Enrollment under way for 2016 UC Calif. Naturalist Program at Sierra Streams Institute | TheUnion.com
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Enrollment under way for 2016 UC Calif. Naturalist Program at Sierra Streams Institute

Enrollment is under way for the 2016 UC California Naturalist Program at Sierra Streams Institute.

The program begins March 15; early enrollment discounts end Feb. 15.

Sierra Streams Institute is partnering with the University of California to host a third year of the California Naturalist Program (calnat.ucanr.edu) in the Sierra foothill region.

The course is a broad overview of California's natural history and introduces students specifically to Sierra foothill ecosystems and watershed processes.

Students will participate in field trips where they will gain experience in phenology studies, some local flora and fauna identification, birding, mammal survey techniques, and forest management.

The 10-week course runs Tuesday evenings, March 15-May 17, and includes four Saturday field trips.

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Sierra Streams Institute is one of almost 30 host sites for the statewide UC program.

"Graduates of the California Naturalist program are adding their knowledge of and enthusiasm for natural history to the wider community," SSI Executive Director Joanne Hild said. "They have gained an understanding of the impact they can have as citizen scientists and educators."

Lectures and field trips led by SSI staff and local guest speakers will give participants the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to educate others and to participate in projects with local environmental organizations. Lecture topics include geology, hydrology, forest ecology, wildlife ecology, and global environmental issues.

Students will participate in field trips where they will gain experience in phenology studies, some local flora and fauna identification, birding, mammal survey techniques, and forest management.

The curriculum is written at the level of a junior college introductory science course.

People with existing background in science and natural history are very welcome to take the course, which provides opportunities for deepening existing knowledge, mentoring classmates, and meeting people who share a fascination with the natural world.

The course also includes a capstone project which provides an important bridge from the classroom to real-world service.

Participants choose a topic of interest to explore in greater depth guided by the expertise of SSI scientists, or people at other local scientific environmental organizations.

California Naturalist is a program developed by the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (which includes UC Cooperative Extension) to foster a committed group of volunteer naturalists and citizen scientists trained and ready to take an active role in natural resource stewardship.

Students who register by Feb. 15 can get the early registration tuition of $395. Thereafter, tuition is $425.

For information, contact Susan Sanford, susan@sierrastreams.org, or go to cnssi.wordpress.com, calnat.ucanr.edu, or sierrastreams.org/canaturalist.