Catalina Island Conservancy
Contact: Hillary Holt,
Sponsor: California Naturalist

This course is full. Please contact Hillary to placed on next year's wait list.

Full course website:

Formed in 1972, the Catalina Island Conservancy is one of California's oldest land trusts. Its mission is to be a responsible steward of its lands through a balance of conservation, education and recreation. Through its ongoing efforts, the Conservancy protects the magnificent natural and cultural heritage of Santa Catalina Island, stewarding approximately 42,000 acres of land and more than 60 miles of rugged shoreline. It provides an airport and 50 miles of biking and nearly 165 miles of hiking opportunities within its road and trail system. The Conservancy conducts educational outreach through two nature centers, its Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden and guided experiences in the Island’s rugged interior. Twenty miles from the mainland, the Island is a treasure trove of historical and archaeological sites. It also contains numerous rare and endangered animals and plants. The Island is home to 60 species – and counting – that are found only on Catalina.

The Catalina Island Conservancy California Naturalist Program
Santa Catalina Island rose from the ocean approximately 3 million years ago as a result of tectonic plate activity and has been home to bold colonists ever since. The theory of Island Biogeography dictated what species arrived to form populations, but several species such as the Catalina Island fox were most likely brought by the Tongva, the indigenous people of the Southern Channel Islands and the LA Basin. This has led the Conservancy to define a native species as having arrived before the discovery of the West Coast by the Spanish in 1542. Today the Island is home to 61 species and sub-species that exist only on Catalina. These plants and animals have been threatened over time by a long history of exploitation on the Island. Military, mining, ranching, and tourism left Catalina overused and overgrazed.

After the removal of the goats and pigs from the Island by 2004, the Conservancy has made huge leaps forward in restoring the landscape by removing invasive plants and out planting natives. Amazing recoveries of the American Bald Eagle and the Catalina Island Fox, are among other victories that are revitalizing the Island.

The Catalina California Naturalist Program looks to create highly trained guides, volunteers and most importantly, stewards, to spread the word of not only how special Catalina is but how important all Islands are. This course pairs a science curriculum that will take you through California ecology by exploring geology, watershed concepts, plants, animals and energy, through the distinct lens of a Catalina Island.

By the end of this course, participants will:

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand what it means to be a naturalist.
  • Integrate knowledge about the interconnectedness of abiotic, biotic and cultural factors and their influence on the natural history of Catalina Island.
  • Demonstrate skills in making and recording natural history observations in a field notebook and nature journal.
  • Become proficient using iNaturalist to record nature observations
  • Apply knowledge of Catalina and Southern California to local and global environmental issues.
  • Meet all of the course requirements.

2020 Course Schedule:

Eight-week on-line coursework from 02/03-03/27

One-week immersion field school on Catalina Island 3/30-4/4

Find 2020 Syllabus View Syllabus (subject to updates).

For more information on the Catalina Island Conservancy Naturalist Training Program, visit the Conservancy's website

Cost: $715.00

Contact:  Hillary Holt, 310-510-0954 x 221