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About the Program


A statewide program of the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the UC California Naturalist Program is designed to introduce Californians to the wonders of our unique ecology, engage the public in study and stewardship of California’s natural communities, and increase community and ecosystem resilience. 

The mission of the UC California Naturalist Program is to foster a diverse community of naturalists and promote stewardship of California's natural resources through education and service.

The UC California Naturalist Program is the hub of a collective impact network. We offer two certification courses: Climate Stewards (new in 2021) and California Naturalist (established in 2012). We work with over 56 partner organizations that deliver the courses and have certified a community of over 3800 participants. California Naturalists and Climate Stewards perform service in the areas of education and interpretation, stewardship, participatory science, environmental program support, community resilience, and environmental justice. To date, certified California Naturalists and Climate Stewards have volunteered over 230,000 hours, worth over $6.2 million dollars, in 51 of 58 counties in California.

The California Naturalist Program promotes environmental literacy and stewardship through discovery and action. To become a certified California Naturalist or Climate Steward, participants need to enroll in a 40+ hour course with one of our partner organizations

The California Naturalist Program gives Californians the tools and network to help protect and preserve our unique and diverse wildlife, habitats, river, lakes and coastal resources, wild and urban alike, and increase ecosystem and community resilience.

Climate Stewards Certification

Courses throughout California combine classroom, online, and field experiences in earth systems, water, energy and agriculture; as well as communication training, citizen science, and community service opportunities. 

The training includes an overview of state and local climate policies so that Climate Stewards is a catalyst for public participation in California’s climate change initiatives.

Goals of the new Climate Stewards certification course include:

  • Increase access to up-to-date and locally relevant climate science to improve climate literacy through a UC certification course for the public.
  • Establish a community of practice focused on stewardship, communication, and community solutions to advance resiliency.
  • Build statewide support for and capacity to effectively advance state and local climate goals.

After certification, UC Climate Stewards are encouraged to volunteer in activities ranging from community and citizen science, land and water stewardship, civic engagement, and education and interpretation activities.

California Naturalist Certification

Courses combine 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 credits through UC Davis Extension for an additional nominal fee.

Subjects covered in each California Naturalist course include:

  • ecology
  • geology
  • plant communities
  • forest/woodland and range resources and management
  • wildlife
  • communication and interpretation
  • citizen science
  • energy and global environmental issues
  • and more...

Once certified, Naturalists have opportunities to volunteer all over the state with various federal, state, local and non profit organizations.

To become a certified California Naturalist or Climate Steward, participants need to enroll in a 40+ hour course with one of our partner organizations.