UC California Naturalist Program

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 2023 program is $450.00.  

A limited number of scholarships are available for those with need.
To directly support CNP and students needing financial assistance, please consider donating:

Make a donation to support this year's budding naturalists - click HERE

With much appreciation

We, the Arboretum staff, would like to give special thanks to CNP class organizers Linda Anderson and Joel Mckelvey who donate all of their time to coordinate CNP lectures, instructors and field trips for the annual Cal. Naturalist Program...with EXTRA thanks to Linda Anderson for the past 10+ years of running this popular and vitally important program.

Thank you to the many CNP instructors who have also donated time and expertise to the program, including Clive Bagshaw, Elizabeth Evans, Bruce Lyon, and Rick Flores. Thank you to all participating Professors and Instructors for sharing your love and expertise for the natural world - may we continue to learn about and appreciate it. 

 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 a host for the Arboretum's 2023 California Naturalist Program, Linda Anderson or Joel Mckelvey.

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 2023

April 1- June 10  

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

Campus COVID restrictions will be strictly followed including full vaccination for all participants, masking, and adequate distancing. Most lectures will be online from 7:00 – 9:30pm on Thursdays except as noted below. Field Trips will generally be on Saturday from 9:00 - 4:00pm unless otherwise noted.


IN-PERSON sessions are highlighted in ORANGE.

ONLINE sessions are in un-highlighted boxes.




April 1


UCSC Arboretum

Introduction to iNaturalist, Journaling, and your fellow participants.

Field trip: UCSC Arboretum

Linda Anderson, Joel McKelvey, Elizabeth Evans, and Clive Bagshaw

April 6

Introduction to natural history, California plant ecology and evolution

Ingrid M. Parker

Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz, and Faculty Executive Director, UCSC Greenhouses

April 8


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

April 10,11,12


Birding Observations and Interpretations Field trip: Arboretum, 8 am (10th and 11th) 6:30 pm (12th)  Sign up for one time only

5 attendees max/session

Clive Bagshaw

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

April 13

Behavioral Ecology of California Birds

Bruce Lyon

Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz

April 15


Bird Behavior
Field trip: Long Marine Lab 

Bruce Lyon and Clive Bagshaw

April 20


Mammals of central coastal California


Alan Shabel 

Lecturer, UC Paleontology Museum, UC Berkeley, Manager and Director of Point Reyes Field Station

April 21


Training for tidepool monitoring

Hannah Sarver

Coordinator of LiMPETS project for Monterey Bay Sanctuary, Pacific Grove

April 22  Saturday


LiMPETS Project

Plankton Activity

Field Trip: Natural Bridges Tidepools and Arboretum

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

Clive Bagshaw

April 28

Friday 7-9:30

Amphibians and Reptiles of California

Sean Reilly

Lecturer Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Science, UCSC

April 29


Amphibians and Reptiles of central coast 

Joe Miller 

Steward Fort Ord Reserve

May 4


The Natural History of Insects

Peter Oboyski

Executive Director, Essig Museum of Entomology

May 6


Insect Ecology and Campus Bioblitz

Field trip: Upper Marshall Meadows

Peter Oboyski 

and all of us

May 11


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 13


Coastal Prairie: field techniques Field trip: Upper Marshall Meadow

Grey Hayes, PhD, Education & Research Coordinator for California Polytechnic State University’s Swanton Pacific Ranch

May 18

A brief geologic history of California

Elise Knittle

Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, UCSC

May 21

Coastal Geology

Field trip: Santa Cruz to Año Nuevo

Hilde Schwartz

Senior Lecturer, Earth & Planetary Sciences.

May 25


Groundwater recharge: a critical surface- subsurface connection for California's central coast

Andy Fisher

Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, UCSC

May 27

Plant and habitat presentation Cast of Characters... us!

June 1


Solutions for climate change, foodsystems, and water security


June 3

Forest Management Matters
Field trip:  San Vincente Watershed

Nadia Hamey

Registered ProfessionalForester, Hamey Consulting

June 8

Global climate change: geologic perspective

Linda Anderson 

Emeritus Paleocenographyresearcher, Institute of Marine Sciences, UCSC

June 10


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

The application deadline for the 2023 CNP class was March 5, 2023