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Happy Earth Day and National Volunteer Week!

Dear California Naturalist Community,

This week we celebrate Earth Day and Volunteerism, and the role of California Naturalists couldn’t be more important. 

In the 50 years since the first Earth Day, our world has changed significantly. Yet the widespread adoption of environmentally responsible behaviors that put us on path to a more sustainable future remains stubbornly unchanged. One behavior that provides a glimmer of hope and may serve as a bellwether for progress on the environmental front is volunteer service. While the rate of volunteering nationally has grown only slightly from 23% on that first Earth Day to around 25% today, this may be changing. National and regional disasters of the early 2000’s drove some of the highest rates of volunteerism during that period. Today, a global pandemic and economic crisis present similar imperatives to our society and are highlighting parallels to the challenges of global climate change.
California Naturalists are extraordinary volunteers and represent another reason to be optimistic about the future of volunteerism. In 2019, California Naturalists gave over 47,000 hours of volunteer service worth over $1.4 million in value to the state. This was an almost 12% increase over the prior year. Naturalists are critical thinkers, lifelong learners, and are engaged with their communities. These characteristics bode well for continued growth in volunteer service.

Today the rules have changed and we will too. The COVID-19 crisis presents both a challenge and an opportunity for volunteers. Just as physical distancing has moved Earth Day Celebrations online, volunteer service will likely change too. In recognition of this reality, we encourage California Naturalists to explore safe and meaningful alternatives even if they are outside the categories we’ve traditionally highlighted. We are confident that the same sense of responsibility that motivates California Naturalists to protect the health of our environment will inspire those who are able to help protect the health of their community. 

On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, thank you for your efforts to make this planet a better place. With the challenges that are facing so many in our community, we hope you can continue to find ways to connect your knowledge and skills to serve nature, inspire others, and promote healing. We extend our love and gratitude towards every California Naturalist.

Gregory Ira
UC California Naturalist Program

Inside a Naturalist's Backpack
California Naturalists are getting ready to participate in and around their homes for the City Nature Challenge 2020! Brenda Kyle, Pasadena City College certified naturalist, describes what a naturalist should have in their backpack for the City Nature Challenge.

Los Naturalistas de California se alistan para participar adentro de y alrededor de sus hogares para el City Nature Challenge 2020. Brenda Kyle, una Naturalista certificada por Pasadena City College, describe lo que debe tener en su mochila una naturalista para el City Nature Challenge.

More on the CalNat Blog...
The cover of the new book "How to Teach Nature Journaling". It has a sketch in progress of a jay, along with art materials.
The Joy of Discovery
California Naturalists are getting ready to participate in and around their homes for the City Nature Challenge 2020! They told what they are looking forward to seeing in their city this year. Chris Sulots, City College of San Francisco certified naturalist, describes one of his favorite iNaturalist observations from last year's City Nature Challenge in the San Francisco Bay Area.

More on the CalNat Blog...
CalNat Team Update
During the Covid-19 Shelter In Place orders, the CalNat team is working from home assembling guidance, materials, and resources to support instructors as we explore hybrid delivery models of the UC California Naturalist certification course. Our goal is to provide naturalists meaningful ways to learn and explore hyper-locally through this period and into the future and to develop online curriculum that will enhance the amazing existing experience of the CalNat course. Meanwhile, some courses have been postponed, and some opted to be the first to transition to an online delivery model. Our calendar located on the home page of our website will continue to have the most up to date information about upcoming courses.

Community Science to Connect
A Naturalist using his iNaturalist app to photograph a tree
As stay-at-home and lockdown orders disconnect us from people and places, our access to nature and our nature-loving communities has drastically changed. Contributing to citizen and community science projects (CCS) can help us stay connected . Here are some ways to get involved in projects from either your backyard or your computer.

Big Dig Day - June 5, 2020

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