Sonoma Sun Event Calendar

California Naturalist Program offered at Sugarloaf Sugarloaf State Park

Monday September 19th -

Sonoma Ecology Center is teaming up with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources to offer an accredited eight-week California Naturalist course at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park this fall. Designed to turn local nature lovers into trained California Naturalists, this will be the first time this rigorous U.C.-approved course will be offered at Sugarloaf. Naturalists join an elite and venerable group, acting as knowledge keepers, park docents and as key leaders in the “citizen science” movement helping to shape California’s future.

The course results in real college credits – but even better, it turns nature lovers into certified graduates of the U.C. California Naturalist Program, making them valuable authorities on California’s plants and animals, geology and soils, water, climate, biodiversity and much more.

The course, held Monday evenings from 6 to 8:30 p.m., will run from Sept. 19 to Nov. 19 at Sugarloaf Park’s Robert Ferguson Observatory. Speakers will include professors from local colleges and universities and experts from Cal Academy and the Sonoma Ecology Center. The course also will include four five-hour fieldtrips lead by field experts in and around Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. As their final project for the program, each naturalist-in-training will complete an eight-hour volunteer service learning project for a community organization. Participants of this course will graduate with a specialized knowledge of the oak woodlands indigenous to the Mayacamas Mountains.

“We are thrilled to be offering the California Naturalist certification training this fall as an expansion of our education programming at Sugarloaf,” said Sonoma Ecology Center educator Tony Passantino. “Bringing an accredited college course to this state park at the heart of Sonoma and Napa valleys is a rare opportunity.”

To sign up for the first-ever Fall 2016 California Naturalist Program at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, go to For more information, call or write Tony Passantino at or 996-0712, ext. 124. The course costs $370 (or $399 after Aug. 19) and is limited to 25 participants. Limited scholarships available.