California Naturalist
University of California
California Naturalist

About the program

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The UC California Naturalist Program is designed to introduce Californians to the wonders of our unique ecology and engage the public in study and stewardship of California’s natural communities. The California Naturalist program uses a science curriculum, hands-on learning, problem-solving, and community service to instill a deep appreciation for the natural communities of the state and to inspire individuals to become stewards of their local resources. 

The California Naturalist Program promotes environmental literacy and stewardship through discovery and action. Many other states have similar naturalist programs, but this is the first statewide program in California. To become a certified California Naturalist, you will need to enroll in a 40+ hour course with one of our partner organizations

Aspiring Naturalists enroll in a 40 hour course that combines classroom and field experience in science, problem-solving, communication training and community service. Students are taught by an instructor and team of experts who are affiliated with a local nature-based center or natural resource focused agency. Upon completing certification requirements, participants are eligible for four academic through UC Davis Extension for an additional nominal fee.

Subjects covered include:

  • ecology
  • geology
  • plant communities
  • interpretation
  • wildlife
  • and others

California Naturalist provides hands on instruction and exposure to real world environmental projects designed to inspire adults to become active citizen scientists and enhance their personal connection with the natural world. In addition to the course,

California Naturalists will be encouraged to complete 40 hours of volunteer service in one of four areas: program support, interpretation/education, restoration/conservation and/or citizen science.

Once you are certified, you will have opportunities to volunteer all over the state with various federal, state, local and non profit organizations. Naturalists can get involved in many different kinds of activities:

  • Scientific research—plant identification or data collection
  • Environmental monitoring—bird counts, stream sampling, invasive species monitoring
  • Restoration or conservation plans—seed collection, native plant propagation and planting
  • Education—developing signs or brochures or leading nature hikes to help make science more accessible to others through support for the Naturalist Program, or other outreach activities.

The California Naturalist Program will allow Californians to help protect and preserve our unique and diverse wildlife, habitats, river, lakes and coastal resources, wild and urban alike.

Webmaster Email: canaturalist@ucanr.edu