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Posts Tagged: California Naturalist Program

CalNat celebrates virtual class graduates

This is an usual graduation photo for the outdoorsy UC California Naturalist Program, but one that says so much about adapting to the shelter-in-place restrictions to slow the spread of novel coronavirus.

Extra special congratulations are in order for the 2020 Tuleyome graduating class of certified California Naturalists. On Friday, March 20, via Zoom, the California Naturalist Program certified its latest class of California Naturalists while practicing appropriate physical distancing to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.

Students met by video to present their capstone service-learning projects, including topics as diverse as nature journaling with kids, discovering soil types of field trip locations, cataloging game camera photos, unlocking the potentials of Zooniverse, building a new container for composting, and more. 

California Naturalist Program Director Greg Ira remarked to graduates that he is encouraged to see people finding refuge in the natural world in this difficult time. "Who knew that social distancing would bring so many people closer to nature?," Ira said. "How wonderful would it be to see a blossoming of natural history from this event? And who better to help guide these potential naturalists than a newly minted California Naturalist like yourself."

Posted on Wednesday, December 18, 2019 at 12:01 PM
  • Author: Brook Gamble

Project Learning Tree partners with 4-H and CalNat

UC ANR programs collaborate to integrate best practices in environmental learning and stewardship to expand programming and impacts throughout the state

Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an international, award-winning environmental education program, providing professional development training and workshops for teachers and other educators working with youth. A primary goal of PLT is to increase the environmental and scientific literacy of K-12 students in California through inquiry-based teaching and learning.

Transitioning from a 25-year home within CALFIRE, PLT joined UC ANR in 2013 to ensure a more collaborative and sustainable future for program expansion and development. This year, PLT moved administratively under the UC 4-H Youth Development Program, and is being delivered in partnership with 4-H and the California Naturalist Program.

Through this collaborative effort, UC ANR seeks to expand the reach of the PLT network by engaging existing 4-H Youth Development volunteers, staff, youth and partners and California Naturalist partners, while strengthening environmental education programming within these statewide programs. The collaboration also promotes connections and shared learning between naturalists and youth development staff and volunteers.

Currently, the UC ANR PLT program has a network of 20 active facilitators, offering 30 workshops annually, training nearly 2,000 educators who provide experiential learning activities focused on California ecosystems, forests and trees to more than 10,000 young people annually.

The collective impact of this three-dimensional program partnership will serve to both increase ecological sustainability of agriculture, landscapes and forestry to protect California's natural resources and increase environmental literacy, leading to a qualified workforce for California.

Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 2:50 PM
  • Author: Shannon J. Horrillo
  • Author: Sandy Derby
  • Author: Greg Ira
  • Author: Martin Smith
Focus Area Tags: 4-H, Natural Resources

Names in the News

Slattery rejoins UCCE in Butte County 

Chelsey Slattery

Chelsey Slattery rejoined UC Cooperative Extension on Sept. 18, 2017, as an area nutrition, family, and consumer sciences advisor in Butte County.

From 2013 to 2016, Slattery was a UCCE community education specialist, supervising the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties.

From July 2016 to September 2017, Slattery was a program manager at UC Davis Center for Nutrition Schools, where she oversaw a statewide, multi-component, evidence-based, and research-tested nutrition education program. She facilitated training in coordination with the UC CalFresh State Office and UC CalFresh counties throughout the state of California.

Concurrently, Slattery has been working as a per-diem nutrition specialist since 2015 at Shady Creek Outdoor Education Foundation, where she provides oversight and guidance for the Fit Quest program, bringing comprehensive children's wellness programs to Northern California schools. 

Slattery earned an M.S. in organizational leadership from the School of Business Management at National University. She completed a B.S. in exercise physiology/exercise science from CSU Chico.

Based in Oroville, Slattery can be reached at (530) 538-7201 and

From left, Michelle Prysby, ANROSP president, Sabrina Drill and Marisa Rodriguez. Photo by Michele Richards.

California Naturalist wins ANROSP outstanding team award

The California Naturalist Program was named the 2017 Outstanding Team by the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs (ANROSP). Sabrina Drill, associate director of California Naturalist and UC Cooperative Extension advisor, and Marisa Rodriguez, community education specialist with California Naturalist in Southern California, accepted the award on Sept. 21 at the annual ANROSP conference held at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Ore.

Led by director Adina Merenlender, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, the CalNat staff includes Greg Ira, academic coordinator; Brook Gamble, community education specialist; Drill and Rodriguez.

Teamwork is fundamental to the program structure. Since 2012, California Naturalist has certified more than 1,800 Naturalists, who have logged over 100,000 volunteer hours.

The team credits its success to the support and efforts across UC ANR and an extended team of course partners, instructors, statewide partners, educators, scientists, conservation practitioners, and many others who have contributed to the continued adaptive development of the program.

Grant to be inducted into Ag Hall of Fame 

Joe Grant hangs mating disruption dispensers in orchard with Jhalendra Rijal

On Oct. 19, Joseph Grant, UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus, will be among the people inducted into the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame at the 33rd Annual Agricultural Hall of Fame Banquet.

For most of his career, Grant, who retired in 2016, worked as a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor and is known for his research on walnuts, cherries, apples, olives and other tree crops. 

“It's kind of awesome. I mean when you look at the other people that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, I don't consider myself in that class of people so it's humbling,” Grant  said about his induction to the Lodi News-Sentinel.

In addition to Grant, the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame will honor Henry “Skip” Foppiano, Jack and Pati Hamm and Hank Van Exel, and give a posthumous honor to winemaker Robert Gerald Mondavi.

According to the Hall of Fame, it “honors those individuals who have contributed to agriculture and to their community in significant ways.” 

The banquet will be held at the Robert J. Cabral Ag Center in Stockton. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased by calling the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce at (209) 547-2770 or by visiting

USDA-ARS bestows B.Y. Morrison Medal on Zalom

Frank Zalom receives the 2017 B.Y. Morrison Medal from Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the USDA-ARS administrator, at a ceremony in Waikoloa, Hawaii.

Frank Zalom, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology and integrated pest management (IPM) specialist, has been named the recipient of the 2017 B.Y. Morrison Medal by U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS).

Zalom is the first entomologist to receive the coveted award established in 1968, according to Kim Kaplan of the USDA-ARS Office of Communications.

Zalom was singled out for his outstanding work in IPM related to sustainable horticulture production, specifically for “his outstanding leadership and public service in IPM for horticultural crops at the regional, state, national and international levels; his stellar accomplishments in horticultural crops sustainability and pest management and his work ethic, service, courage and integrity, all driven by his insatiable curiosity and passion to solve problems in the horticultural crops landscape,” Kaplan said.

Zalom received the award, co-sponsored by USDA-ARS and the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), on Sept. 21 at the ASHS conference in Waikoloa, Hawaii. He presented the Morrison Memorial Lecture on “Significance of Integrated Pest Management to Sustainable Horticultural Production – Observations and Experiences.”

Read more at // -- Kathy Keatley Garvey


Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 2:09 PM

California Naturalist named ‘program of the year’ by national organization

Sabrina Drill accepted the award for the California Naturalist Program.

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.



Posted on Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 1:18 PM

Project Learning Tree seeks more UCCE collaborators

Project Learning Tree’s pre-service education team brainstormed about training at the Marin Headlands.
As Project Learning Tree enters its third year as part of UCCE, Sandy Derby, PLT state coordinator, sees more opportunities to collaborate with other UCCE programs to strengthen the environmental literacy of students, educators and communities through new models of professional development, citizen science and stewardship engagement.

California PLT operates through a network of more than 200 facilitators, resource professionals and researchers across the state who deliver information and training to community-based organizations, outdoor schools, formal and non-formal educational settings. CAL FIRE, USDA Forest Service, other state agencies and private forestry companies also provide support.

Derby has been working closely with Mike De Lasaux, UCCE forestry advisor and principal investigator on the CAL FIRE grant in Plumas and Sierra counties, who was instrumental in bringing the environmental education program from CAL FIRE to UC. Together they are trying to recruit more resource professionals for PLT programs and to train more teachers, parents and community leaders who work with youth.

PLT Advisory Committee discusses PLT progress and collectively sets goals.
Derby and De Lasaux are working closely with Adina Merenlender, UCCE specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, and Sabrina Drill, UCCE advisor in Los Angeles County, to link their program with the California Naturalist Program's outreach efforts and professional development opportunities.

To help integrate PLT in the Youth, Family and Communities Statewide Program, Shannon Horrillo, 4-H Youth Development director, is taking on Co-PI status with De Lasaux.

“Ideas, efforts and plans have been shaped for PLT to partner with 4-H volunteer and leadership training,” said Derby, whose position is in the Youth, Families and Communities Statewide Program. “We are also working with ANR's research and extension center directors to use the RECs as training hubs to host upcoming PLT events and workshops.” 

Project Learning Tree is an award-winning environmental education of the American Forest Foundation. The primary goal of PLT is to teach students how to think, not what to think about complex environmental issues. Before becoming part of UCCE in 2013, California Project Learning Tree had been delivered through the support of CAL FIRE for 25 years.

For more information, visit To get involved with Project Learning Tree or to share ideas, contact Sandy Derby at

Posted on Friday, January 16, 2015 at 11:48 AM

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