Visitors sometimes refer to SSU’s Fairfield Osborn Preserve as “pristine”, untouched by human hands. In fact, the preserve’s vegetation communities are deeply informed by pre-colonial land management practices, to the point that many of them could be considered “human made” until Europeans arrived with very different land management approaches. We will explore the landscape through a cultural lens, and also learn about brand-new SSU Historical Ecology Research on the Osborn Preserve.
Suzanne DeCoursey, Center for Environmental Inquiry Education Manager, Sonoma State University
Why are the oak trees on the Osborn Preserve shaped the way they are? Why is the vegetation arranged just so? Many explanations of these phenomena rely solely on “natural” forces; and, of course, natural forces do act on vegetation communities at the preserve. However, a long history of pre-colonial land management has also shaped the woodlands’ and grasslands’ abundance, shape and arrangement. Explore the preserve through a cultural lens, and discover how the land has been informed by its relationship to humans. We will learn how to see evidence of this relationship all around us. We will also learn about new Historical Ecology research performed on the Osborn Preserve by SSU researcher James Peterson.
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 0.5 mile with a 150-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.
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 and snacks for the trail. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more about becoming an Osborn naturalist here.