California Naturalist Program
The UC California Naturalist Program is designed to introduce Californians to the wonders of our unique ecology, to engage and instill in them a deep appreciation for natural communities, and to become stewards of their local resources.
Many other states have similar naturalist programs, but this is the first statewide
program in California. Cuesta College Community Education is offering this 4-unit
college-level course for the first time. The class is composed of 8 Fridays, 9 am
to 3 pm, totaling 40 hours of instruction plus driving time and lunch breaks. Each
Friday starts on campus with a classroom presentation, followed by a field trip. Field
trips are by private vehicle (carpool) and include one mile of walking. The last class
includes short presentations of capstone projects. Assigned readings include the textbook,
The California Naturalist Handbook, and other additional short reading assignments in preparation for field trips.
- Textbook: The California Naturalist Handbook
- 40 hours of instruction in the classroom and on field trips
- Using a field notebook and journal
- Participation in a class iNaturalist Project
- Participation in a Citizen Science Project
- A capstone project presentation
- Associated readings and homework
Highlighted Field Trips:
- Cuesta College Campus
- SLO Botanical Garden
- Morro Bay National Estuary
- North Coast forests and grasslands
- SLO Wastewater treatment plant
- PG&E Energy Education Center
Upon completion of the course, students receive a certification and pin confirming their role as a California Naturalist. Participants are eligible for four academic credits through UC Extension for an additional fee.
Subjects covered include California ecology, geology, plant communities, forest/woodland and range resources and management wildlife, communication and interpretation, citizen science, energy and global environmental issues.
This class is ideal for adults who want to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of California’s natural history in a structured 8-week program. It’s a great resume-builder for people seeking jobs in environmental fields. It offers four units of transferable UC credit for students. And it’s a fun and enjoyable way to see many unique areas in San Luis Obispo County.
Participants who record a minimum of 40 hours in the California Naturalist volunteer portal in a calendar year are eligible to receive an annual service pin. California Naturalists learn about opportunities to volunteer with federal, state, local and nonprofit organizations.
Learn more about the California Naturalist program.