UC California Naturalist Program

cal-naturalist-logoThe California Naturalist Program applications for 2019 are now closed!

  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, April 4. The last meeting is Saturday, June 8. 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 for 2019 are now closed.

js-2018-naturalist-class.jpgQuestions? Contact the hosts for the Arboretum's 2018 California Naturalist Program Linda Anderson or Brett Bell.


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 Amber Burke.

Schedule of Lectures and Field Trips for 2019

These are 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 – 9:30 on Thursday, except as highlighted. Field Trips will generally be on Saturday from 9 am to 4pm, unless otherwise highlighted.




April 4

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

Tom Parker, Professor of Biology, SF State University

April 6

Journaling: Arboretum

Native American Land Use and Management Practices

Field trip: Quiroste

Brett Bell: Journaling

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

April 10,




Birding Observations and Interpretations Field trip: Arboretum, 8 am

Sign up for one time only

10 attendees max/session

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

April 11

Behavioral Ecology of California Birds

Bruce Lyon, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC

April 14



Bird Behavior
Field trip: Long Marine Lab 

Bruce Lyon and Clive Bagshaw

April 18

Amphibians and Reptiles of California

Barry Sinervo, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC

April 20


Amphibians and Reptiles

Field Trip: Fort Ord

UCLA Shaffer Lab Research Site, Fort Ord National Monument

Joe Miller, Steward Fort Ord Reserve

Robert Cooper, UCLA Schaffer Lab

April 25

Mammals of central coastal California

Alan Shabel, lecturer, UC Paleontology Museum, UC Berkeley

April 26 Friday

7-9:30 pm

The Natural History of Insects

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

April 27

Insect Ecology and Campus Bioblitz

Field trip: Upper Marshall Meadows

Peter Oboyski and all of us

May 2

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

Andy Fisher, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, UCSC

May 3 Friday


LiMPETS training session

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

May 4

6 am-10

LiMPETS Project

Field Trip: Tide Pools  

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

May 9

Rain, Snow, Fog, & Drought in California Ecosystems

Michael Loik, Professor of Environmental Studies, UCSC

May 10,11,12

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, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

May 16

A brief geologic history of California

Elise Knittle, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, UCSC

May 18 or 19

Coastal Geology

Field trip: Santa Cruz to Año Nuevo


May 23

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 25

Coastal Prairie: field techniques

Field trip: Swanton Pacific Ranch

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

May 30

Global climate change: geologic perspective

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

June 1

Forest Management Matters
Field trip:  San Vincente Watershed

Nadia Hamey, Registered Professional Forester, Hamey Consulting

June 6

Conserving California’s Coastal Habitats:

A Legacy and a Future with Sea Level Rise

Joshua Morris

M.A. International Environmental Policy
Ocean & Coastal Resource Management Specialist

June 8


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