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Become a Certified Naturalist or Climate Steward

UC Environmental Stewards collaborates with local community partner organizations to deliver Climate Stewards and California Naturalist certification courses near you. To become a certified California Naturalist or Climate Steward, you need to enroll in a 40+ hour course with one of our partner organizations in one of the Climate Stewards Partners or CalNat Partners tabs. For a list of our state-wide partners (organizations we collaborate with to meet our mission but don't offer our courses) click here!

Why Become a California Naturalist or Climate Steward?

We are intimately connected to nature, and our ecosystems provide a home to 40 million people. Our natural home directly influences our water quality, air quality, food production, and ultimately our health. We are responsible for maintenance, but California’s ecosystems don’t come with a user’s manual. Sustaining natural resources requires an understanding of science, adaptive management, and cooperation among diverse interest groups. We cannot protect and restore California’s unique ecology without an environmentally literate, engaged public.

A statewide program of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, our courses are designed for adults including teachers, docents, land stewards, natural resource professionals, and nature enthusiasts wanting to develop a sense of place and participate in service learning and stewardship of natural resources. 

We work with over 45 partner organizations that have certified a community of over 4,000 Naturalists around the state who have, in turn, volunteered over 200,000 hours in service to nature in the areas of education and interpretation, stewardship, citizen science, and environmental program support.

We offer two different certification courses through local partners across the state: California Naturalist and Climate Stewards.

California Naturalist Certification

California Naturalist courses combine classroom and field experience in science, problem-solving, communication training and community service. Upon completing certification requirements, participants enrolled in non-community college courses are eligible for four academic units through UC Davis Extension for an additional nominal fee.

California Naturalist Certification through the University of California provides the following benefits:

  • New skills, opportunities, and incentives for personal, volunteer, and professional development.
  • Optional four academic credits through UC Davis Extension for an additional nominal fee (non-community college programs)
  • Future discounts and invitations to CalNat biennial statewide conferences and other continuing education opportunities.
  • Connections to science institutions across the state.
  • Fellowship and collaboration with other certified California Naturalists throughout the state.
  • The excitement of being part of the venerable tradition of naturalists throughout history and part of a new innovative community of natural resource stewards.

Climate Stewards Certification

A growing number of organizations are offering Climate Stewards courses. Please see the course calendar on this page for upcoming Climate Stewards certification courses near you.

Climate Stewards courses combine classroom, online, and field experiences in climate science (i.e., earth systems, water, energy, agriculture), climate communication (i.e., social-emotional resilience, trauma-aware practices, strategic framing), participatory science (i.e., community resilience assessment), and community service opportunities. After certification, Climate Stewards will be encouraged to volunteer in activities ranging from participatory science, environmental and climate justice, community resilience and adaptation, conservation and restoration, and education and interpretation activities.

The course includes an overview of state and local climate policies so that UC Climate Stewards is a catalyst for public participation in California’s climate change initiatives.

Interested in becoming a partnering organization and delivering the course? Find more info here

Stay in touch! To get updates about new programs and continuing education opportunities please join our listserve and read our blog here. We're social on Facebook, LinkedInInstagram, and YouTube.