Tuleyome’s 2018 Certified California Naturalist course was such a resounding success that the organization will be presenting two courses in 2019, one in the winter and one in the summer.

The Certified California Naturalist courses presented by Tuleyome in partnership with the University of California extension program and the Woodland Public Library, are 10-weeks long (with classes given on ten consecutive Fridays) and include at least three field trips.  The winter course will be offered from February to April in 2019, and the summer course from June to August 2019.

No advanced degrees or previous naturalist experience is required, but the classes are only available to adults (age 21 and up).

The UC California Naturalist Program is designed to introduce Californians to the wonders of our unique ecology and engage the public in study and stewardship of California’s natural communities. The program uses a science curriculum, hands-on learning, problem-solving, citizen science, and community service to instill a deep appreciation for the natural communities of the state and to inspire individuals to become stewards of their local resources.

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One of the favorite exercises in the inaugural naturalist class was “Coyote CSI” during which students were presented with the skeleton of a coyote and asked to determine, based on nothing but the bones in front of them, the coyote’s sex and how it might have died. Next year’s class will have access to two skeletons (one a male and one a female) thanks to a generous donation by Christina Mann a wildlife biologist now based in New Mexico. [Photo by Mary K. Hanson]

Teaching modules for Tuleyome’s courses include: a “Nature Table” for sharing field journals and photos of specimens found in the region; an overview of the chapters of the textbook, along with more targeted information about the local region; guest lecturers (when available); hands-on learning experiences (which may include Tuleyome’s “Coyote CSI”, “Making a Plant Press”, the “Your Naturalist Knowledge Eco-Blitz Game!” and more); and the very popular “Species Identification Modules” which provide students with detailed information about species found right here in our region. To assist with learning, Tuleyome also makes field guides, binoculars, hand lenses and cameras available on-loan to participants who don’t have them or cannot afford them.

The scheduled field trips consist of low-impact walking trips and auto-tours, so they are suitable for all fitness levels.  Impromptu walks are also often provided by the instructors as time permits to give participants even more experience in the field.

Each participant in the course is required to complete a capstone project (of his/her own choosing) to present at graduation. For the 2018 course, capstones presented by the students included the construction of a multi-level bat box, a monitoring study of wild turkeys in Woodland, an aerial drone video of the site for the proposed Woodland science and nature center, a promotional video on trail building, the creation of Burrowing Owls piñatas to use to raise awareness of the birds’ declining populations in our region, and a demonstration of composting for urban gardens, among others.

After graduation, students are expected to maintain their certification by providing 40 hours of volunteer work in the nature-based, conservation or environmental fields each year.  Upon completing the certification requirements, participants are also eligible for four academic credits through UC Davis Extension for an additional nominal fee.

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In this photo you see co-instructor Bill Grabert showing the naturalist students a video on how tectonic plate action formed much of the geology in the state of California. The naturalist course covers the topics of geology, water, plants and animals, among others. [Photo by Mary K. Hanson]

For 2019, Tuleyome is offering four scholarships (two for the winter course and two for the summer course), and preference for those scholarships will be given to local teachers to help them advance their nature-based knowledge and skill sets. Students who come in on a scholarship basis pay only $50 for the full 10-week course rather than the standard tuition.  Scholarships are provided on a first-come first-served basis. Early-bird pricing for the course begins now and ends on September 1, 2018).

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There are a minimum of three scheduled field trips provided for each of Tuleyome’s naturalist courses. Field trips help students to expand their skills and experience nature first-hand. Native and endemic species identification is an integral part of the coursework. [Photo by Mary K. Hanson]

Seating for the classes is very limited, and Tuleyome reports that their 2019 winter course is already filling up. More information about the Certified California Naturalist program, the tuition fees, and how to register for either the winter or summer 2019 course is available on Tuleyome’s website at: http://tuleyome.org/projects/calnat/

Questions about donating to or sponsoring the 2019 Tuleyome naturalist course should be directed to Mary K. Hanson atmhanson@tuleyome.org.

Founded in 2002, Tuleyome is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation organization based in Woodland, CA. The Certified California Naturalist program is just one of many the organization offers to the public.