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Virginia Ecotour Guide Certification

Virginia Ecotour Guide LogoTourism is a major driver in Virginia’s economy and ecotourism is especially important in coastal Virginia. Ecotourism connects people to the natural resources that the Virginia CZM Program is striving to protect, and - we hope - instills a strong will to take care of these life-sustaining resources.

The Virginia CZM Program has helped develop and fund several Ecotour Guide certification courses over the years on Virginia's Eastern Shore. In 1992, through the Northampton County SAMP, an initial ecotourism course was developed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Natural Heritage Program. In 2003 the Virginia Institute of Marine Science completed the curriculum and offered the course for the first time. In 2005, VIMS conducted the first Eastern Shore Eco-Tour Instructors Training Course. During 2007-2009 ecotour guide certification and trainers courses were created for use on an ongoing basis at the Eastern Shore Community College. In the spring of 2014, the Virginia Certified Ecotour Course curriculum was expanded to include all of coastal Virginia and made available in an online format. In this way we were able to educate and collaborate with tour operators and outdoor enthusiasts not only from the Eastern Shore, but from the Middle Peninsula, Virginia Peninsula, and even overseas. The program continues to grow in collaboration with the Virginia Tourism Corporation, local coastal planners, community colleges, State Park interpreters, and private stakeholders.

To Learn More, contact:  

The guide certification lasts for three years, after which time the guide must re-certify. Current Virginia Certified Ecotour Guides and their associated businesses are listed below.

2019 Certified Guides (Also Growing Up Wild Certified)

Meriwether Payne, Seaside Ecotours, Eastern Shore

Ray Davis, Captain’s Around the Island Tours, Chincoteague; 757-894-0103

Shannon Alexander, Bay Country Kayaking 855-TO-KAYAK; Williamsburg, Middle Peninsula, Eastern Shore

Adalberto Rodriguez<

Chris Nacy, Big Papa SUP, 757-694-8703, Chincoteague

Dan Davis, Captain Dan Tours, 757-894-0103, Chincoteague

David Denny, Eastern Shore

Edwin Powers, Eastern Shore

Jennifer Elmer, Eastern Shore

Paul Brabazon:  Beach and Bays Tours, Eastern Shore;  757-710-4077 

Pat Brabazon: Beach and Bay Tours, Eastern Shore, VA

Captain Tom Bunino, Onancock Sailing Adventures; 757-710-3658; Eastern Shore

Zachary Mallette, Eastern Shore

Jackie Collins, Bay Country Kayaking, 855-TO-KAYAK; Williamsburg, Middle Peninsula, Eastern Shore

Jim Warwick, Chesapeake Bay Paddling Company, Mathews County

Lori Erwin, Paddle On of Williamsburg

Mark Boikin, Middle Peninsula

Rebecca Wojtach, The Tides Inn, Irvington

Sally Shoemaker,

Tom Finn,

2016 Certified Ecotour Guides

David Lee, Cape Charles Boat & Tour Company

Tony Fleck, Onancock, Eastern Shore

Molly Broderson, Friends of the Dragon Run

Janice Moore, Friends of the Dragon Run    

Katherine Carlton, Essex County Parks and Recreation

Fred Birchett, Essex County Parks and Recreation

For more information about development of the Virginia Ecotour Guide certification program and the Virginia CZM Program’s investment in this effort, please contact Laura McKay,, or 804.698.4323.

Upcoming Courses

2020 Virginia Certified Ecotour Guide Course - Registration Open

Course begins Tuesday January 14th, and will be held 8 consecutive Tuesday evenings ONLINE. It will include a mandatory field trip in late March or April on a weekend day.

Ecotour guides who took the course in 2016 need to take the course again to maintain their certification.

Register Today

Visit the Virginia Ecotour Guide Facebook.

The course is sponsored by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, and is supported by the Rural Coastal Virginia Alliance's partners with the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commissions.

Participants are eligible for 3 CEUs through Rappahannock Community College. Dual certification with Virginia Green is an added benefit -

Virginia Water Trails logo

The 2019 certified Virginia Ecotour Guides can be found at this link.  

Certified guides receive 8-weeks of training covering local ecosystem science, entrepreneurial & customer service skills, interpretation skills, and Virginia-specific land & water use guidance.


Virginia Ecotour Guide Program Video

Watch this just released video on Virginia Ecotour Guide Certification!  

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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