California Naturalists

The California Naturalist Program

Natural History stands alone as a science that weaves plants, animals, geology, and climate into a tapestry of knowledge. Starting with an overview of California’s rich natural history, the UC California Naturalist program then focuses on the tapestry of the southern California deserts — from the low elevations of the Colorado Desert to the higher Mojave Desert, from isolated sand dune islands to desert mountains, often referred to as “sky islands.” 

Deserts are a huge component of California, encompassing more than one third of the state, reaching up the eastern spine of the state up north of Mono Lake, and into the San Joaquin Valley, an area sometimes identified as a separate desert ecoregion. Despite the kaleidoscope of tans, beiges, and browns that characterize deserts, deserts are rich in biodiversity, a multitude of plants and animals that are unique to this region. Natural History is a discipline best taught outside; expect to spend much of your time with your feet in the sand.

The Winter 2024 program runs 11 weeks from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays starting in Feb. 2024. All classes will be held in person with field trips to various locations.

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The goals of this program

  • Develop an informed corps of naturalists ready to take an active role in natural resource conservation, education, restoration, and science.
  • Provide training for staff and volunteers for regional conservation organizations. 
  • Engage people in interactive learning to stimulate critical thinking and scientific literacy.
  • Provide a foundation from which to continue to learn about the world around us and to apply that knowledge to further studies, educating others, restoring landscapes, and more.
  • To create a “community of naturalists” to foster collaborative projects, on-going learning opportunities, and participation in activities that promote a healthy environment through science, education and hands-on activities. 
  •  Natural History is a discipline best taught outside; expect to spend much of your time with your feet in the sand.

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