The very successful Calfornia Naturalist Program is returning to Calaveras Big Trees this coming summer.

The mission of the California Naturalist Program is to foster a diverse community of naturalists and promote stewardship of California’s natural resources through education and service. It introduces Californians to the wonders of our unique ecology and engages the public in the study and stewardship of our natural communities. The program uses a science curriculum, hands-on learning, problem-solving, citizen science and community service to inspire individuals to be stewards of their local resources.

I would like to share the thoughts of two of our last year’s graduates of the Program held at CBTSP. The first graduate is Teddy Jackson, California State interpretive aide, docent and certified California Naturalist. Teddy reported that the program was very worthwhile. “I loved being a docent and talking to visitors about our wonderful Park, but I realized that I needed a broader background to be an effective communicator. The intense course work provided me with a lot of information, but even better, I became interested in a variety of subjects and continued to study and learn on my own after the course was over. In fact, I got a job as an interpretive aide at Big Trees and was able to use many things I learned in the California Naturalist course.”

The second graduate is Mary Hultgren, certified California Naturalist and participant in the CalFlora website. She said, “I greatly enjoyed the California Naturalist program. The quality of speakers was impressive and covered a wide range of topics. The field trips were an excellent way to further explore key topics while also experiencing beautiful spots in nature. It was a great opportunity to meet and become friends with like-minded individuals. The capstone project also provided me with a way to immediately give back and practice my new naturalist skills.”

For those of you who would love to expand your knowledge of California’s unique ecosystems and learn how to share this knowledge with others or participate in projects that enhance natural science, I would encourage you to participate in the upcoming California Naturalist Program to be held in June 2017 at CBTSP. Completion of the course can lead to the earning of four units from U.C. Davis for those of you who are interested. The course will be led by Wendy Harrison, retired California State Park interpreter, and Dexter Hardcastle, certified California Naturalist and docent. If you are interested, contact me at or phone me at 209-736-9053.

By Dexter Hardcastle