More than just a pretty landscape, Calaveras Big Trees State Park has long been a place where people can learn about the wonders of our natural environment. It was a perfect fit, therefore, to bring the California Naturalist Program to Big Trees. During the month of June 2017, 25 students completed the California Naturalist Course at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. These industrious students completed 40 hours of class, immersing themselves in the geology, hydrology, wildlife, forests, climate, and ecology of California, with a focus on the Sierra Nevada. They deepened their learning with readings, hands-on activities and field trips throughout the park.
In addition to the science curriculum, the students completed a team citizen science project, honed their observation skills using the iNaturalist app, and submitted individual capstone projects.
According to attendee George Leong, taking this course meant that “My nature eyes got so much better.”
Wendy Harrison and Dexter Hardcastle led the course, bringing in professors and experts for each content area. The Calaveras Big Trees Association was a key sponsor of this program, working in partnership with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
Stewardship, Discovery, Action
The graduates are now part of a larger, growing community of California Naturalists, who continue to learn about and protect our unique and precious natural resources and public lands. Volunteerism is a key focus of all California Naturalists, and the new graduates will be sharing their passion for nature at Big Trees and throughout California.