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First Ever Graduates of UC Berkeley's California Naturalist Certification Talk about Their Motivation

posted Mar 3, 2017, 9:45 PM by Diana Rohini LaVigne
By Diana Rohini LaVigne (UC Berkeley- The Jepson Globe)

*Link: http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/jeps/globe/Globe2015_Vol25No1.pdf

What do a former environmental lawyer, belly dancer, high school teacher, marathoner, choir singer, theater professional, journalist, surveyor, webmaster, wildlife biologist, Peace Corps alumna, filmmaker, microbiologist, and an actor have in common? They were all members of the California Naturalist training program, sponsored by the Jepson Herbarium. The Jepson Herbarium at UC Berkeley held its first course for the new UC California Naturalist training that officially granted certification to 20 naturalists on November 6, 2014. 

The UC California Naturalist Program promotes environmental literacy and stewardship through discovery and action. The Jepson Herbarium’s California Naturalist classes met weekly at UC Berkeley and hosted several field trips both during class and on the weekend. Aspiring Naturalists applied for admission into the program that entailed a 40-hour course that combined classroom and field experience in science, problem solving, communication training, and community service to explore the unique ecology and natural history of the Bay Area. In addition to the coursework, California Naturalists participated in 40 hours of volunteer service in one of four areas: program support, interpretation/education, restoration/conservation, and/or citizen science. UC academic credits were available to all students in the class. 

Graduates of the program had a wide variety of reasons to join the course; all had one common thread. They all aspire to motivate, impact, and educate others in life sciences, citizen science, and their role within nature in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was their personal stories that told the real story of this diverse and fascinating group of people that came together to celebrate, study, and experience nature’s greatest gifts. 

“I want to help my students to develop their own environmental consciousness.” Amber Lancaster, San Francisco, High School Science Teacher, June Jordan School for Equity 

“I want to share an appreciation of nature with children and visitors to Devil’s Slide Trail Park.” Kathy Gesley, Palo Alto, Trail Ambassador 

“I want to inspire youth to carry on the task of protecting the earth’s living creatures.” Diana Rohini LaVigne, San Francisco, Chief Communications Officer, Life Chiropractic College West 

“I want to help others discover the value of natural spaces and inspire interest in their conservation.” Melissa Hong, Alameda, User Experience Designer 

“I want to help people appreciate the world in a whole new way.” Adrian Cotter, Oakland, Cocurator San Francisco Natural History Series 

“I want to do a better job as a docent at the botanic gardens where I volunteer and perhaps branch out a bit beyond botany.” Barbara Steuart, Berkeley, Volunteer Docent, UC Berkeley Botanic Garden, East Bay Regional Parks, Tilden Botanic Garden 

“I want to create engaging, fun, and interactive digital multimedia that uses the best of storytelling, science, and outdoor exploration to spark a new generation of nature stewards.” Catherine Lynn Butler, Richmond Heights, Chief Storyteller, Greenexus LLC 

“I want to continue with citizen science projects, future bioblitzes, and, perhaps, bring CA Naturalist activities to the school where I currently volunteer.” Patricia Denn, Oakland, happily retired Clinical Microbiologist 

“I want to help others to realize and embrace our integral relation to the natural environment, inspiring environmental consciousness and stewardship.” Shawna Casebier, San Francisco, California native, Aspiring Life & Soul Alignment Coach

Applications for future trainings will be available soon. For more information, please visit ucjeps.berkeley.edu/ workshops/2015/CalNat/.