Registration is open for first-ever California Naturalist statewide conference

Mar 24, 2014

Detailed conference information is at

The UC California Naturalist Program has opened early registration for its first statewide conference, to be held Oct. 17 to 19 at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove.

The event is designed to bring together the state's certified California Naturalists and others who share their appreciation for California's unrivaled state and national parks, coastal areas, mountains, wetlands, foothills and forests.

The conference will provide a forum for the growing ranks of California Naturalists to discuss new research and developments in natural history, citizen science, global (climate) change, environmental education and nature interpretation.

The California Naturalist program, sponsored by UC Cooperative Extension and modeled after the Master Gardener Program, is recruiting and training those passionate about nature to form a statewide corps of active and educated environmental stewards. Currently there are 500 California Naturalists certified by the program.

California Naturalist operates in partnership with nature preservation, appreciation and conservation organizations or institutions around the state. A love of nature and a desire to share the sentiment prompt people to donate their time to becoming and serving as California Naturalists. Together with the partnering organization, California Naturalists champion the state's unique ecology and engage in stewardship and study of California's natural world.

Early registration for the first-ever California Naturalist conference is $250 for certified naturalists and $325 for all others. Registration fees will go up on July 1. Lodging is separate. Registration fees are higher for those not staying two nights at Asilomar. Conference and Asilomar accommodation reservation forms are available on the California Naturalist Conference website,

Registration includes a full agenda of presentations, poster session, exhibits and receptions. A limited number of scholarships are available to help offset the registration, room and board and travel costs of certified California Naturalists and naturalists-in-training. Make lodging reservations at Asilomar by Sept. 17 for discounted accommodations in the beautiful park setting, increased opportunities to connect with fellow naturalists and all meals.

The California Naturalist Conference begins on Friday, Oct. 17, with optional small-group advanced training programs. Two of the courses, “Drawing birds” and “Nature Drawing” will be taught by acclaimed naturalist, educator and artist John Muir Laws. A complete list of six advanced training sessions is available on the conference website. Advanced training classes are offered for an additional $30 fee and expected to reach their maximum capacity quickly.

The Saturday agenda follows two tracks: “people, parks and diversity” and “global change and biodiversity.” For the keynote session, two renowned naturalist authors will speak on the role of citizen scientists in preventing species extinction.

Mary Ellen Hannibal will discuss the role of citizens in scientific discovery and conservation. She is the author of The Spine of the Continent, which chronicles the efforts of everyday citizens to create a wildlife corridor from the Yukon to Mexico. She is working on a new book to be titled Citizen Scientist.

Anthony Barnosky, a professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley, will talk about strategies for avoiding species extinction in the face of global change. Barnosky is the author of Heatstroke: Nature in the Age of Global Warming. His new book, Dodging Extinction: Power, Food, Money and the Future of Life on Earth, will be published in September.

Saturday's program also includes a reception and a poster session detailing nature research and conservation efforts by California Naturalists around the state.

The conference wraps up on Sunday with optional field trips, offered for a $25 fee. Field trip destinations include the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Fort Ord National Monument, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Complete registration, agenda, presenter, pre- and post-conference event, and facility information are on the California Naturalist Conference webpage, For more information contact Brook Gamble, (707) 744-1424, Ext. 108,

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist