Michelle Prysby

Virginia Master Naturalist Program Director

Michelle served as the statewide coordinator of the Virginia Master Naturalist program from 2005-2012, returned in 2014 to serve as the Special Projects Coordinator, and became the director of the program in 2015.  

She is an Extension faculty member in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech, but her office is housed in the VCE Charlottesville/Albemarle office. She provides assistance to the state's 29 VMN chapters; teaches basic and continuing education courses; leads development of new training resources and program initiatives; and engages with sponsoring agencies, partnering organizations, and national organizations to support the program's mission.  

Michelle loves working with the amazing cadre of VMN volunteers to benefit Virginia's natural resources. She has a particular interest in citizen science, and, as part of her Master’s research in ecology at the University of Minnesota, she started the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. 

Michelle's other professional roles have included Citizen Science Director at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and Director of Science Education and Public Outreach at the University of Virginia. Outside of work, she enjoys volunteering for frog surveys, hiking, biking, cooking, traveling, and playing old time fiddle. She is also an active Virginia Master Naturalist volunteer in the Rivanna Chapter.

  • Professional Certificate in Free-choice Learning, Oregon State University, 2014.
  • Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute Fellow, U.Va. Institute for Environmental Negotiation/Virginia Tech/Virginia Dept. of Forestry, 2009
  • University of Minnesota, M.S. Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, 2001
  • North Carolina State University, B.S. Biological Sciences, Environmental Science Minor, 1996
  • Virginia Master Naturalist Program Director and and Cooperative Extension faculty member, Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, November 2015-present
  • Virginia Master Naturalist Special Projects Coordinator and Cooperative Extension faculty member, Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, September 2014-October 2015
  • Director of Science Education and Public Outreach, University of Virginia College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, 2012-2014
  • Virginia Master Naturalist Program Coordinator and Cooperative Extension faculty member, Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental
  • Conservation, 2005-2012
  • Citizen Science Director, Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, 2001-2005
  • Director, Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, University of Minnesota, 1997-2001
  • Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs.  Membership Committee member (2015-2016) and Officer-at-Large for the Board of Directors (2016)
  • Member, Integrity, Diversity, and Equity Committee, Citizen Science Association, 2015-2016.
  • Member, Virginia Resource-Use Education Council, 2006-2012, 2015-present.
  • Board of Directors, Flora of Virginia, Inc. Director and member of the Education and Outreach committee, 2014-present.
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension Leadership, Volunteerism, and Civic Engagement Program Team, Volunteer Management Sub-group.  Member. 2015-present.
  • Merenlender, A. M., A. W. Crall, S. Drill, M. Prysby, and H. Ballard.  In press.  Evaluating environmental education, citizen science, and stewardship through naturalist programs. Conservation Biology.
  • Parker, A. L., M. Prysby, and J. Kirwan.  2015.  American Naturalists.  Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication 465-312.  Virginia Tech.  https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/465/465-312/465-312.html.  
  • Lepczyk, C., O. Boyle, T. Vargo, P. Gould, R. Jordan, L. Liebenberg, S. Masi, W. Mueller, M. Prysby, H. Vaughan. 2009. “Citizen Science in Ecology: The intersection of research and education”, Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 90(3): 308-317.
  • Oberhauser, K.S. and M.D. Prysby. 2008. Citizen science: Creating a research army for conservation. American Entomologist 54: 97-99.
  • Prysby, M. and P. Super. 2007. The Directors Guide to Best Practices: Programming-Citizen Science. 53pp. Association of Nature Center Administrators.  Logan, UT.
  • Prysby, M. 2007. Biodiversity Inventories and Beyond: Bringing scientists and communities together at an environmental education center. Proceedings of the Citizen Science Toolkit Conference. Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Ithaca, New York.
  • Prysby, M.D. 2004. Natural enemies and survival of monarch eggs and larvae. In: Oberhauser, K.S. and M. J. Solensky, eds. The Monarch Butterfly: Biology and Conservation.  Cornell University Press: Ithaca, NY. 
  • Prysby, M.D. and K.S. Oberhauser. 2004. Temporal and geographic variation in monarch densities: Citizen scientists document monarch population patterns.  In: Oberhauser, K.S. and M.J. Solensky, eds.  The Monarch Butterfly: Biology and Conservation. Cornell University Press: Ithaca, NY.
  • Prysby, M.D. 2001. Temporal and geographic variation in monarch egg and larval densities (Danaus plexippus): An ecological application of citizen science.  Master’s Thesis. University of Minnesota.
  • Oberhauser, K.S., M.D. Prysby, et al.  2001. Temporal and spatial overlap between monarch larvae and corn pollen. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 98: 11913-11918.
Michelle Prysby