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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.

Registration for the October 2022 State-Wide Conference is LIVE!

Please follow this link and register!


News & Inspiration

Program Updates



News: 2022 UC California Naturalist and Climate Stewards certification courses are being announced on an ongoing bases. Take a course near you!

Registration is now LIVE for our 2022 Statewide Conference and 10th Anniversary Celebration! October 7-9, 2022, North Shore Lake Tahoe.

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Resources: New Participatory science short course. The UC California Naturalist Program and the Center for Community and Citizen Science (UC Davis School of Education) collaborated to produce a three-part, online, asynchronous training that introduces the concepts, benefits and methods of participatory science to extension and education practitioners. 

Resources: Hot off the Press! The third publication in the California Natural History publication series: 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.

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 Resources: CONES: California Online Naturalist Event Series. Enjoy our latest presentation on Celebrating California Biodiversity Day: Biodiversity in Your Spaces with UC California Naturalist program instructors. 

Meet the Community: View the CalNat Story Map and Climate Stewards Story Map. In pictures and words, we seek to share the inspiring stories of California Naturalists and Climate Stewards from around the state. Share Your California Naturalist or Climate Stewards Story here!

Hat Credit_Alicia Torregrosa
Gear: Need some UC California Naturalist gear to outfit your adventures?! Acorn Naturalist is the exclusive vendor of CalNat gear: hats, hoodies, patches, bags & tee shirts. UC Climate Stewards gear TBA. 


Download: California Naturalist Handbook 30% off Flier (UC California Naturalist certification course required text)



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Download: Climate Stewardship: Taking Collective Action to Protect California 30% off Flier (UC Climate Stewards certification course required text)