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California Naturalist Blog

  • During the online class, participants went outside to gather and compare a variety of leaves.
    UC inspires a love of nature to ensure future environmentalists

    Children learn math, reading and writing in school to prepare them for their future careers. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources supports their learning about California's natural environment in order to protect the planet. UC ANR provides the California home of Project Learning Tree, a national program founded in 1973, during the height of an environmental movement sparked by Rachael Carson's seminal book Silent Spring. “Everyone began to realize we were...


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    Participatory Scientists Make a Huge Contribution

    A "Natural History Note" From UC California Naturalist's new lead scientist, Cameron Barrows.  Back in 2016 I published a paper that quantified the added value of volunteer community scientists contributing to field surveys of lizards in Joshua Tree National Park. The reason for the paper was that there was and, in some cases, still is a cultural bias ingrained in many professional scientists against the quality of the data that volunteers collect. If I was going to incorporate citizen...


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    Beneath the ash are seeds prepared to sprout

    The frequency of disasters doesn't diminish the pain they bring. With 28 major fires burning across the state and the greatest area burned in a year, the scope of this disaster is unprecedented even in the context of recent record breaking fire seasons.   Within the places directly affected by these disasters are California naturalists, staff from our partner organizations, their families and the communities that they serve. This year, everyone knows someone who has been affected. For...


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    UC California Naturalist PAC Member, Course Instructor Claudia Diaz Carrasco Honored

    Please join us in congratulating UC California Naturalist Program Advisory Committee Member and course instructor Claudia P Diaz Carrasco for an award and recognition she received from Senator Mike Morrell for her work engaging underserved youth in environmental stewardship. Diaz Carrasco is an Area 4-H Youth Development Advisor with UC ANR in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, including the Coachella Valley. Her...


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    UC Climate Stewards Unveils Course Emblem

    The UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, through the California Naturalist Program, is developing a UC Climate Stewards certification course. In collaboration with partners including formal and informal science institutions, we will deliver a public program that improves climate change literacy and civic engagement for community and ecosystem resilience throughout California. The UC California Naturalist Program will prepare UC Climate Stewards to communicate and engage...


  • Dr. Cameron Barrows, the UC California Naturalist Program's first Lead Scientist
    UC California Naturalist Program Advisory Committee Update

    The California Naturalist Program's Program Advisory Committee (PAC) is a volunteer advisory group to the Director designed to provide feedback to the program, guide priorities, assist in evaluation, strengthen collaborations, and support program development efforts. I want to thank several of our members who have completed their term and welcome those who have recently joined the PAC. Those completing their term include Dr. Peggy Fiedler (UC Natural Reserve System), Jessica Bautista (UC ANR),...


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    UC Climate Stewards Instructor Training Launch

    On July 7, 2020, we launched the first UC Climate Stewards Instructor Training with 17 instructors from 11 pilot partner organizations across the state. Due to COVID-19 restrictions on meeting in person, we turned our planned 3-day, in-person training into a virtual venture. We chose to spread our 24 hours of training out over 8 days to best accommodate our trainers' schedules and offer the breaks and timing needed in the virtual environment. Our first day of training focused on the key...


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    A Small Change for a Big Impact

    Who can participate in citizen science? Everyone. Our 4,000 certified California Naturalists recorded over 7,000 volunteer hours under citizen science in 2019. Though citizen science is a relatively new term, people have been participating and contributing to scientific research throughout history. With the field growing immensely in the last 10 years, technological advances have helped researchers involve more people, communities have come together to answer important...


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    Black Nature Authors to Add to Your Bookshelf

    Looking for some new authors to add to your collection of inspirational nature writings? Search no more, we've started a list of authors you can read and contribute to right now to add some important new perspectives about how Black authors see the natural world, starting with those who live in California: Camille T. Dungy: Black Nature: Four Centuries of African-American Nature Poetry Carolyn Finley: Black Faces, White Spaces: African Americans and the Great Outdoors Cecil Griscombe:...


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    A Message of Solidarity from the UC California Naturalist Program

          For over a week, we've witnessed the pain, helplessness, grief, and anger that comes from the ongoing discrimination, bigotry and violence of systemic racism and environmental injustice. From the disproportionate impact of COVID-19, to the racist behavior against a black birder in Central Park, to the killing of George Floyd, these are just recent manifestations of the ongoing trauma that is a reality for people of color. While it is not within the power of a single...


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    Volunteer service in unprecedented times

    Unprecedented is an increasingly common adjective these days. It should be no surprise that unprecedented times often inspire unprecedented responses. Volunteer service by California Naturalists is no exception. For example, the most recently certified class of 12 California Naturalists at Sonoma Ecology Center completed capstone service learning projects ranging from creating wildflower guides and making native plant nursery labels, to facilitating new...


  • California Naturalists have a class at the LA River.
    New Program Partners in Southern California

        The UC California Naturalist program is expanding! As we continue to grow, we seek meaningful and intentional partnerships with diverse organizations that serve as informal and formal science centers and as gathering spaces for their communities. These organizations not only provide CalNat courses to their communities but a long list of other services. Continue reading to learn about the newest CalNat partners in the Southern California area. Please help us...


  • Ojai Valley Land Conservancy California Naturalists conduct a stream survey.
    UC Climate Stewards: Fostering resilience in California communities and ecosystems

      We've been working hard behind the scenes this year to launch the new UC Climate Stewards course in fall 2020. The 40-hour certification course from UC ANR's UC California Naturalist Program, empowers individuals to become leaders within their communities on climate solutions. Courses are delivered throughout California by trained partner organizations with expertise in science education. Many UC Climate Stewards partners will already be familiar to certified California Naturalists!...


  • Certified Naturalist, Diego Tamayo (diego4nature), uploaded this shot of a Black Pheobe during the Los Angeles County City Nature Challenge 2020
    California Naturalists Contribute to Science During the 2020 City Nature Challenge

    With how much we all have lost in the past few months, we really needed a win. And the win came from a somewhat unexpected place: nature. Our naturalists have long had a strong connection to their local flora and fauna, but recently more people have sought solace in the outdoors. These certified naturalists teamed up with fellow nature enthusiasts in their neighborhoods this year in the annual City Nature Challenge. With access to open space more limited in cities across the globe, the 5th...


  • Shannon shares the contents of her naturalist backpack.
    Our Naturalists' Recommendations and Favorite iNaturalist Observations

    California Naturalists are getting ready to participate in and around their homes for the City Nature Challenge 2020, April 24-27! If you want to participate, find out if your city is on the list this year. They told us using the survey what they are looking forward to seeing in their city. We've put some of the submissions together in this post to share some fun recommendations that our Naturalists love for further learning and their favorite iNaturalist observation from the...


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    The Joy of Discovery

    California Naturalists are getting ready to participate in and around their homes for the City Nature Challenge 2020! If you want to participate, find out if your city is on the list this year. They told us using the survey what they are looking forward to seeing in their city this year. Chris Sulots, City College of San Francisco certified naturalist, describes one of this favorite iNaturalist observations from last year's City Nature Challenge in the San Francisco Bay...


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    Inside a Naturalist's Backpack

    California Naturalists are getting ready to participate in and around their homes for the City Nature Challenge 2020! If you want to participate, find out if your city is on the list this year. They told us using the survey what they are looking forward to seeing in their city this year. Brenda Kyle, Pasadena City College certified naturalist, describes what a naturalist should have in in their backpack for the City Nature Challenge:   My pack is not very big and...


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    National Volunteer Week: Thank You for Your Service to Nature

    Discovery. Stewardship. Action. Service is at the core of being a certified California Naturalist. It's why for the start of National Volunteer Week, we take this special opportunity to thank our naturalists for their 47,055 hours of volunteer hours recorded in 2019 alone. While these hours hold an astonishing monetary value of $1,409,297, what's done within these hours holds so much more value to the people and places of California. From designing new interpretive walks, creating guides,...


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    Community Science to Connect

    As stay-at-home and lockdown orders disconnect us from people and places, our access to nature and our nature-loving communities has drastically changed. Contributing to citizen and community science projects (CCS) can help us stay connected. Here are some ideas to get started, but you can find a huge world of projects at SciStarter. Projects when you can get outside – in a park, a neighborhood walk, or your own backyard. iNaturalist (iNat): iNat is a social network for nature....


  • Tuleyome California Naturalist Graduation 2020 on Zoom
    New Distance Learning Resources for Educators & Naturalists

    Most people don't automatically seek on-line resources when want to deepen their naturalist practice and knowledge. However, increasingly many of the tools of modern naturalists are online, like iNaturalist. In response to recent "shelter in place" orders and an increasing demand for online and hybrid delivery courses in general, we are curating a list of our favorite online resources for quality California-focused natural history education. Online Content We have tried...