- (Public Value) UCANR: Promoting healthy people and communities
- Author: Gregory Ira
For over a week, we've witnessed the pain, helplessness, grief, and anger that comes from the ongoing discrimination, bigotry and violence of systemic racism and environmental injustice. From the disproportionate impact of COVID-19, to the racist behavior against a black birder in Central Park, to the killing of George Floyd, these are just recent manifestations of the ongoing trauma that is a reality for people of color. While it is not within the power of a single organization to eliminate racism, it is the moral obligation of every organization to recognize and acknowledge it: Black Lives Matter.
The mission of the California Naturalist Program is to foster a diverse community of naturalists and promote stewardship of California's natural resources through education and service. Fulfilling that mission involves eliminating barriers to participation, expanding the relevance of our program content to address environmental justice, building strategic community partnerships, making the healing powers of nature safe and welcoming for everyone, and even acknowledging the colonial roots of the field of natural history itself. But, we know even that is not enough. To be completely true to our mission, our principles of community, and our anti-discrimination policy, we must also show solidarity when the situation demands it. Solidarity eliminates the ambiguity of silence and amplifies the voices of those straining to say: “I can't breathe.”
Together with our naturalists, our community partners around the state, the leadership of UC ANR, the entire UC system, we stand with those communities seeking peaceful change, the fair administration of justice, and a safe and inclusive environment. As UC ANR Vice President, Glenda Humiston clearly stated: “To those within our community who have suffered from such bigotry, we stand with you and with everyone who stands against racism, racial profiling, police brutality and injustice.”
- Author: Gregory Ira
Gratitude, like all good things, is cultivated. For much of the year, we are running from one deadline to the next and the time for reflection is scarce. Thanksgiving is one of the few times during the year when the conditions and context put gratitude squarely on our table and it feels delightful. But, what if there was a way for us to experience that same feeling of gratitude all year long?
Can our work as California Naturalists help us rediscover gratitude with greater intention? As naturalists we share a few traits that might help us. We value the natural world, we seek to observe it, we reflect on our experiences, and we often share our wonder and discoveries with others. I would argue that these are also important elements of gratitude – especially sharing.
For many California Naturalists, sharing comes in the form of volunteer service. If we reframe this service as not simply giving time, but giving thanks, we can cultivate gratitude. Whether you volunteer as a California Naturalist, share your discoveries and experiences with friends and family, or give to a cause that has special meaning to you, you are not only providing a service to others, you expressing gratitude and extending the best tradition from the third Thursday of November.
On behalf of our entire CalNat team, please accept our most sincere thanks for making the UC California Naturalist Program a part of your world.
- Author: Sarah Angulo
The days grow shorter and the temperatures are gradually getting cooler – fall is approaching, and that means it's time for school to start! Teachers are getting their classrooms ready and students are getting fresh supplies to head back to school. For our fall California Naturalist courses, heading into the classroom has a whole different meaning.
The classroom sessions are just a piece of the whole learning experience in a UC California Naturalist course. Take it from this West Valley College certified Naturalist, who explained, “The content presented in class before the field trip helped students understand what they were getting ready to study during our week long trip. The content during the trip helped us expand on the foundation we were left with before the trip. Interacting with others helped me out by talking to people who have visited the areas that we were in before the trip.”
The combination of classroom lectures, field trips, volunteer projects, class citizen science projects, use of iNaturalist, and interacting with guest speakers and fellow students is a unique learning experience that many naturalists describe as “transformational.” This fall, you can join the community of 4,000 people across the state who have become certified naturalists. With California's wonderful diversity in terms of both its nature and its people, there's a course that's right for everyone. We have courses taking place in the Lake Tahoe Basin, along the banks of the American River, up in the redwood forest, amidst the Coast Range's golden hills, adjacent to a National Seashore, in the coastal chaparral, right in the middle of urban space, and more! Find a fall course near you here.
Every teacher undergoes training before entering the indoor or outdoor classroom, and our California Naturalist instructors are no exception. This fall, instructors from potential new course locations have an opportunity to sign up for our instructor training. Taking place at Elkus Ranch November 13 & 14, this two day training includes a special opportunity for both new and continuing instructors.
November 13 is an introduction for organizations who have completed a partner interest form and have initiated plans together with the California Naturalist Program Team to offer the course to their community, volunteers, or staff. The workshop is one required step in the application process to partner with the program. Additional instructor team members are welcome to attend, as well as current instructors who have not undergone the instructor training in 3 or more years to receive updated information on administrative processes.
November 14 is a UCANR Fire Education Workshop- an advanced training professional development opportunity specifically for Project Learning Tree (PLT) instructors working with 4-H or CalNat to enhance their content knowledge, pedagogical skills, and use of technology in the design and delivery of fire education programs in California. The workshop will expose participants to all three elements of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge and include opening and closing presentations providing additional context to the challenges of fire education in California and the role that PLT, 4-H, and the California Naturalist Program play in addressing them. The overarching goal of the workshop is to enhance the capacity of the instructors to deliver high quality programming to their respective audiences.
This training is geared for existing PLT instructors (educators and facilitators) from the California Naturalist program and 4-H program who have or plan to integrate a PLT workshop into their program, CalNat instructors attending the ongoing Northern California Instructor Training, and other interested 4-H participants. Those not currently affiliated with the PLT, CalNat, or 4-H may be considered if space is available.