Naturalist Ed Series: Explorations with a Naturalist

Curiosity in nature supports a deeper understanding of the natural world. Join us to discover, celebrate and develop the free spirit of nature inquiry on Sonoma Mountain. We will explore Osborn Preserve’s hidden secrets through the process of inquiry. What various colors of fungus can be found, what are slime molds, where are amphibians hiding, what senses can we use to observe plants? Learn how outdoor inquiry can transform your daily life, as well as how it can give children hands-on experience of what they study in school.


Nancy Kelley is an Osborn Naturalist and retired local retired public elementary school teacher who taught for 25 years. Nancy has been a district mentor, teacher trainer and integral in the development of SSU’s Women’s Studies which included board development and instruction. Nancy is highly-experienced leading nature hikes for children and naturalists-in-training throughout Sonoma County. Nancy mentors countless SSU student and community member naturalists, “training the trainers” for a new environmentally ready generation.


Inquiry is a learning approach involving the natural world that leads to asking questions, making discoveries and testing those discoveries. We will travel through Osborn Preserve to find and observe a wide diversity of living things including fungus, amphibians, plants and more! Along the way, we will participate in explorations and learn the types of questions naturalist educators can ask children to support their discoveries in nature. Please bring a charged cell phone with the iNaturalist app (optional).

This event is part of the Naturalist Ed Series. The event within this Series allows participants the option to become Osborn Naturalists to address nature-deficit disorder. No experience required. Must be age 18 years or older.


The events within the Naturalist Ed Series are held outdoors at SSU’s Fairfield Osborn Preserve, a 15-minute drive from SSU’s main campus. All events occur rain or shine.

The maximum hike is 1 mile with a 250-foot elevation gain. 

Directions are provided in your registration confirmation email. A sink for handwashing, potable water and restrooms are available on site. Please arrive to park in advance of the registered event start time. The preserve gate will be unlocked 15 minutes before the event start time. You will be asked to sign a liability waiver upon your arrival. We will meet outside at the Osborn Education Center which is across the footbridge on the east side of the parking lot. No pets or smoking are permitted.

Parking is limited so please consider carpooling, and let us know if you plan to do this so we can open more registration spots accordingly.

COVID-19 Safety

At registration, you will be asked if you can provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. All staff are vaccinated. Do not attend if you test positive for COVID-19 or if you have any symptoms that may be indicative of COVID-19, even if you are vaccinated. You are highly encouraged to properly wear a mask when indoors (e.g., education center at Osborn Preserve, carpooling to or from the preserve), even if you are vaccinated. Bandanas, gaiters or vented masks are not suitable. We will spend all of our time outdoors where social distancing is possible. All SSU updated guidelines can be found here.

What to Bring

Please bring a suitable mask, backpack, water bottle, snacks for the trai, and charged cell phone with the iNaturalist app (optional). We recommend layered clothing, covered shoes, a hat, rain gear, sun and insect protection and hand sanitizer. 

How to Sign Up

See registration link below. Each participant should register separately.

This event is free of charge.

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.

Osborn Naturalists

We offer a Naturalist Ed Series to become an Osborn Naturalist. Please contact Julie Wittmann for more information about how to become an Osborn Naturalist at You can also learn more about becoming an Osborn naturalist here.

Fairfield Osborn Preserve
Admission Fees
Contact Email
Contact Phone
Contact Name
Kerry Wininger
Date & Time Registration Link
Sunday, January, 29, 2023, 1:30pm to 4:30pm