Program, mechase@vt.edu.

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Virginia Cooperative Extension's Family Nutrition Program helps limited-resource families and children develop the knowledge and skills necessary to make healthier lifestyle choices on a limited budget. 

For more information on volunteer opportunities with FNP, contact the agent nearest to you

Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson, Buchanan, Russell, Washington, Tazewell, Smyth, Grayson, Wythe, Bland, and Pulaski counties 
Sharon Rice - 276-628-9266 strice@vt.edu 

Carroll, Patrick, Floyd, Montgomery, Roanoke, Giles, Craig, Franklin, and Bedford counties 
Tonya Pickett - 540-238-8195, 540-444-2946 tpickett@vt.edu 

Henry, Pittsylvania, Halifax counties 
Alani Adkins - Danville, 434-766-6761 alaniadk@vt.edu 

Botetourt, Alleghany, Rockbridge, Bath, and Highland counties 
Rebecca Wilder - 540-463-4734 rmarlatt@vt.edu 

Nelson, Augusta, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Rockingham, Greene, Madison, Orange, Culpeper, Rappahannock, Page, Shenandoah, Warren, Fauquier, Frederick, and Clarke counties 
Morgan Bender - 540-245-5750 bmorgan1@vt.edu 

Amherst, Campbell, Appomattox, Charlotte, Prince Edward, Buckingham, Cumberland, Amelia, Nottoway, Lunenburg counties 
Pauline Stokes - 434-392-4246 pstokes@vt.edu 

Mecklenburg, Greensville, and Brunswick counties 
Kimberly Martin, 434-848-2151 kimartin@vt.edu 

Louisa, Hanover, Goochland, Powhatan, Chesterfield, Henrico, New Kent, Charles City, Prince George, Dinwiddie, and James City counties 
Ann Vargo - 804-433-2556 avargo@vt.edu 

Sussex, Southampton, Surry, Isle of Wight, and York counties, and Cities of Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, and Poquoson 
Karla Robbins - 757-365-6257 karlrobb@vt.edu 

Westmoreland, Northumberland, Richmond, Essex, King and Queen, Lancaster, Middlesex, King William, Mathews, and Gloucester counties 
Kelly Lewis - 804-580-5694 ksuth3@vt.edu 

Caroline, Spotsylvania, King George, Stafford, and Prince William counties 
Katrida Williams - 540-658-8000 katridaw@vt.edu 

Loudoun, Fairfax, and Arlington counties and the City of Alexandria 
Van Do - 703-746-5524 vando@vt.edu 

Accomack and Northampton counties and Cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Chesapeake 
Ellen Pudney, MS, RDN - 757-678-7946 epudney@vt.edu

The Master Financial Education Volunteer program focuses on helping families build their financial capacity through classes on topics such as managing money, planning for home ownership, getting out of debit, retirement planning, and preventing identity theft. The program also provides one-on-one mentoring.

Master Financial Education Volunteers receive a minimum of 20 hours of classroom instruction and, in return, commit to contribute an additional 40 hours of service to the in the 12 months following the training.

Volunteer educators partner with local Extension Agents to provide individual counseling sessions; assist at Reality Store, Kids Marketplace, and poverty simulations; teach money management workshops to youth; and lead adult financial management classes.

Contact:

Karen MundenUnit Coordinator
Senior Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
City of Virginia Beach
757-385-4769, kmunden@vt.edu

Crysti Hopkins,
Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Lousia County
540-967-2111, hcrysti2@vt.edu

4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. 4-H, the largest comprehensive youth development program in the nation, educates young people, ages 5 to 18, through a variety of experiential techniques that encourage hands-on, active learning.

Every 4-H program across Virginia benefits from the dedication and service of volunteers.  If you are interested in contributing your time to help further the growth and development of youth in your community, please contact your local Extension office.  If you are interested in serving 4-H at the state level, please contact Cathy Sutphin, associate director, 4-H youth development, at 540-231-1247, orcmsutph@vt.edu.

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The Virginia Cooperative Extension Leadership Council is an advisory group working at the state level to help guide VCE's direction and priorities. Members of the council represent Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and each of the 22 planning districts in Virginia. Contact: Lonnie Johnson, Senior District Director, at 804-527-4251 or lojohns2@vt.edu.

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Each of VCE's 107 local offices has a leadership council. These groups help keep local programming relevant and responsive to the needs of the community. Representatives bring issues to our attention, and help determine priorities for program efforts. To get involved with your local ELC, contact the Unit Coordinator at your local Extension office.

Local ELC coordinator

Eric Kaufman
ekaufman@vt.edu
540-231-6258

Resources

Virginia Cooperative Extension's volunteers:

  • Educate and engage the public
  • Develop community through social connections
  • Are prepared leaders
  • Serve as knowledgeable and credible resources
  • Advocate for Virginia Cooperative Extension

Opportunities in your community

If you'd like to get involved with Extension in your community, contact your county's local unit office for more information about what's available in your area.

Contact

For more information about Virginia Cooperative Extension’s volunteer efforts, contact:

Jeremy Johnson
Associate Specialist, 
Volunteer Development
540-231-2330
jejohns1@vt.edu