California Naturalist named ‘program of the year’ by national organization
The UC ANR California Naturalist program received a national honor in September, being named the “program of the year” by the Alliance for Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs (ANROSP). California Naturalist associate director Sabrina Drill, the UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, attended the ANROSP annual conference in Tennessee to accept the award and lead a roundtable discussion on increasing diversity through collaborations with community colleges and conservation corps.
The program of the year award comes three years after California Naturalist began certifying naturalists and one year after its status in UC ANR was elevated to statewide program.
“When we were recognized by UC ANR as a statewide program, we arrived in the sphere of Cooperative Extension in California, and now, with this award, we've arrived at the national level,” Drill said.
In recent months, the California Naturalist program has posted a number of achievements:
- The organization passed the milestone of 1,000 certified naturalists, who have, combined, logged more than 30,000 volunteer hours.
- The number of partner organizations has grown from five in 2012 to 28 in 2015.
- The first biennial statewide California Naturalist conference attracted 200 participants in 2014. The second conference is scheduled for September 2016.
- A new academic coordinator, Gregory Ira, was hired. He is based at the UC ANR facility in Davis.
- A new California Naturalist online portal was established to log volunteer hours and serve as a communication and collaboration tool.
- New bio-region modules are being written to accompany the California Naturalist Handbook, a textbook for certification classes.
- A comprehensive instructor training manual has been completed.
In addition to Drill and Ira, the California Naturalist program staff includes director Adina Merenlender, UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist based at the UC ANR Hopland Research and Extension Center; community educational specialists Brook Gamble and Shayna Foreman, based in Hopland and at the UC ANR South Coast Research and Extension Center, respectively; and business manager Meggin Lewman, based in Hopland.