Trail News

Want to Become an Ecotour Guide in Rural Coastal Virginia in 2019?

Virginia Water Trails Kayaking
October 25, 2018

Want to turn your passion for paddling into a paycheck?

The 2019 Virginia Certified Ecotour Guide Course is now open for applications.

The eight-week course will be offered “live” online Tuesday evenings from January 15, 2019 to March 6, 2019.

Successful students will earn three CEUs (upon request) and certification credentials to lead their own ecotours.

The class will focus on the aspects of ecotourism, including, ecosystem science, customer service, business marketing, interpretation skills, culture and natural history.

A spring field trip will also be mandatory. The course cost is $150, or only $115 for re-certifications for guides who have already completed the course successfully at least once.

Guest speaker presentations will be incorporated into the course and active discussion is encouraged and required.

Interpretive materials and resources for the course will be provided. In order to qualify for ecotourism certification, certification in CPR & First Aid Certification is required and can be obtained at the student’s convenience.

Click here to download a PDF of a flyer for the course to share.

Importance of Ecotour Guides in Virginia

Tourism is a major driver in Virginia’s economy and ecotourism is especially important in rural coastal Virginia as it connects people to the natural resources that we are all striving to protect, and instill in the community a strong will to take care of these life-sustaining resources.

The Virginia CZM Program 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. Because of this the program was able to reach tour operators and outdoor enthusiasts not only from the Eastern Shore, but also from the Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck, 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.