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.


Check back soon for updated 2021 Schedule!

Schedule of Lectures and Field Trips for 2020

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






April 2

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

Tom Parker, Biology Professor, emeritus, SF State

April 4

Introduction to iNaturalist, Journaling, and your fellow participants.

Field trip: Arboretum

Linda Anderson, Elizabeth Evans, Brett Bell

April 6,

7, 8


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

10 attendees max/session

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

April 9

Behavioral Ecology of California Birds

Bruce Lyon, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC

April 11


Bird Behavior
Field trip: Long Marine Lab 

Bruce Lyon and Clive Bagshaw

April 16

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

Andy Fisher, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, UCSC

April 17,18,19

Santa Lucia Mountains field trip

Field trip: Big Creek Reserve

Leave Friday morning and back Sunday afternoon

Brett Hall, California Native Plant Program Director, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

April 23

A brief geologic history of California

Elise Knittle, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, UCSC

April 25 or 26

Coastal Geology

Field trip: Santa Cruz to Año Nuevo


April 30

Mammals of central coastal California

Alan Shabel, lecturer, UC Paleontology Museum, UC Berkeley

May 2


Plankton Activity

LiMPETS Project

Field Trip: Tide Pools

Clive Bagshaw

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

May 8 Friday

7-9:30 pm

The Natural History of Insects

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

May 9

Insect Ecology and Campus Bioblitz

Field trip: Upper Marshall Meadows

Peter Oboyski and all of us

May 14

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 17


Field Techniques

Field Trip: Upper Marshall Meadow, UCSC

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

Brett Hall, Native Plant Program Director, UCSC Arboretum

May 21

Amphibians and Reptiles of California

Barry Sinervo, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC

May 23

Forest Management Matters
Field trip:  San Vicente Watershed

Nadia Hamey, Registered Professional Forester, Hamey Consulting

May 28

Global climate change: geologic perspective

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

May 30

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

June 4

Plant Family Presentations

All of us

June 6


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