UC California Naturalist Program

cal-naturalist-logoThe 2021 California Naturalist Program is full.

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 scientific curriculum, guest lecturers, field trips and project-based learning to immerse you in the natural world of the central coast.

The fee for the program is $400.00.  A limited number of scholarships are available for those with need.

To directly support CNP and students needing financial assistance, please consider donating here

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

on the coastStudent 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.
2021 class is full


js-2018-naturalist-class.jpgQuestions? Contact the host for the Arboretum's 2021 California Naturalist Program, Linda Anderson.


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. For more information, contact Linda Anderson.


Schedule of Lectures and Field Trips for 2021

REQUIRED (so please plan): ALL lectures, first field trip, birding introduction with Clive, CAPSTONE Presentations, and 7 of 9 field trips (although you will not want to miss even one).

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






March 27

Introduction to iNaturalist, Journaling, and your fellow participants.

Field trip: Arboretum

Linda Anderson, Elizabeth Evans, and others

April 1

Introduction to natural history, California plant ecology and evolution

Ingrid M. Parker

Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


April 3

TBA, Field Trip: Activities at the Arboretum

Cast of characters

April 5, 6, 7

Birding Observations and Interpretations Field trip: Arboretum, 8 am (5th and 6th) 6:30 pm (7th)  Sign up for one time only

5 attendees max/session

Clive Bagshaw, Professor Emeritus, Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Leicester, UK

April 8

Behavioral Ecology of California Birds

Bruce Lyon, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC

April 10


Bird Behavior
Field trip: Long Marine Lab 

Bruce Lyon and Clive Bagshaw

April 15

Amphibians and Reptiles of California

Barry Sinervo, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC

April 17

Field Trip: Fort Ord

Amphibians and Reptiles of central coast

Joe Miller, Steward Fort Ord Reserve

April 22

The Natural History of Insects

Peter Oboyski, Executive Director, Essig Museum of Entomology

April 24

Insect Ecology and Campus Bioblitz

Field trip: Upper Marshall Meadows

Peter Oboyski and all of us

April 29

A brief geologic history of California

Elise Knittle, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, UCSC

May 1 or 2

Coastal Geology

Field trip: Santa Cruz to Año Nuevo



May 6


Restoration and Management of Coastal prairie, coastal scrub, riparian, and maritime chaparral ecosystems Grey Hayes, PhD, Education & Research Coordinator for California Polytechnic State University’s Swanton Pacific Ranch

May 8

Coastal Prairie: field techniques Field trip: Upper Marshall Meadow

Grey Hayes, PhD, Education & Research Coordinator, Swanton Reserve, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

May 13

Mammals of central coastal California

Alan Shabel, lecturer, UC Paleontology Museum, UC Berkeley

May 15

Native American Land Use and Management Practices

Field trip: Quiroste

Rick Flores, Director of Horticulture, Steward of Amah Mutsun Relearning Program, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden


May 20


Groundwater recharge: a critical surface- subsurface connection for California's central coast Andy Fisher, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, UCSC

May 22

Field Trip: Arboretum

Plant Family Presentations

All of us

May 27

Solutions for climate change, food systems, and water security

Dr Heather Tallis, UC Berkeley School of Public Health, University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment

May 29

Plankton Activity

LiMPETS Project

Field Trip: Tide Pools 

Clive Bagshaw

Hannah Sarver, Coordinator of LiMPETS project for Monterey Bay Sanctuary, Pacific Grove

June 3

Global climate change: geologic perspective

Linda Anderson, emeritus Paleoceanography researcher, Institute of Marine Sciences, UCSC

June 5


Cast of characters


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woods walk
lending a hand


Course Requirements

Required Coursework


Books (Required)

  • California Naturalist Handbook  Price $32.46
    Available for purchase first day of class.
  • The Natural History of the UC Santa Cruz Campus  $12.03
    Available for purchase first day of class.
    [Required reading schedule.]

Book (Suggested)

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

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