California Naturalist

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Do you enjoy learning about the natural world? Would you like to learn about the amazing and unique ecology of California? If so, become a certified California Naturalist! The Pacific Grove Museum is partnering with University of California Cooperative Extension to offer this certification program for Monterey County. 

Receive University of California certification as a California Naturalist after completing 40-hours of hands-on training with expert instructors and fellow learners- studying natural history, environmental interpretation, and conservation stewardship. Course instructors are local field experts and scientists selected from organizations working directly with our local natural resources such as the Bureau of Land Management, California State University- Monterey Bay, and the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Management District. 

The California Naturalist class covers the natural and cultural history of California, with an in-depth look at our local ecology. Through field trips, classroom instruction and hands-on exercises, participants will observe and learn about the variety of plant and animal communities of our region. Through the course, participants will develop their ability to observe nature and will learn tools to improve these skills. In addition, participants will improve their communication skills by sharing knowledge with other participants and by working on a group project.

What You'll Learn

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Understand what it means to be a naturalist
  2. Integrate knowledge about the interconnectedness of abiotic, biotic and cultural factors and their influence on the natural history of Monterey County
  3. Demonstrate skills in making and recording natural history observations in a field notebook.
  4. Apply knowledge of Monterey area ecosystems to local and global environmental issues.

Class Structure

The 12-week course meets once a week and integrates in-class, field, and project-based learning.

1. Class & Readings

Class will be held once a week for 2.5 hours and each week there will be readings to be done before class in the California Naturalist textbook and additional optional readings.

2. Field Trips

This class will have 4 required field trips. Please see the course schedule for field trip dates. We will be carpooling when possible for field trips. 2016 Scheduled Field Trip Dates: 3/12, 4/2, 4/30, & 5/7.

3. Field Notebooks

All participants are required to keep a field notebook during the course and hopefully beyond. We will be using these journals during class, on field trips and hopefully on your own time. Keeping a field journal is one of the best ways of fostering continued learning and getting to know a place intimately.

4. Capstone

As a requirement of this course, participants are required to complete a volunteer service project. It is designed to provide a bridge from the class to service. Participants are encouraged to work in teams when appropriate, and on the final night of class will have presentations on the projects. Presentations will be 5 minutes long per person (so 15 minutes for a 3 person group) and are to summarize the work that the group has done.

5. Volunteering

Naturalists are encouraged to complete at least 40 hours of volunteer service each year. The Criteria for California Naturalist volunteer service is that the activity should:

  • Relate to California’s natural or environmental cultural history
  • Occur in California
  • Be sponsored by an organization
  • Be unpaid
  • Each volunteer service activity should fit under one of these categories: Stewardship, Education/Interpretation, Citizen Science and Program Support.
  • We  will log these volunteer hours on the UC Volunteer Management System (VMS), which will be covered during the first day of class.

Registration Information

For information about registering for the California Naturalist Program please contact Ann Wasser (831) 648-5716, ext 14