The California Chaparral Institute's Chaparral Naturalist Certification program strives to inspire a love for nature by creating a diverse community of nature advocates AND to help the public better understand and appreciate the chaparral, California's most extensive plant community. Our program is unique in that it focuses on chaparral and helping you communicate your knowledge in more effective ways.
However, training people in natural history, while a benefit, is just one goal of the course. We also want to create permanent advocates for nature so that all who take the course are willing to inspire anyone they may encounter. Rather than passively listening to experts, the course is organized in small, interactive groups that participate in collaborative learning experiences designed to enhance the learning process, foster friendships, and encourage volunteering in the newfound community of nature advocates.
We strongly believe those who do the teaching do the learning. So be prepared to actively participate in the adventure.
Once you have learned how to engage and inspire others in nature, you'll be encouraged to share your connection with the natural world with others. Our training can also help you to become volunteers with one of our partners such as the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve and the San Dieguito River Park.
A key goal of Chaparral Naturalists is to expand the demographic of those participating in naturalist and docent training programs. The Chaparral Naturalist program intends to change this by recruiting a wide diversity of students, post-graduates, and families from throughout the community. With the collaborative model the program will employ, we'll leverage the environmental wisdom of participating elders to inspire younger generations. We believe the environmental community can no longer just talk to itself, but must reach out to new groups to ensure nature continues to have a voice in the future.
Our long term vision is to create a self sustaining Chaparral Naturalist program that will be organized around each watershed in California that will help us achieve our four main goals:
1. Care. Establish personal connections and a sense of care for nature, specifically the chaparral. 2. Engage. Encouraging the use of engaging, meaningful interpretation in environmental education (instead of lecturing). 3. Diversity. Expanding and diversifying our audience. 4. Permanence. Inspiring those we share our enthusiasm with to become permanent Nature Advocates.
Chaparral Naturalists and environmental education leaders at a recent retreat.
OUR UPCOMING 2017 CHAPARRAL NATURALIST CLASS
WHEN? Eight Saturday mornings, February 25 - April 8, 2017, 9AM to 1:00PM (no class April 15) and a final, all day field trip on April 22. Attendance to all eight classes will be required to receive your Chaparral Naturalist Certification. Make-up dates may be available.
WHERE? Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, 8833 Harmony Grove Road, Escondido, CA 92029
WHAT? We will be creating an interactive naturalist training adventure different from any other you have encountered. Instead of the traditional "sit and get" (sitting at a desk and passively listening), Chaparral Naturalists will actively engage in learning about links and patterns between plants, animals, climate, and fire (not just parts and pieces). Most importantly participants will learn how to inspire a love for nature!
WHY? To become a coach for nature at the Elfin Forest or elsewhere. Chaparral Naturalists will learn how to guide others through engaging activities along the trail with the ultimate goal of inspiring them to inspire more people to love nature. Inspire Others to Inspire.
COST? We ask for a $50 donation to help us cover printing, coffee, and bagels :) If this is really beyond your budget, let us know and we will try to come up with a creative way to help you.
WHO? Those who love nature and want to learn how to inspire others to feel the same, 16 and over.
HOW? Applications are now closed for the 2017 class. If you would like to be added to our list for next year, please send us an email.
Chaparral Naturalist Class 2017 Schedule 8 week course, Saturdays, February 25 - April 22 (No class April 15)
Week 2 Saturday, March 4, 2017 Chaparral Community – Learn concepts that link all species together within the chaparral Topics Discussed: Animals, Reptiles, and Arthropod communities of the Chaparral
Week 3 Saturday, March 11, 2017 Chaparral Sex Education – Links and patterns are used to explain the life of plants in the chaparral Topics Discussed: Plant Sex, Flower Structure, Plant Evolution, Plant Identification
Week 4 Saturday, March 18, 2017 Chaparral Evolution – Evolutionary concepts applied to the chaparral Topics Discussed: Evolutionary Journey, Competition and Niche, and Speciation
Week 5 Saturday, March 25, 2017 Fire in the Chaparral – The role fire plays in chaparral ecology Topics Discussed: Shrub Responses to Fire, Fire Frequency, and Truths About Fire
Week 6 Saturday, April 1, 2017 Chaparral Ethics – Using environmental ethics to protect the chaparral Topics Discussed:Utilitarianism, Cognitive Dissonance, and Connecting People to Nature Through Story Telling
Week 7 Saturday, April 8, 2017 Chaparral Geology – Geology plays a role in where and how the chaparral grows Topics Discussed: Endemic Species, Soil Types, and The Relationship of Plants to the Geology
No Class April 15
Week 8 Saturday, April 22, 2017 Chaparral/Geology Field Trip! An all day class 9-4 discussing and exploring San Diego’s amazing geology and the plants that grow in all that dirt
Please see our recommended book page for books that will provide background and additional inspiration for your Chaparral Naturalist adventure.
An essential part of our program is to create lifelong Nature Advocates who strive to inspire others to love and help protect nature as well. As a symbol or talisman of that effort, Chaparral Naturalists pass along a #greenchaparral marble to those they meet who also express a sincere passion for the natural environment and the creative spirit it fosters. The marble is shared with the understanding that the recipient will pass it along to another who communicates a willingness to become a yet another Nature Advocate.
Watershed Passport Program
The Passport Program inspires a love for nature by creating a community of Nature Advocates. To do so, the Passport invites participants to explore their local watershed and experience many of its exciting outdoor opportunities through an interactive guide which connects them all.
Made available at local parks and nature centers, the 8-page Passport provides 1) a number of engaging natural history activities that can be enjoyed during an outdoor experience, 2) a list of participating programs, nature walks, and volunteer projects within the watershed, and 3) an invitation to extend one’s knowledge of nature by enrolling in a Chaparral Naturalist Certification course.
The initial Passport Program is being designed for Escondido's watersheds which include Escondido Creek and a large portion of the San Dieguito River. It will be released Fall 2016.
The program is designed for adults and its design can be used in other watersheds throughout the state. If you or your organization is interested in developing a similar program, please contact us! We will be more than happy to help.
Please see our other Nature Education pages for additional information on other programs