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>> Goals
>> Outcomes
>> Schedule
>> Requirements
>> Reading Schedule

For more information about the program, take a look at the UC California Naturalist Program website.
And view a video about the program on that website.


California Naturalist Program
March 26 - May 30, 2015

Note: the application deadline for the 2015 California Naturalist Program was March 2, applications are no longer being accepted.

The California Naturalist class will introduce you to the wonders of California’s unique ecology and engage you in the stewardship of our natural communities. This intensive certification program will utilize a combination of science curriculum, guest lecturers, field trips and project-based learning to immerse you in the natural world of the central coast. The program starts on Thursday evening, March 26. The last meeting is Saturday, May 30. Lectures will be from 7:00- 9:30 pm every Thursday with most field trips on Saturday or Sunday. [View the program schedule.]

Program Goals:

  • Foster a committed corps of volunteer naturalists and citizen scientists trained and ready to take an active role in natural resource conservation, education, and restoration
  • Provide training, in collaboration with local sponsoring institutions, for adult environmental stewards through an adaptable outdoor and in class curriculum which can be easily applied in a variety of settings
  • Engage adults in interactive learning which provides them with scientific literacy and critical thinking skills

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand what it means to be a naturalist
  • Integrate knowledge about the interconnectedness of abiotic, biotic and cultural factors and their influence on the natural history of the central coast
  • Demonstrate skills in making and recording natural history observations in a field notebook
  • Apply knowledge of central coast ecosystems to local and global environmental issues.
  • Meet all of the course requirements.

Questions? Contact the hosts for the Arboretum's 2015 California Naturalist Program:

mountain lion photo

Consider becoming a sponsor! Your sponsorship will be greatly appreciated. Sponsors are acknowledged in class literature, on the Arboretum's website, in class presentations, and in class communications.

Schedule of Lectures and Field Trips

(All lectures will be at the Arboretum on Thursday 7:00 – 9:30 except as highlighted. Field Trips will generally be on Saturday from 9 am to 4pm unless otherwise highlighted.)

Date Topic Speaker
March 26 Introduction to California ecology: fire, climate, adaptation and evolution Tom Parker, Professor of Biology, SF State University
March 28 Journaling and iNaturalist training Arboretum Forest Management Matters Field trip: San Vincente Watershed Elizabeth Evans: Journaling
Brett Bell: iNaturalist
Nadia Hamey, Registered Professional Forester, Hamey Consulting
April 2 Mushrooms of the Santa Cruz Mountains Christian Schwarz, Natural History Museum, Fungi guru
April 4 Native American Land Use and Management Practices Field trip: Quiroste Rob Cuthrell, post-doctoral researcher, Dept. of Anthropology, UC Berkeley
April 7,8,9 Birding Observations and Interpretations Field trip: Arboretum,
8 am Sign up for one time only;
10 attendees max/session
Todd Newberry, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC
April 9 Restoration and Management of Coastal prairie, coastal scrub, riparian, and maritime chaparral ecosystems Grey Hayes, Ecologist, Coastal Training Program Coordinator, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve
April 11 Coastal Prairie: field techniques Field trip: Upper UCSC campus Grey Hayes
April 16 A brief geologic history of California Elise Knittle, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, UCSC
April 18 Coastal Geology Field trip: Santa Cruz to Año Nuevo Jerry Weber, Consulting Geologist, Emeritus Senior Lecturer, Summer Field Hilde Schwartz, Senior Lecturer, Earth &Planetary Sciences.
April 20, Monday California: an ecoregional tour Todd Keeler-Wolf, Environmental Scientist and Ecologist, California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
April 24, 25,26 Santa Lucia Mountains field trip Field trip: Big Creek Reserve Brett Hall, Director of Collections and Conservation, UCSC Arboretum, and others
April 30 Mammals of the Monterey Bay area: ancient, historical, extant Alan B. Shabel, PhD, Lecturer, Dept. of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley
May 2 Herpetology Field trip: Arboretum
(start at 1 pm)
Gage Dayton Director of Natural Reserve
May 8, Friday LiMPETS training session Emily Gottlieb, Coordinator of LiMPETS project for Monterey Bay Sanctuary, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
May 9 LiMPETS Project Field Trip: Tide Pools
(start at 8 am)
Emily Gottlieb
May 14 Groundwater recharge: a critical surface-subsurface connection for California's central coast Andy Fisher, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, UCSC
May 15, Friday The Natural History of Insects Peter Oboyski, Senior Scientist, Collection Manager, Essig Museum of Entomology
May 16 Insect Ecology Field trip: Arboretum Peter Oboyski
May 21 Behavioral Ecology of California Birds Bruce Lyon, Professor Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC
May 24, Sunday Bird Behavior Field trip: Long Marine Lab
(start 8 am)
Bruce Lyon, Todd Newberry
May 28 Global climate change: why, when, and what can we do Linda Anderson, emeritus Paleoceanography researcher, Institute of Marine Sciences, UCSC
May 30 CAPSTONE presentations Arboretum Cast of characters

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Course Requirements

Required Coursework


Books (Required)

Book (Suggested)

  • The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, by Sibley, D.A.

Supplies (Required)

  • Field Notebook (Sokkia mining transit, Moleskine watercolor or the equivalent)
  • Water proof ink pen or pencil, small plastic ruler.
  • Hand lens (at least 10x jewelers loop, magnifying glass) 

Supplies (Suggested)

  • Binoculars
  • Digital camera or smart phone
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Reading List

Week of: California Naturalist Handbook Natural History of UCSC Campus
March 28 Chapter 1,7, 8 Chapter 3
April 2
Chapter 1,4, 9
April 9 Chapter 5 Chapter 3
April 16 Chapter 2 Chapter 2
April 23 Chapter 4 Chapter 7, 8
April 30 Chapter 6 Chapter 10
May 7

May 14 Chapter 3 Chapter 6
May 21
Chapter 9
May 28 Chapter 7

Lecturers may recommend additional reading.

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