California Naturalist Certification Course

Provided By The University of California and Grossmont College In San Diego County, California 

California Naturalist Certification

The University of California —  California Naturalist Certification promotes environmental literacy and stewardship through discovery and action.  The certification course includes dynamic and engaging content about the natural history of California, hands-on instruction, and focused and intentional observations in local natural environments to develop skills, nurture curiosity, and strengthen your biosphere connections.  Take the University of California certification course at Grossmont College in San Diego -- a partnering institution collaborating with the UC to offer this exciting opportunity.


What is a Naturalist?

A person who observes, studies, and interprets the natural world.  Humans have always been scientists and natural historians by necessity.  Just to survive, we have had to observe, measure, speculate about, and communicate about the world.  Indigenous people lived, and some areas still live, deeply aware of their surrounding ecosystems, relying on observing, knowing, harvesting, and teaching about nature for survival.  Hence they are the quintessential naturalists.  Another well-known naturalist you may have heard of... John Muir.


Why Should I Become a Certified Naturalist?

Certification will prepare and inspire you to become an active citizen scientist and enhance your personal connection with the natural world, as well as provide an opportunity for you to develop tools for collaborative conservation, problem solving, and connections with others to foster a community of practice to support local equity-minded innovations that contribute to the conservation and sustainability of our California environments.

Becoming a Certified California Naturalist will connect you into an ongoing (after certification) network of like-minded individuals that may collectively work on volunteer activities in your community through a "UC Volunteer Portal".  The UC encourages ongoing activity and networking by promoting volunteer hours with annual "pin" awards, and by highlighting CA Naturalist stories on their website.

Successful completion of this course also earns you 3.0-units of Honors California Higher-Education college credit that is fully-transferrable to other California State University and University of California institutions.

Meet Certified California Naturalists and learn about their inspiring stories.


Learn More: The Certification Course at Grossmont College

Are you interested in learning more about earning California Naturalist Certification from the University of California through Grossmont College in the Greater San Diego region?  Awesome!
Explore the sections below to get your questions answered and to learn about next steps.

Meet Your Professor

The Grossmont College California Naturalist Certification course is taught by Judd Curran, full-time Professor of Geography, GIS, Field Studies, and Global Issues in the Earth Sciences Department at Grossmont College.  Learn more about Professor Curran.

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that this online course is taking place throughout the unceded territory of California, home to nearly 200 tribal nations, and potientially beyond California in other unceded territiories of the West.  We acknowledge and honor the original inhabitants of our various regions.  As a student of this course, you are encouraged to learn which tribal nations are indigenous to the area where you are now living.  One source of information you can explore to learn more is the Native Land interactive map

Course Design

To earn certification as a California Naturalist at Grossmont College requires successful completion of Honors Geography of California (Honors Geography 170) -- a co-designed course with the University of California that explores the natural history of California by examining the physical and cultural regions within the state and their relationships.  Emphasis will be on the geographic factors that will broaden your knowledge of the California environment including climate, water, tectonics, natural vegetation, agriculture, industry, economy, and population -- an exciting place-based exploration of the natural environments and socioeconomic connections within the most exceptional state in the Nation.

The course design includes:

Course Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes of the California Naturalist Certification Course include:

Course Achievements For Certification

To earn Certification as a California Naturalist, students must successfully complete all of the following:

(more details about the stewardship project will be provided at the orientation)

Course Timeline and Important Action Items With Dates [Fall 2024]

The next California Naturalist Course offering is a 16-week course in the Fall 2024 semester beginning August 19th, 2024, and ending December 13th, 2024.  During those 16 weeks, there will be regular course content activities online that need to be completed each week (with some flexibility within each week to complement your existing schedule).  In addition, the following in-person activities will be essential to your success:

The timeline for signing up for the course as well as learning the content and completing the requirements of certification are listed below:

Fees and Other Necessities

The Grossmont College Earth Sciences Department is proud to offer an affordable option for participants to earn California Naturalist Certificaiton.  Below is a list of the Fall 2024 fees for the course, certification, and other necessities:

How To Enroll

Want to sign-up for the course?  Awesome!  Whether you are already a Grossmont College or other Community College Student, or you are a first-time student or life-long learner, here are some details to walk you through the process...