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UCR Palm Desert Center

Course Descriptions

UC Riverside Palm Desert Center is offering the Climate Stewards certification course and the California Naturalist certification course in Riverside County. 

UC California Naturalist certification course

The UC Riverside Palm Desert Center California Naturalist course is the first course in the program with a focus on desert ecosystems. The course builds on instructor Dr. Cameron Barrow's wealth of research experience working with reptiles in Joshua Tree National Park and throughout the region. Working with local partners, the course will provide a unique look at the arid lands in Southern California and provide strong connections to local opportunities for engagement in citizen science monitoring programs. The California Naturalist Program will engage and empower the community to help protect and preserve the diverse desert habitats now and for future generations.

Natural History stands alone as a science that weaves plants, animals, geology, and climate into a tapestry of knowledge. Starting with an overview of California’s rich natural history, the UC California Naturalist program then focuses on the tapestry of the southern California deserts — from the low elevations of the Colorado Desert to the higher Mojave Desert, from isolated sand dune islands to desert mountains, often referred to as “sky islands.” 

Deserts are a huge component of California, encompassing more than one third of the state, reaching up the eastern spine of the state up north of Mono Lake, and into the San Joaquin Valley, an area sometimes identified as a separate desert ecoregion. Despite the kaleidoscope of tans, beiges, and browns that characterize deserts, deserts are rich in biodiversity, a multitude of plants and animals that are unique to this region. Natural History is a discipline best taught outside; expect to spend much of your time with your feet in the sand.

Dates: TBA

Contact: palmdesert@ucr.edu 

Course Website


UC Climate Stewards certification course

The UC California Naturalist Climate Stewards Course introduces Californians to how climate is changing both natural and social systems; it also empowers them to discover ways to improve ecosystem and community resilience. UCR Palm Desert launched a 10-week pilot program in fall 2020, and a second cohort in July 2021. The course uses an interdisciplinary curriculum that consists of online and hands-on learning in the field, experience sharing, and community service to build community connections and instill agency.

UCR's Dr. Cameron Barrows is the lead instructor, covering topics including: climate and earth science; interpretation, communication, and education skills; and tools for engaging communities in action.

We understand that when people have the chance to engage in hands-on discovery of the world around them, they develop a greater sense of science identity. This is true of inquiry into the natural world (e.g., recording temperature measurements) and into the social systems that surround us (e.g., assessing accessibility of cooling centers during extreme heat events). Additionally, professional scientists are increasingly using data gathered by community scientists to aid in local research. Our belief is that community science plays an important role as a research technique, providing teaching and learning opportunities, and applied participation in community problem solving.

Dates: TBA

Fees: TBA

Delivery Mode: TBA

Contact: Colin Barrows palmdesert@ucr.edu 

Course Website & Registration


Organization Description: UCR Palm Desert expands the reach of University of California, Riverside into one of the fastest growing regions of California, the Coachella Valley. Established as a teaching and research center in 2005, UCR Palm Desert is a catalyst for diversification by providing relevant regional research, offering innovative academic programs that attract and retain world class talent to the region, convening and creating partnerships that advance the public good, and enriching the cultural life of the community. 

For more than a decade, UCR’s Palm Desert Center has organized hundreds of lectures, conversations, art shows, movie screenings, and other life-enhancing programs – mostly for free – all while teaching others and conducting renowned research. 

Our mission from the beginning has been to provide cultural and life-long learning offerings to the entire desert community. We continue to be committed to that mission.