Winter Community Naturalist Program

Learn nature’s secrets and how to share them with others during this 4-day training. You will explore the stunning landscapes of Sonoma Mountain with university faculty and other experts, and practice sharing your new knowledge as you lead tours of SSU's Osborn Preserve. Join a community working to eradicate Nature Deficit Disorder in the North Bay and help others become "Environmentally Ready!"


University staff and regional experts


For each of the 4 training days, we will gather at the SSU Fairfield Osborn Preserve facilities to learn about native species and our connections to the land. Topics will include Native American cultural perspectives, watersheds, aquatic insects, birds and mammals. After a lunch break, we will explore the eight ecological communities of the Osborn preserve with SSU faculty or local experts to experience first-hand what we learn in the classroom. Along the way, we will learn games to play with children to teach key concepts about our connections with nature.

On the 5th day, we will practice leading a tour and sharing with others the things we have learned.  

We encourage you to practice your new knowledge and skills by leading tours for 3rd-5th graders from Cotati and Rohnert Park schools. You will lead your first tours by teaming up with experienced naturalists, and gradually work your way up to leading tours on your own with the support of other naturalists. 

As a Naturalist, you will be welcomed into a community of volunteers who work on university research projects, and attend exclusive events, hikes, and private tours of SSU’s three preserves.


Participants must be available for all four days of training (Thursdays, January 9, 16, 23, and 30 from 10 A.M. - 4 P.M.), one practice tour (Thursday, February 6 from 9:30 A.M. – 2:30 P.M.), and at least five tours for 3rd-5th grade school children (9:30 A.M. – 2:30 P.M on Thursdays, February 13, 20, 27, March 5, 19, or Tuesday, March 10) though all naturalists may not be scheduled for all five of their available tour dates.

No experience is required. You must be at least 18 years old to participate. The maximum hike will be 3 miles with 500 foot elevation gain. With advance notice, we can accommodate participants who can hike a minimum of 1 mile with 300 foot elevation gain. All aspects of the program are rain or shine.

Facilities: All trainings and tours are hosted at the Fairfield Osborn Preserve, a 15-minute drive from Sonoma State's main campus, on Lichau Road in Penngrove. A restroom, potable water and microwave are available on site. You will be asked to sign a liability waiver upon your arrival. No pets or smoking are permitted.

Carpooling may be required for portions of the program and participants will have an opportunity during the program to collaborate with other naturalists about carpooling.

What to Bring

On your first training day, please bring a backpack, water bottle, bag lunch, snack, pen and paper. We recommend layered clothing and to bring a hat, rain gear, and sun and insect protection. All other supplies and materials will be provided.

How to Sign Up

Register at the link below. Each participant should register separately.

There is a $40 materials fee per person. This fee will be collected after you receive your training materials on the first day of training.

About the Center

Sonoma State University’s Center for Environmental Inquiry empowers university students to work with community members on the environmental challenges of the North Bay. Our mission is to create an engaged and environmentally ready society, one where all people have the skills to find solutions to the challenges facing our earth. SSU Preserves are open to everyone engaged in education or research. Reservations are required.

Fairfield Osborn Preserve
Admission Fees
Contact Email
Contact Name
Julie Wittmann
Date & Time Registration Link
Thursday, January, 9, 2020, 10:00am to Thursday, March, 19, 2020, 4:00pm