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Peninsula Chapter - Virginia Master Naturalist

Virginia Master Naturalist 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.  The Peninsula Chapter, which serves Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, Gloucester and the lower half of York County, was one of four chapters formed in 2008 under the direction of the program's statewide committees.  The presence of this program on the Peninsula provides a corps of volunteers for the agencies and organizations that manage our local natural resources and provides valuable educational resources to the community.

Becoming a Master Naturalist

People who are curious about nature, enjoy the outdoors, and want to be a part of natural resource management and conservation in Virginia are perfect candidates to become Virginia Master Naturalists.  It is open to all adults regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status.

In order to become a certified Virginia Master Naturalist, volunteers are required to attend a basic training class (a minimum of 40 hours of classroom and field instruction).  After training, volunteers must have additional continuing education credits (a minimum of 8 hours) and provide at least 40 hours of approved volunteer service to the community to become certified.  To find out more on training, visit the website at

Soil Sample Analysis

Soil testing kits are available from your local Cooperative Extension Office.  Upon getting the kit, citizens should prepare the sample according to directions and mail it along with a $10 testing fee to the Soil Testing Lab located on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Response time is approximately two weeks.  You will receive a Soil Test Report with recommendations based on your soil type and plant needs.   For more information, view the Publication "Soil Sampling for the Home Gardener".  If you have any questions regarding the report call your local Extension Agent.  

Soil testing kits may be picked up at the York/Poquoson Cooperative Extension Office located at 100 County Drive, Yorktown, VA.


Engaging with Communities

Virginia Cooperative Extension specialists in community viability work with Extension agents, campus-based faculty, organizational partners, communities, and individuals to further opportunity and build capacity in five program areas:   

Examples of our work include training county elected officials, educating entrepreneurs, facilitating collaborative projects, supporting the growth of community food systems and local economies, enhancing agent skills and community capacity in facilitation and leadership, conducting problem-driven research, and creating publications and tools that address critical community needs.

Do you have a question about Community Viability?

Perhaps one of the Community Viability specialists below can help you. Contact a Community Viability specialist or direct a question to them using our Ask an Expert system.

Community Viability Specialists

See a list of our Community Viability Specialists

Junior 4-H Summer Camp is a week-long, residential summer camp program available to residents of York County and the city of Poquoson ages 9-13.  Teens 14 years of age can serve as Counselors-in-Training (CIT) during camp and teens ages 15-18 can serve as Teen Camp Counselors (see below for camp age policies and CIT/Counselor information). Camp is held every year at the Jamestown 4-H Educational Center in Williamsburg, VA.

Please note that the York/Poquoson Extension Office is in charge of planning for and processing registration for our week of 4-H Summer Camp. Jamestown 4-H Center is just the facility we use during the week for camp programming. Registration and/or questions regarding York/Poquoson’s 4-H Summer Camp should be directed to the York/Poquoson Extension office at 757-890-4940, not the Jamestown 4-H Center.

4-H camp provides youth countless opportunities for learning more about themselves, their peers, and the natural world around them. Days are filled with camp classes, unstructured recreation and swim time, flag ceremonies, evening programs, and campfires. Our main focus during camp is to help youth develop independence, self-esteem, confidence, interpersonal skills, and other life skills.

View a typical AGENDA for the week of camp:  Please note, that the agenda varies from year to year and the exact agenda during this year’s camp may be different from the sample agenda provided.

The classes and evening activities offered at camp vary from year to year as well. Example classes include: swimming, water polo, archery, air rifle, canoeing, kayaking, low ropes course, robotics, videography, sailing, art and crafts, outdoor living skills, and marine science.  Youth will select the classes that they are most interested in on the first day of camp. Evening activities may include outdoor games, carnival games, a pool party, a dance, a talent show, movies, etc. We try to make sure there is something for everyone at camp!

The cost to attend camp for 2018 is $290.00 per camper. A $85.00 deposit is due within 2 weeks of the date you register. The remaining camp balance is due on June 22nd, 2018.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Any cancellations made prior to May 1, 2018 will result in a refund of payments made minus a processing fee of 5% of the $85 deposit. ($4.25)

Any cancellations made after May 1, 2018 but prior to June 22, 2018, will result in a refund of all but the $85 deposit and a processing fee of 5% of the full cost of camp.  ($99.50)

Any cancellations made after June 22, 2018, WILL NOT be refunded unless accompanied by a letter from a physcian, or a documented family emergency.  In the case of a documented reason, all but the $85 deposit and a processing fee of 5% of the full cost of camp will be refunded. ($99.50) 

Financial Assistance
Financial Assistance in the amount of a 75%, 50%, or 25% discount on camp fees is available to youth with financial need. Guidelines for financial assistance eligibility are based on the USDA’s eligibility guidelines for free and reduced school lunches; however, we do also consider extenuating circumstances in our financial assistance if necessary.  If you plan to apply for financial assistance, you should still register online like everyone else. Everyone, regardless of if they receive financial assistance or not, is required to register online and pay the $50.00 deposit. Once you complete the online registration process, you should mail your financial assistance application in with your $50.00 deposit. Once your application is received, you will be notified of any financial assistance you will receive. At that time, you can choose to accept the financial assistance and keep your child enrolled in camp (any remaining balances will be due by the regular camp fee due date) or cancel your child’s enrollment and receive a refund of your deposit.

Financial Assistance application.

Camp Age Policy
A camper is any youth that is 9-13 years old, a Counselor-in-Training (CIT) must be at least 14 by September 30, 2018, and a Teen Camp Counselor must be at least 15 by September 30, 2018.

  • A child that will turn nine before September 30, 2018 can attend camp as a camper (Thus, some 8 year olds can attend camp, as long a they will turn nine before September 30, 2018)
  • Youth that are 13 between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018 must attend camp as a camper.  They canot serve as a CIT.
  • Teens that will be 14 between  October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018 can apply to serve as a CIT.
  • Teens that will turn 15 between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018 can apply to serve as a Teen Camp Counselor.
  • Teens that turn 19 after September 30, 2018, cannot attend camp as a Teen Camp Counselor.


Please read the registration instructions carefully.

Registration for campers will open at 8:00 am on February 1st, 2018. Registration will only be collected through our online format. If you do not have access to a computer or the internet and as a result cannot complete online registration, please contact our office (757-890-4940) before registration opens.

Youth that have already been selected as CITs and/or Teen Camp Counselors (applications were due in November) do NOT have to register online through this system.

In order to register, you must click on the registration link below (one link to register a female camper, one link to register a male camper) and complete the online registration form. You can register up to 4 youth of the same gender at once. For example, if you have two sons you will be able to select 2 spots when you register. If you have two sons and one daughter, you will have to register your 2 sons together using the Male Camper link, and then register your daughter separately using the Female Camper link. Once you have submitted the registration, you will receive a confirmation email.

We cannot accept payment online. Once you receive your confirmation email you must mail in or drop off a $85.00 deposit (or the whole $290.00 camp fee if you choose) per camper. You may mail payment to:

Attention: Camp Registration
PO Box 532
Yorktown, VA 23690

Or you may bring the deposit into our office at: 100 County Drive, Yorktown, VA 23692.

We can accept cash or checks made out to VCE: York. Please put your camper's name in the memo line of all checks or attach a note with your camper's name to any cash payments. Deposits must be received within 2 weeks of your registration date or your spot in camp will be given to someone on the waitlist. You are not fully registered until we receive your deposit. The remaining camp fee balance will be due on June 22nd, 2018.

If camp spots are already full when you go to register, you will be prompted to “add your name to the waitlist”. This will put your child/children’s name(s) on our waitlist and we will contact you by phone and email if and when a spot opens up. If you add your name to the waitlist, you do NOT need to mail in a deposit. Your deposit will be due if a camp spot opens up for your child. York/Poquoson 4-H Camp fills very quickly. It is possible that you will be prompted to add your name to the waitlist within minutes of the time camp registration opens.

View a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding camp registration.

Camp is Full!  You can add your child to the waitlist below:

To add a Male Camper

To add a Female Camper

For questions regarding camp registration, please call our office at 757-890-4940.

Adult Volunteers Needed for 4-H Summer Camp

Every year, we need approximately four male and seven female Adult Volunteers during camp. Adult Volunteers help us provide a safe, supportive, and fun environment for our campers. Serving as an Adult Volunteer is an incredibly rewarding and fun experience. Adult volunteers serve as "caring adults" for the campers, and have the opportunity to experience many of the camp classes and activities. During the week, Adult Volunteers assist with classes and activities as needed, but mostly serve as adult chaperones and role models.

Adult Volunteers that stay all 4 nights of camp receive a discount on the camp fee for their children.

Adults interested in volunteering must: 1) Complete Adult Volunteer Application (Volunteer positions are filled on a first-come-first-serve basis.); 2) Submit to and pass a background check; and 3) Attend an in-person interview. Volunteers will be selected based on application, reference checks, an approved background check, and the interview.

Adult Volunteers must be 19 years of age by October 1, 2018. They must also attend at least two hours of training with the 4-H Agent and a Saturday training session at the 4-H Center prior to camp.

To inquire about serving as an Adult Volunteer for Junior 4-H Camp please call our office at 757-890-4940 or email


Jamestown 4-H Center

What is a 4-H Club?

4-H Clubs provide safe-environments for youth to explore topics of interest to them in partnership with caring adult volunteer leaders. Being a member of a 4-H Club offers youth countless opportunities to develop leadership and life skills.

There are several different formats that a 4-H Club may take:

  • 4-H In-School Clubs (for ages 9-18) take place during school time and are often led by teachers or parent volunteers
  • 4-H Afterschool Clubs (for ages 9-18) take place in schools or community centers during “afterschool programming time” and are often led by parent volunteers or staff members of an afterschool provider
  • 4-H Project Clubs (for ages 9-18) are led by adult volunteer leaders and all members in the club focus on the same project/topic area (examples include: archery clubs, robotics clubs, equine science clubs, photography clubs, etc.)
  • 4-H Community Clubs (for ages 9-18) are led by adult volunteer leaders that carry out a planned program throughout the year; however, club members choose individual projects/topic areas of interest to them to explore in-depth
  • 4-H Cloverbud Clubs are led by adult volunteer leaders and are made up of youth ages 5-8. These clubs meet year round and explore a variety of topics, providing club members with a breadth of 4-H experiences. Cloverbud clubs do not elect officers.

Regardless of the delivery mode, all 4-H Clubs are led by adult volunteer leaders, have a planned program throughout the year (or the majority of the year), elect officers, conduct regular meetings, and participate in community service and other 4-H activities.

In addition to the year-round club formats mentioned above, 4-H Special Interest (or SPIN) Clubs can also be formed. SPIN Clubs focus on a specific topic for a shorter period of time (at least 6 lessons/contact hours). Examples may include: a LEGO robotics club that meets once a week for six weeks, a gardening club that meets every other week in the summer, etc. These clubs are led by adult volunteer leaders, but do not elect officers or conduct regular business meetings. SPIN Clubs are a great way to generate interest in a particular topic or provide youth with exposure to a new, exciting topic. 

How to Start a 4-H Club

All that is needed to start a 4-H Club is at least two adults willing to serve as volunteer club leaders and at least 5 youth club members. Volunteer leaders must complete an application, interview, reference checks, and a background check, and will receive training in 4-H program delivery. Club members must enroll in the club through our online enrollment system 4-H Online. The Extension 4-H Agent will provide club leaders with curriculum resources, project books, and additional training on various topics as needed. Once established, the club will elect officers, create a constitution and bylaws, and receive a club charter from the State 4-H office.

There are unlimited possibilities for club and/or individual member areas of interest:

  • Animal Science – livestock, horse, pets, veterinary science, poultry
  • Career Exploration
  • Environmental Education and/or Outdoor Recreation
  • Leadership Development
  • Family and Consumer Sciences – sewing, child care, family life, financial literacy
  • Communications – public speaking, presentations
  • Art – photography, painting, arts and crafts, theater
  • Foods, Nutrition, and Health – cooking, healthy living, personal safety, first aid/CPR
  • Science, Engineering, and Technology – robotics, aeronautics, rocketry, maker, computer programming, woodworking, invention
  • Horticulture  and Agriculture – gardening, beekeeping

Contact the Extension Office today to start your own 4-H Club – 757-890-4940!

Existing 4-H Clubs in York County/Poquoson

For more information or to join any of these clubs, please contact the Extension Office at 757-890-4940.

Patriot Shooting Education Club – Youth ages 9-18 learn safety, discipline, leadership, and life skills through the use of shooting education. Members practice shooting air rifles and can participate in local, state, and national shooting competitions.

Ravine Rangers Environmental Education Club – Youth ages 9-18 participate in monthly club meetings in which they explore different environmental topics and go on adventures in the great outdoors.

4-H Peer Teacher Program

Teens can learn to be a historical interpreter! The 4-H Peer Teacher Program is operated in conjunction with the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. It provides countless opportunities for teens to gain skills in public speaking and presentations and interacting with diverse people. Participants may also gain skills in  certain trade demonstrated at one of the five interpretive sites.

Teens ages 13-16 that are residents of York County, James City County, and Gloucester County are eligible to participate in this program. Eligible teens must turn in an application and complete an in-person interview. Selected youth will attend two days of orientation, and will then be assigned to one of five interpretive sites (based on their preferences) for training. Sites include:

• At the Jamestown Settlement: Powhatan Indian Village, Ships, and James Fort
• At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown: Military Encampment and 1780's Farm

Once assigned, youth will spend five days training alongside a costumed interpreter to master one position within their site. Upon completion of the training sessions and successful mastery of the position, youth MAY be asked to continue volunteering for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation as a costumed interpreter. They would be expected to volunteer at least 8 hours per month during the school year and 16 hours per month during the following summer. 

Applications are Due March 31, 2018.

4-H Opportunities at the District, State, and National Level

One of the greatest benefits of being a 4-H member is the access it provides you to a wealth of events and activities at the district, state, and national level that help youth develop leadership, citizenship, and life skills.

District Contests– Youth (ages 9-18) from throughout the Southeast District gather to demonstrate their talents and practice public speaking and  presentation skills. Contests include presentation, public speaking, talent, fashion, and art.

  • Presentations: A presentation can be a demonstration or an illustrated talk.  It is a way to show others how to do something or to teach others more about a subject. Depending on age, presentation times vary from 2-15 minutes.
  • Science Presentation: Teams of 3 – 8 will present on a current problem that researchers, scientists, or engineers are currently using science to address. Teams will also create their own innovative solution to address the problem.
  • Public Speaking: A speech about a topic that the member wants to share.  Visual aids are not used.  Depending on age, presentation times vary from 3-7 minutes.
  • Share-The-Fun: Share-the-Fun encourages youth to discover and develop their talents and to develop confidence in performing before an audience.  Acts may consist of one to four individual.  Time limit is 4 minutes per act.  Categories are: Vocal, Instrumental, Dance, Drama, Variety, Combination
  • Fashion Revue: This event helps youth develop decision-making skills in making or purchasing apparel based on individual resources and needs. Category 1: Constructed garments Category 2: Purchased garments
  • Visual Art Contest: Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Drawing, Mixed Media or Fiber including a narrative written by the member.


4-H State Congress - Held every year on the Virginia Tech campus, high school students develop leadership abilities through participation in workshops, college tours, competitions, and recreational activities. State Congress is usually held in June.

Intermediate 4-H Congress - Held every year on the Virginia State University campus, middle school students develop leadership skills through fun and interactive workshops, demonstrations, and recreational programs. Intermediate Congress is usually held in July.

4-H Day at the Capital - Designed to enhance knowledge of governmental procedures, teens visit with legislators, observe the legislative process in action, and tour the Capital. Day at the Capital is typically held in February.

Teen Excellence in Leadership Institute - A multi-event experience held throughout the year in which teens develop a personalized action plan for engaged leadership and design a team project to address needs in their communities. Teens must apply to the program and applications are usually due in September.

State 4-H Cabinet - Comprised of elected teen officers from throughout the state, cabinet members plan state-wide 4-H programs and advocate for 4-H with elected officials.

4-H All-Stars - 4-H All Stars is an honor/service organization. Membership in 4-H All Stars is the highest recognition that a Virginia 4-H'er can achieve. Virginia 4-H All Stars is service oriented, and volunteer operated. The All Star's goal is to contribute to positive youth development through "service" to the 4-H program of which they are a part.

Specialty 4-H Camps -  The six 4-H Educational Centers in VA offer day and overnight camps to youth throughout the state all year long. Camps include Cloverbud, Teen Weekends, Science, Horse, Shooting Education, Marine Science, and more!

State 4-H Website

Citizenship Washington Focus -  A week-long citizenship program for high school students that takes place at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Washington D.C.

Leadership Washington Focus - A week-long leadership program for middle school students that takes place at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Washington, D.C.

National 4-H Congress - Held in Atlanta, GA, National Congress provides teens a week of leadership workshops, service learning projects, motivational and keynote speakers, and fun recreational programs. Outstanding 4-H members are selected to represent Virginia at National 4-H Congress. Candidates for selection must be senior 4-H members in the current 4-H year who are able to demonstrate outstanding achievement as a 4-H member in the areas of leadership, citizenship, and personal development.

National 4-H Conference - A week-long civic engagement program in Washington D.C. in which delegates choose an important societal topic and present a briefing on the topic to officials in Washington D.C.

4-H Upcoming Events

  • Junior 4-H Summer Camp
    • Ages 9-13
    • July 30 - August 3, 2018
    • Camp is Full!
  • District Contests 
    • March 19, 9:30 am-1:30 pm, New Kent County Middle School
    • Register by March 1st , $5 registration fee collected day of the contests
    • Ages 9-18
    • Gain presentation and public speaking skills and win prizes
  • 4-H Archery Camp
    • February 24-26
    • Ages 9-13
    • Jamestown 4-H Educational Center
  • Spring Cloverbud Camp
    • March 4-5
    • Ages 5-8
    • Jamestown 4-H Educational Center
  • Spring Break 4-H Camp 
    • April 3-6
    • Ages 9-13
    • Jamestown 4-H Educational Center
  • Women’s Wellness Weekend
    • May 5-7
    • Women ages 18 and over
    • Jamestown 4-H Educational Center
  • 4-H Peer Teacher Program
    • Ages 13-16
    • Applications Due March 15th
    • Spend the summer training to become a costumed interpreter with the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation
  • 4-H State Congress
    • June 19-22, 2017
    • Virginia Tech Campus
    • Ages 14-18
    • Please call our office to register, 757-890-4940    

National 4-H Website

Welcome to the York-Poquoson Master Gardener Help Desk

Yorktown Onion

Yorktown Onion

Collecting Samples
Insects must be dead before they are brought to the VCE Office. The insects may be submitted in the following ways: placed in rubbing alcohol, drowned in water, frozen (at least a week) or suffocated in a zip-lock bag. Soft insects such as grubs may be placed in boiling water for 1 minute then placed in rubbing alcohol. Insects should be placed in a sealed plastic bag or container prior to bringing to the office. The insects should not be crushed. Provide information pertaining to infestation location and number of insects observed. 
Close-up pictures are helpful.
Plant Disease:
Plant samples should include living examples of leaf, stem, limb, and roots showing disease symptoms (all dead=no results). Place specimens in a sealed plastic bag. Collect soil with live roots from the plant (sandwich baggie full). Bring the whole plant, if practical. Include pictures of plant and parts, if possible. 
Plant or Weed Identification:
Whole plants, stems, leaves, and pictures are helpful. Place in plastic bag. (Do not include moist paper towels - increases fungal growth and rot of plant sample before analysis)

Specimens may be dropped off at the VCE Office. Place specimens and Client Form in the Green Box at the front desk. Ensure that your name is on each specimen.

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VCE Master Gardener Volunteers can answer your horticultural and environmental questions year round. Citizens can contact the Extension

Horticulture Help Desk:
Phone: 757-890-4940
Visit the office Monday–Friday, 8:15am - 5:00pm
Help Desk Hours:
Monday - Wednesday 9am-12pm

Facebook: York-Poquoson Master-Gardener

Virginia Cooperative Extension
York/Poquoson Office
100 County Drive
Yorktown, VA 23690

VCE Master Gardener Volunteers can assist in diagnosing disease
or insect problem, advice on lawn and plant care, identify plants and
weeds, and provide other Virginia Tech VCE research–based information
and publications relating to landscape and gardening issues.

Submitting a sample of a plant or insect to identify or diagnose a
disease is the best practice for researching the answer. The Help Desk
MG Volunteers can also assist you by submitting the samples to the
Virginia Tech Clinics. Specimens may be submitted on Monday through
Wednesdays.  Note the general collecting instructions in the left column
or contact the volunteers at the office.

If possible, please complete the Help Desk on-line form below and bring
with you when you visit.  This will allow you to investigate many of the
questions the volunteers will explore with you.

Insect ID Form 

Plant Diagnosis Form