Thank you for your interest in Ecology and Natural History of California. This program takes an investigative eye to some of the secluded grand mountains, rivers, and coastline in Northern California, and gives students the tools to “read” the history and ecology of these and other natural landscapes. While backpacking, canoeing, participating in restoration of a magnificent river, and gaining university credit, we will explore the ecology, natural history, cultural history, and modern issues confronting Northern California’s diverse ecosystems. We create a traveling intellectual community that approaches a rigorous academic curriculum with an experiential and holistic eye, all while gaining wilderness living and group leadership skills.
The ecological processes, patterns, and issues in this landscape that will be our classroom are similarly formative around the globe. Through gaining first-hand experience with these processes, students develop a “tool kit” that they can use to self-educate, teach, and lead wherever they go. The course will include a combination of fieldwork, facilitated discussion, student-guided lessons, reflection, and interactive lectures. Data collected through sampling will contribute to ongoing studies monitoring ecosystem health. The ecosystems that will serve as our classroom will range from mountaintop alpine to riparian, estuarine, and inter-tidal.
Leadership and group facilitation skills will be developed and practiced, as each student will rotate into roles such as navigator, chef, discussion facilitator, and more. Participants will learn “Leave No Trace” wilderness ethics and gain the skills necessary to travel safely in a remote wilderness setting, such as orienteering, cooking, and practicing safety and weather protocols. Our relationship to the surrounding wilderness will be one of the most powerful benefits of the outdoor classroom. Throughout the course we have abundant time and space to connect personally with the natural world that will be our home, restoring a welcome perspective to our human experience. In addition to all else gained from the course, the community created on the journey will be one of the greatest benefits. Three weeks of hard work, hard play, and adventure creates tight-knit friendships that may last a lifetime.
We will meet in Santa Cruz, Calif. on the evening of July 19 and will return to Santa Cruz on August 9.
The program will consist of three expeditions and a stay at a coastal field-site.
The first trip will be an eight-day backpack into the Marble Mountains Wilderness in the Klamath Mountains. From there we will resupply and take to canoes, following Humboldt County's epic river system from mountains to coast. Then we will spend four days at the mouth of the Mattole River engaging in a hands-on exploration of the field of restoration ecology. Finally, we will backpack down the Lost Coast, exploring the ecology and history at the continent's edge.