Become an environmental volunteer through California Naturalist Course |

Become an environmental volunteer through California Naturalist Course

Special to the Sun
Walter Clevinger showing bird banding operation to California Naturalist students Jadwiga and Alexis Auckenthaler, with Faerthen Felix, Sagehen Creek Field Station assistant manager.
Courtesy photo |

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — California Naturalist Course students at Sagehen Creek Field Station who let the mountains have them for a day — or a week — will experience transformative learning to join a corps of citizen volunteers.

The open-air classroom and cabins, on a 9-acre experimental forest in the Sagehen Creek Watershed near Truckee is a U.C. Berkeley managed field station and not open to the general public.

Reserved for researchers, educational program participants, and certified California Naturalist volunteers, these individuals explore the meadow and forest wilderness.

The California Naturalist Course was developed by the University of California Cooperative Extension to foster “eco literacy” and a committed corps of volunteer naturalists and citizen scientists. This corps will be trained to take a role in natural resource conservation, education, and restoration, and garner appreciation for and knowledge of California’s ecology and natural history.

“Once in awhile you find a place on earth that becomes your very own. A place undefined. Waiting for you to bring your color, your self. A place untouched, unspoiled, undeveloped. Raw, honest, and haunting. No one, nothing is telling you how to feel or who to be. Let the mountains have you for a day …”

In summer 2014, three versions of the a 40-hour course will combine classroom and field experience in science, problem-solving, communication training and community service: two for adults and a new youth program.

Students learn about regional and California ecosystems and issues from experts in geology, water, plants, wildlife, forests, energy, interpretation and collaboration. With experience as an educator with an emphasis on biology and integrated sciences, Sagehen Creek California Naturalist Coordinator Leslie Smith guides and facilitates classes in each of the three course sessions.


Adult Six-Week Course: June 6- July 19, $350, an introductory weekend followed by weekly meetings. Fee includes: course instruction, registration and certification with California Naturalist

Adult One-Week Immersion Course: July 7-13, $995, a residential course. Fee includes all of the above, plus lodging and meals.

Youth One-Week Immersion Course: June 22-28, $995, a new, adult-supervised residential course for youth entering grades 11 and 12. Fee includes all of the above, plus lodging and meals.

Fees increase by $50 after May 1. Space is limited, so register early.

For more info about Sagehen courses and registration visit The 2014 Sagehen California Naturalist program syllabus for each course and registration form can be downloaded from this page.

You may also contact Sagehen Coordinator Leslie Smith at with questions.

For more information about California Naturalist from UC Extension:


Sagehen Creek Field Station and the Sagehen Experimental Forest are research and teaching facilities of the University of California at Berkeley’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the Berkeley Natural History Museums and the U.C. Natural Reserve System. They are also a member of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.

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