UC California Naturalist Program
Being a naturalist is at its core a sense of place. It is a walk in a forest, across a desert dune, or exploring a tidepool, acquainting yourself or reacquainting yourself with new and old friends, those plants, lizards, and starfish. By calling out to them by name they become friends. In that friendship is a deep understanding that you are part of those communities of plants, animals, and fungi. You see yourself as part of, not apart from, the natural world around you. It is not just taking a class; it is a life-long passion. When you visit someplace new, as a naturalist your curiosity is piqued; who are these new trees, grasses, birds, and beetles? Your sense of place broadens, and you become part of that larger world.
Being a naturalist also means “paying it forward”, taking your gained knowledge and passing it along to others, and in doing so developing a community of naturalists who are both curious about nature, and who also want that nature to be there for generations to come. One of the many joys of being a naturalist is finding like-minded people to go into and experience nature with. You learn from each other and share in the exuberance of learning and diving deeper into the complexities of nature. Just like being a parent or a companion and the support and protection you willingly offer your family and friends, being a naturalist develops a similar sense for safeguarding nature. What you can accomplish alone, you can multiply by the number of naturalists in your community. The larger the community of naturalists, the more positive outcomes will follow. The more nature will be protected.
Through a network of an ever-increasing community of naturalists, opportunities for paying it forward will arise that you might never be aware of on your own. Naturalists are more and more playing critically important roles through community science efforts. With nature being challenged by human activities, having real data that documents what if any changes are resulting from our activities is essential. What is changing, and where we can find resilience to the degradation of nature are vital pieces of information for developing solutions. Community scientists are becoming so important to that search. Take any opportunity you can to create and be part of a larger community of naturalists, to be part of a larger sense of place.
- Dr. Cameron Barrows, CalNat Program Lead Scientist.
News & Inspiration
California Naturalist and Climate Stewards: certification course calendar
Registration is now LIVE for our 2022 Statewide Conference and 10th Anniversary Celebration! October 7-9, 2022, North Shore Lake Tahoe.
Natural History of the California Current by Christopher Pincetich and Sabrina Drill. This series includes overviews of specific bioregions and topics to help sharpen the reader's scientific understanding of California's ecosystems and environmental stewardship.