Young Women in Herpetology

Less than one third of herpetologists around the world are women and yet two of them are hard at work right here in the North Bay. Join us to learn from them about the important role of these animals in the health of our ecosystem. We will work with them as we go in search of the reptiles and amphibians that live on the Galbreath Wildlands Preserve in southern Mendocino County.  With experience in public education, research, animal care and academia, they will share their knowledge and passion for these fascinating vertebrates. 


  • Victoria Brunal is an SSU graduate student studying endangered California tiger salamanders, and the graduate assistant at Fairfield Osborn Preserve’s Student Naturalist program.
  • Isabelle Barnes is curator of the Petaluma Wildlife Museum with a focus on herpetology within her main interest of wildlife conservation. She also does educational outreach with Classroom Safari.


We will explore the Galbreath Wildlands Preserve, looking for native reptiles and amphibians to observe and learn about. Some emphasis will be placed on research being conducted by SSU on the California tiger salamander, a threatened species, not found in Mendocino, but on the Santa Rosa Plain in Sonoma County. As we drive along the preserve's rugged roads, we will stop to learn about the world of reptiles and amphibians from Victoria and Isabelle from their different perspectives:  one as a research scientist and the other as an educator. We will look in ponds and streams for newts and other salamanders, and in rock outcroppings and other habitats for reptiles. 


We will be driving two miles into the preserve. We will be hiking up to 1 mile with approximately 100 foot elevation gain, at times we over uneven ground.

We will meet at 10:00 a.m. in the parking lot of the Yorkville Post Office, 25400 Highway 128, Yorkville, between Cloverdale and Boonville. Parking at the post office is limited so please consider carpooling. At the post office, we will form carpools in 4- or all-wheel drive vehicles to caravan to, and traverse, the preserve. Masks are required. 

Participants must sign a waiver upon arrival. All minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian, or a group leader who can legally take on that role (e.g., Girl Scout group). No strollers are permitted due to unpaved trails. Pets and smoking are not permitted.

No previous experience or knowledge is required. There is a restroom available at the Galbreath Preserve, but no drinking water. Stormy weather will cause us to reschedule.

COVID-19 Safety

At registration, you will be asked if you can provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination and booster. All staff are fully vaccinated and boosted. 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. SSU requires that you must properly wear a mask when indoors (e.g., carpooling), even if you are vaccinated. Bandanas, gaiters or vented masks are not suitable. We will spend our time outdoors where social distancing is possible. All SSU updated guidelines can be found here.

What to Bring

Please bring a suitable mask, sun and insect protection, rain gear, water, lunch and shoes to hike in. Layered clothing and long pants are recommended. 

How to Sign Up

Register at the link below. Please have each person attending register separately.

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.

Galbreath Wildlands Preserve
Admission Fees
Contact Email
Contact Phone
Contact Name
Margot Rawlins
Date & Time Registration Link
Friday, May, 6, 2022, 10:00am to 2:00pm