Naturalist Ed Series: Become an Osborn Naturalist!

Learn how to share nature’s secrets with others while exploring the stunning ecosystems of Sonoma Mountain with university faculty and other experts. This Naturalist Educator Series will give you new insights into the natural history of local species and new ideas for sharing your knowledge with children. Join a community working to eradicate Nature Deficit Disorder in the North Bay! Become an Osborn Naturalist and acquire the skills to get “Environmentally Ready.”


University staff, faculty and regional experts


Community members are welcome! School teachers and administrators and encouraged to join as a professional development opportunity. We welcome you to become an Osborn Naturalist. Our program is flexible to fit into your busy schedule. (If you are an SSU Undergraduate student, contact Suzanne DeCoursey at for information about the Student Naturalist Training Program.)

You can become an Osborn Naturalist by completing all three of the following:

  1. Attending three or more Naturalist Ed Series events (see list below). All events are located at Sonoma State University’s Fairfield Osborn Preserve in Penngrove. Event topics vary every semester and focus on native species, ecological communities and our connections to the land. SSU faculty and other local experts take you into the field to explore watersheds, adaptations, scientific inquiry and more.
  2. Attending “Trail Activities & Planning Visits​” event Saturday, February 3 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m). At the “Trail Activities & Planning Visits” event, we learn games to play with children to teach key concepts about our connections with nature.
  3. Leading four or more Friday tours February 16 to March 15 (9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) for 3-5 graders. New naturalists initially team up with experienced naturalists, and then gradually work their way up to co-leading tours with other newly-trained naturalists.

As an Osborn Naturalist, you will be welcomed into a community of volunteers who work on university research projects, attend special naturalist events and hikes, and gain additional access to the Osborn Preserve. Naturalists completing the program receive an “Osborn Naturalist Certificate of Completion.”

Spring 2024 Naturalist Ed Series events:

  • Amphibians of the Osborn Preserve: Sunday, January 28 (10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
  • Geology of Sonoma Mountain: Sunday, January 28 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Trail Activities & Planning Visits (mandatory): Saturday, February 3 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Owls of the Night: Saturday, February 3 (5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.)
  • Plants on Sonoma Mountain in February: Sunday, February 4 (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
  • Human Relationships with the Osborn Preserve: Sunday, February 4 (1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.)

Additional Information for School Districts:

  • This training incorporates Next Generation Science Standards and may qualify as a professional development opportunity for elementary school teachers and/or administrators.
  • Leading school tours is optional.


Must be 18 years or older. No experience required.

Events and tours are at SSU’s Fairfield Osborn Preserve, a 15-minute drive from SSU’s main campus. All events occur rain or shine.

The maximum hike will be 3 miles with a 500-foot elevation gain. With advance notice, we can accommodate participants who can hike a minimum of 1 mile with a 300-foot elevation gain.

Directions will be provided in your registration confirmation email. A sink for handwashing, potable water and restroom are available on site. Please arrive to park in advance of your registered event start time. The preserve gate will be unlocked 20 minutes before the start of each event. You will be asked to sign a liability waiver upon your arrival. No pets or smoking are permitted.

COVID-19 Safety

Do not attend if you test positive for COVID-19 or if you have any symptoms that may be indicative of COVID-19. All SSU updated guidelines can be found here.

What to Bring

Please bring a backpack, water bottle, and snacks for the trail. We recommend layered clothing, covered shoes, a hat, rain gear, sun and insect protection. We recommend you bring binoculars (if you have them), especially for any animal-related events (e.g., amphibians, birds). We have a limited number of binoculars.

How to Sign Up

See registration link below. Each participant should register separately. The last day to register to become an Osborn Naturalist is February 3, 2024.

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
Saturday, February, 3, 2024, 11:00am to 4:00pm