Cuesta College

The UC California Naturalist Program is designed to introduce Californians to the wonders of our unique ecology, to engage and instill a deep appreciation for natural communities, and to become stewards of their local resources.

The California Naturalist course at Cuesta College is composed of 8 Fridays, 9 am to 3 pm, totaling 40 hours of instruction plus driving time and lunch breaks. Each Friday starts on campus with a classroom presentation, followed by a field trip. Field trips are by private vehicle (carpool) and include one mile of walking. The last class includes short presentations of capstone projects. Assigned readings include the textbook, The California Naturalist Handbook, and other additional short reading assignments in preparation for field trips.

Course Requirements:

  • Textbook: The California Naturalist Handbook
  • 40 hours of instruction in the classroom and on field trips
  • Using a field notebook and journal
  • Participation in a class iNaturalist Project
  • Participation in a Citizen Science Project
  • A capstone project presentation
  • Associated readings and homework

Highlighted Field Trips:

  • Cuesta College Campus
  • SLO Botanical Garden
  • Morro Bay National Estuary
  • North Coast forests and grasslands
  • SLO Wastewater treatment plant
  • PGE Energy Education Center

Upon completion of the course, students receive a certification and pin confirming their role as a California Naturalist. Participants are eligible for four academic credits through UC Davis Extension for an additional fee.

Subjects covered include California ecology, geology, plant communities, forest/woodland and range resources and management wildlife, communication and interpretation, citizen science, energy and global environmental issues.

This class is ideal for adults who want to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of California’s natural history in a structured 8-week program. It’s a great resume-builder for people seeking jobs in environmental fields. It offers four units of transferable UC credit for students. And it’s a fun and enjoyable way to see many unique areas in San Luis Obispo County.

Certified California Naturalists who record a minimum of 40 hours in the California Naturalist volunteer portal within a calendar year are eligible to receive an annual service pin. California Naturalists learn about opportunities to volunteer with federal, state, local and nonprofit organizations.

Course Schedule: 8 Fridays, May 3 - June 21, 2019, 9:00am - 3:00pm

Course Fee: $375

Registration: Visit Cuesta College's course webpage to register. 

Contact: Michele Roest,