The California Chaparral Institute's Chaparral Naturalist Certification program strives to inspire a love for nature by creating a diverse community of nature advocates AND to help the public better understand and appreciate the chaparral, California's most extensive plant community. Our program is unique in that it focuses on the chaparral and enhancing your personal connection with nature.
We also strive to create permanent advocates for nature who are willing to inspire anyone they may encounter. Rather than passively listening to experts, the course is organized in small, interactive groups that participate in collaborative learning experiences designed to enhance the learning process, foster friendships, and encourage volunteering in the newfound community of nature advocates.
A significant part of the journey to love nature is also learning to love yourself. Research has confirmed what we have known intuitively for a very long time - connecting with nature is not only essential for our physical health, but our mental health as well. Nature provides us the tools necessary to develop meaningful connections with ourselves and the world around us. Much of the social and personal pain we experience in our lives can be related to our distance from nature. Therefore, we will spend a significant amount of time increasing your connection with nature and expanding the innate love of the natural world we expressed so willingly as children. Please read our essay, Rediscovering the Magic of Nature, to learn more.
We strongly believe those who do the teaching do the learning. Be prepared to actively participate in the adventure. Repeated, active participation allows the development of new neural pathways that can eventually replace old patterns. Wilfred Arlan Peterson said it best in his The Art of Living, Day by Day:
"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thought we wish to dominate our lives."
Once you have established a richer connection with yourself and nature, you'll be encouraged to share your connection with and enthusiasm for the natural world with others. Your experience with us can also provide you skills that will be extremely useful as an intern or volunteer at other nature-based, non-profits.
Another key goal of the Chaparral Naturalist Program is to expand the demographic of those participating in naturalist and docent training programs. We will pursue this goal by recruiting a wide diversity of students, post-graduates, and families from throughout the community. With the collaborative model the program will employ, we'll leverage the environmental wisdom of participating elders to inspire younger generations. We believe the environmental community can no longer just talk to itself, but must reach out to new groups to ensure nature continues to have a voice in the future.
Our vision is to create a self sustaining Chaparral Naturalist program that will help you an us achieve our five main goals:
1. Reconnect. Helping your youthful innocence and innate love for nature speak again. 2. Care. Reestablish personal connections and a sense of care for nature. 3. Engage. Encouraging the use of engaging, meaningful interpretation in nature education. 4. Diversity. Expanding and diversifying our audience. 5. Permanence. Inspiring those we share our enthusiasm with to become permanent Nature Advocates.
WHEN? Eight Saturday mornings (February - April) and a final, all day field trip. Attendance to all eight classes will be required to receive your Chaparral Naturalist Certification. The 2018 course is now over, but please send us a note if you have an interest in our next session.
WHERE? Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, 8833 Harmony Grove Road, Escondido, CA 92029
WHAT? We will be creating an interactive naturalist training adventure different from any other you have encountered. Instead of the traditional "sit and get" (sitting at a desk and passively listening), Chaparral Naturalists will actively engage in learning about links and patterns between all living things and the earth we all share (not just parts and pieces). Most importantly you will gain a better understanding of yourself so you can inspire a love for nature! Here is the course schedule for our most recent class.
WHY? To become a coach for nature at the Elfin Forest or elsewhere. Chaparral Naturalists will learn how to guide others through engaging activities along the trail with the ultimate goal of inspiring them to inspire more people to love nature. Inspire Others to Inspire.
COST? We ask for a $60 donation to help us cover printing, coffee, and bagels :) If this is really beyond your budget, let us know and we will try to come up with a creative way to help you.
WHO? Those who love nature and want to learn how to inspire others to feel the same, 16 and over.
In the video below, Dr. Drew Lanham, an ornithologist at Clemson University, provides an important message about why it's critical for us to help diversify the environmental community.
Our 2017 Chaparral Naturalists!
INSPIRE with the #greenchaparral Marble
An essential part of our program is to create lifelong Nature Advocates who strive to inspire others to love and help protect nature as well. As a symbol or talisman of that effort, Chaparral Naturalists pass along a #greenchaparral marble to those they meet who also express a sincere passion for the natural environment and the creative spirit it fosters. The marble is shared with the understanding that the recipient will pass it along to another who communicates a willingness to become a yet another Nature Advocate.
Passport to the Chaparral
The Passport to the Chaparral is a wonderful way to discover the plants and animals found in California's most extensive ecosystem. Our first Passport edition focuses on the watersheds of Escondido, California which include the Escondido Creek and the San Dieguito River. Our Passports can be found in the Interpretive Center at the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve in Escondido and at various other natural areas throughout the greater Escondido area. You can obtain one by mail by clicking the $2.50 donation button below.
By completing 10 of the 20 suggested activities, you can submit your experiences to us and receive a Passport Certificate and a Chaparral Pocket Naturalist Guide (shown above right).
Obtain a Passport to the Chaparral to discover the watersheds of Escondido by mail by clicking the $2.50 donation button to the right.
Please see our other Nature Education pages for additional information on other programs