UC California Naturalist Program

cal-naturalist-logoThe California Naturalist Program for 2018 has ended.

  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.

Applications for the 2018 California Naturalist class are closed.

  The program starts on Thursday evening, April 5. The last meeting is Saturday, June 9. Lectures are required and will be from 7:00- 9:30 pm every Thursday (with a few exceptions highlighted in the program schedule). Field trips will generally be on Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm unless otherwise highlighted below[View the program schedule.]

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

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.

Applications are now closed

bird talkQuestions? Contact the hosts for the Arboretum's 2018 California Naturalist Program Linda Anderson or Brett Hall.


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 or Brett Hall.

Schedule of Lectures and Field Trips for 2018 Program

(All lectures will be at the Arboretum from 7:00 – 9:30 pm) except as highlighted (in bold text). Field Trips will generally be on Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm unless otherwise highlighted.  Please look carefully at the schedule and make sure that you are available for all lectures and at least 7 field trips.  We expect all participants to attend a bird observation morning with Todd Newberry and the final Capstone presentations.

Date Topic Speaker
April 5 Facilitated discussions.

Introduction to California ecology: fire, climate, adaptation and evolution

Tom Parker
, Professor of Biology, SF State University
April 7

Introduction to Journaling

Native American Land Use and Management Practices
Field trip: Quiroste

Elizabeth Evans, Journaling

Rob Cuthrell, post-doctoral researcher, Dept. of Anthropology, UC Berkeley

April 11
April 12
April 13
Birding Observations and Interpretations
Field trip: Arboretum, 8-11am
Sign up for one time only;
10 attendees max/session
Todd Newberry, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC
April 12 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
April 15

Coastal Prairie: field techniques Field trip: Upper UCSC campus

Grey Hayes, PhD, Education & Research Coordinator, Swanton Reserve, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
April 19 Drought Effects on California's Diverse Ecosystems Michael Loik, Professor of Environmental Studies, UCSC
April 20, 21, 22
Camping trip

Santa Lucia Mountains field trip Field trip: Big Creek Reserve, We will leave Friday morning and be back Sunday afternoon

Brett Hall, California Native Plant Program Director, UCSC Arboretum

April 27
The Natural History of Insects

Peter Oboyski, Senior Scientist, Collection Manager, Essig Museum of Entomology

April 28 Insect Ecology and Campus Bioblitz
Field trip: Upper Marshall Meadows
Peter Oboyski and all of us
May 3 Mammals of central coastal California Alan Shabel, lecturer, UC Paleontology Museum, UC Berkeley
May 4 Friday LiMPETS training session Emily Gottlieb, Coordinator of LiMPETS project for Monterey Bay Sanctuary, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
May 5 7:30 am

LiMPETS Project
Field Trip: Tide Pools

Emily Gottlieb
May 10 Amphibians and Reptiles of California Barry Sinervo, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC
May 12 Bioblitz, Fort Ord Joe Miller, Steward, UC Natural Reserve
May 17

A brief geologic history of California

Elise Knittle, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, UCSC
May 19

Coastal Geology
Field trip: Santa Cruz to Año Nuevo

Hilde Schwartz, Senior Lecturer, Earth & Planetary Sciences.
May 24

Behavioral Ecology of California Birds

Bruce Lyon, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC

May 27

Bird Behavior
Field trip: Long Marine Lab

Bruce Lyon and Todd Newberry
May 31

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

Andy Fisher, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, UCSC
June 2

Forest Management Matters
Field trip:  San Vincente Watershed

Nadia Hamey, Registered Professional Forester, Hamey Consulting

June 7 Global climate change: geologic perspective Linda Anderson, emeritus Paleoceanography researcher, Institute of Marine Sciences, UCSC
June 9
Capstones Cast of characters

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woods walk
lending a hand


Course Requirements

Required Coursework


Books (Required)

  • California Naturalist Handbook  $30.58  
    Available for purchase first day of class
  • The Natural History of the UC Santa Cruz Campus  $12.95

    [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