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Virginia Naturally School Recognition Program

Virginia Naturally (VAN) Schools is the official environmental education school recognition program of the Commonwealth, administered by the Department of Wildlife Resources. The Virginia Board of Education has recognized the Virginia Naturally School program as the official environmental education school recognition program for the state. This program recognizes the wonderful efforts of many Virginia schools to increase the environmental literacy of our youngest citizens.

If your school has already been working to include education about the environment in the curriculum then read on and apply for the Virginia Naturally School Recognition Award. This is not a one-time award but one upon which your school may build and achieve recognition each year you participate.


To recognize the exemplary efforts undertaken by Virginia schools to increase the Environmental Literacy of its students.


A tiered recognition program has been developed to award Virginia’s schools:

  • For each year of recognition schools will receive a certificate of recognition and a digital badge featuring a Virginia’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN).
    • Schools will be able to scale and use the digital badge image for email signatures, websites, newsletters and if the school chooses to produce any products with the digital badge such as shirts, bumper stickers, etc.
    • Example of Recognition Year 1 badge- A green badge with the Virginia SGCN species, the Peregrine Falcon: Image is of the Virginia Naturally Year 1 badge, in the center is a drawing of a Peregrine Falcon
  •  In addition to the certificate and digital badge each year, schools will also receive the following awards during these benchmark years:
    • Year 1:  Wooden plaque to display the school’s recognition certificate Image is of the Virginia Naturally wooden plaque
    • Year 5:  Congratulatory letter from the DWR director
    • Year 10:  Metal Virginia Naturally Schools sign for the schoolyard 
    • Year 15:  Set of DWR’s field guides (Virginia’s Guide to Bats; Turtles; Snakes; Frogs and Salamanders; etc)
    • Year 20:  Invitation for recognition at a DWR Board meeting


  • Schools that have begun to receive the pennant flag awards prior to the 22-23 application year can opt in on their application to continue to receive flags until the school opts out or has received all flag awards possible [flags are only given for years 2 through 9, 13, and 16]. These pennant awards are being phased out and are only available to schools that have already began the process of collecting them. 

Application Process

Schools may submit applications between April 1 and June 30 of each school year. The recognition will be awarded by the Fall of the following school year.

See VAN Application Directions and Requirements for more information.


The application is an online form. We suggest you compose your answers to each question in a savable document and then cut and paste your answers into the online form to prevent you from losing your work.  In order to help you accurately know your school’s recognition year, please see this Virginia Naturally Schools up to Fall 2023 school year. Each year, the application opens on April 1st and closes on June 30th.

Apply Online

If you have any questions, please contact Courtney Hallacher at or 804-389-4424.