Master Naturalists on the Eastern Shore were busy during 2018 identifying butterfly species, helping maintain four Natural Area Preserves and educating children and adults about the area’s wildlife and native plants. The 75 active members of the Eastern Shore Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists volunteered over 8,000 hours during 2018 toward conserving and managing the natural resources of the Virginia Eastern Shore.

Special recognition goes to Bob Toner of Exmore who is a top contributor with the Eastern Shore Master Naturalists program. Originally from Queens, New York, Bob moved to the Eastern Shore in 2006. He completed the course work to become a Master Naturalist in 2010 after learning of the organization from a neighbor and has been a dedicated volunteer ever since. The State Master Naturalist Program honored Bob in 2017 for having the most volunteer hours of any member in the entire state. He gave 1,158 hours of volunteer time to the program that year; an average of over 22 hours a week.

Although Bob’s favorite volunteer job is working at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge’s Visitor Center, he does a wide variety of naturalist work in both Northampton and Accomack Counties. He has a passion for the Barrier Islands and volunteers with the Barrier Island Stewardship Program, teaching boaters to protect nesting birds and posting signs restricting access to nesting areas. From April through August, you can find Bob checking Bluebird boxes at the Nature Conservancy’s Brownsville Preserve. He also works regularly at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge monitoring wildlife and assisting with maintenance. Twice a month Bob is in the Chincoteague area doing water quality testing at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station. Bob especially enjoys working with the summer camps and school groups who visit the Eastern Shore Wildlife Refuge and helping with Nature Day at Kiptopeke State Park. From October through February, Bob also leads Saturday morning tours of Fisherman Island.

Besides volunteering with the Master Naturalists, Bob Toner is an Officer of the Election at the Nassawadox Polling Station where he aids voters in casting ballots. Striving to help get all eligible citizens registered to vote, Bob can be found at voter registration tables at many Eastern Shore festivals. He also recently assisted at Shore High School Voter Registration Events.

Bob Toner contributes much to the quality of life on the Virginia Eastern Shore. He is a people person who loves sharing his knowledge of Eastern Shore nature and history with others. It shows in his smile. Go visit him on Thursdays at the National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.

More information on the Eastern Shore Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists is available at