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Frequently Asked Questions

UC Environmental Stewards is growing and we want to keep you informed. This FAQ page is designed to answer basic questions that UCANR County Directors, academics, staff, or potential partner organizations may have.
Contact the UC Environmental Stewards Team
What is the UC Environmental Stewards?

The mission of UC Environmental Stewards is to foster a diverse community of stewards building toward sustainability and resilience in California’s communities and ecosystems through education and service.

As a statewide program of the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR), UC Environmental Stewards offers two adult education certification courses: Climate Stewards and California Naturalist. Both certifications are community college level, interdisciplinary, science-centered courses that combine a minimum of 40 hours of classroom and field learning. Upon certification, participants are eligible for four academic credits through UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education. Read more here. 

How did UC Environmental Stewards get started?

UC Environmental Stewards was originally formed as the UC California Naturalist Program. The idea of starting a statewide naturalist program was presented at a UCANR natural resource continuing education conference. UC Extension academics shared feedback that these programs have value, there is likely interest in California, but not enough ANR Natural Resource Advisors or county based capacity to deliver the program out of UC Cooperative Extension county offices. Based on this feedback and guidance from UCANR administrators, a train-the-trainer model was developed and piloted at Santa Rosa Junior College in collaboration with Pepperwood Preserve in 2010/11.

Many people helped get CalNat off the ground in the early days, including UC ANR employees, handbook authors, and Santa Rosa Junior College instructors: Adina Merenlender, Julie Fetherston, Deborah Stanger Edelman, Brook Gamble, Sabrina Drill, Bill Frost, Greg de Nevers, Steve Barnhart, Shawn Brumbaugh, and Rebecca Perlroth. In 2012, early adopter partnering organizations led the eventual expansion of CalNat: Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, Pepperwood Preserve, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, UC Sagehen Creek Field Station, and UC Berkeley Jepson Herbarium.

California Naturalist became a UC ANR statewide program in 2014, at which point the California Naturalist Unit was created within UC ANR and the Program Advisory Committee was appointed.

In 2023, the UC California Naturalist Program became UC Environmental Stewards to better encapsulate our mission and the two courses that we offer.


How do I become a California Naturalist or Climate Steward?
To become a certified California Naturalist or Climate Steward, participants need to enroll in a course with one of our partner organizations.

Who can become a California Naturalist and Climate Steward?
The California Naturalist and Climate Stewards courses are open to adults and have no prerequisites, other than an interest in learning about the natural world and the desire to be an environmental steward.

Where and when are California Naturalist and Climate Stewards courses offered?
UC Environmental Stewards collaborates with local partner organizations to deliver the certification courses near you. Click here to see a map and calendar of upcoming courses. 

Why support UC Environmental Stewards?
UC Environmental Stewards supports a growing community of stewards who can work or volunteer in a wide range of activities that support the stewardship of our natural resources, including education and interpretation, conservation & restoration, participatory science, environmental program support, community resilience, and environmental justice. Naturalists may in turn volunteer with other statewide programs and projects such as 4-H, Project Learning Tree, and Master Gardener programs.

How can I stay informed about UC Environmental Stewards news?
To stay up to date on all the latest developments, sign up for our e-newsletter here. View archives here.

How do I request data on UC Environmental Stewards in my area?
To request data on the number of courses, instructors, and Environmental Stewards trained in your area, as well as other program performance measures such as volunteer engagement, please contact Greg Ira.

How do I start a new California Naturalist or Climate Stewards course in my area?
If there is no California Naturalist or Climate Stewards course in your area, click here for information on the requirements for potential partnering organizations.  
Contact the UC Environmental Stewards Team
Have a question for someone from the UC Environmental Stewards team? Click here to meet the team and learn their roles in the program.