The California Naturalist Program | Sonoma Ecology Center

The Sonoma Ecology Center California Naturalist Program

The CalNat Spring 2020 Course Syllabus is now available. Click here for pdf.

Course enrollment is now open for the Spring 2020 course. Register here.

“California is an incredible place to be a naturalist.”

So begins “The California Naturalist Handbook,” the standard textbook for a rigorous UC-approved course designed to turn local nature lovers into trained California Naturalists. These knowledge keepers act as park docents and as key leaders in the “citizen science” movement helping to shape California’s future.

Sonoma Ecology Center is teaming up with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources to offer this accredited nine-week course locally. The course results in real college credits, and it turns nature lovers into certified graduates of the UC California Naturalist Program, making them valuable authorities on California’s plants and animals, geology and soils, water, climate, biodiversity and more. Recent classes have featured a special emphasis on the wildfires in Sonoma Valley and how they have affected our forests and wildlife communities.

CalNat courses are only available at certain locations throughout the state. Now, thanks to Sonoma Ecology Center’s educators, the course is being offered at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, with students gathering in Sugarloaf’s Robert Ferguson Observatory. Sonoma and Napa county residents interested in joining the elite and venerable league of California Naturalists are encouraged to register for the next course!

The course combines a science curriculum with guest lectures, field trips and project-based learning to explore the unique ecology and natural history of the Inner Coastal Range of Sonoma and Napa. As their final project for the program, each naturalist-in-training will complete an eight-hour volunteer service project for a local community organization. Participants will graduate with a specialized knowledge of the oak woodlands indigenous to the Mayacamas Mountains.

There is currently room available in our Spring 2020 course! Classes are March 10 to May 9, Tuesday evenings 6-8:30 p.m. with the exception of week three, which will be held on Thursday, March 26 and a special Friday evening course on May 8th, with an optional group campout included in the program for the first time! Evening classes meet at the Robert Ferguson Observatory at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (2605 Adobe Canyon Rd, Kenwood CA). There will be four Saturday field trips as well held on at various locations around Sonoma Valley, including Sugarloaf and the Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve and Calabazas Creek Open Space Preserve.

Registration is $449, with need-based scholarships available. (Students also must purchase their own copy of “The California Naturalist Handbook.”)

For details or to register, go to https://sonomaecologycentercalnat2020.brownpapertickets.comFor more information, contact Tony Passantino at 707-996-0712 ext. 124 or