Environmental Education Programs

This program “.. taught me how to become a better leader in the outdoors as well as the specific skills and knowledge required for being a naturalist….I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to participate ... and know that it will take me far in the future. I can’t wait to go back next season!”

Austin Price, Docent Naturalist


"I will remember this experience for the rest of my life."

Young Preserve Visitor, Elementary School Program Participant

Docent Naturalist Training

docent training

Docent Training Graduating Class Spring 2010

Everyone over the age of 18 years

The Osborn Naturalist Training Program prepares university students and community members to lead guided tours of the Fairfield Osborn Preserve. Participants learn natural history and teaching tools for communicating about local and regional environmental processes with a variety of audiences. Graduates of the Naturalist Training Program are eligible to serve as tour leaders for elementary school field trips and public hikes.

  • Elementary School Tours - Naturalists lead 3rd - 5th graders on tours of the Osborn Preserve (10 am to 2 pm in Spring and Fall). Pre-trip visits to the classroom prepare students for their trip to the Preserve.
  • Public Tours - Naturalists lead community members on guided hikes of the Osborn Preserve (10 am to 2 pm Saturdays in Spring and Fall).

Who Can Participate - The training program is open to everyone above the age of 18 who wishes to participate. Internship units and special studies credit are available for SSU students.

How to Sign Up - You must attend an informational meeting to enroll in the Training. Informational meetings are held at the beginning of Spring and Fall semesters. All meetings are held after 5 pm on campus to accommodate participant schedules. For locations and dates, see our Calendar (on our home page, click on the Calendar tab below the banner photo).

Schedule - The Naturalist Training Program occurs on five consecutive Sundays, 9 am to 5 pm, at the beginning of Fall and Spring semesters. See Calendar Tab on Home Page for training dates.

Additional Information - At the end of the training there is a quiz that all naturalists must pass.

Contact - SSU Preserves Education and Reservation Manager, Suzanne DeCoursey (ssu.preserves@sonoma.edu)


Osborn Preserve Elementary School Program

student naturalist showing aquatic organisms to elementary school students

Docent Naturalist with students at the Osborn Preseve freshwater marsh. Photo: Lincoln Peters.

Grades 3-5

The Fairfield Osborn Preserve environmental education program features elementary school field trips led by naturalists who have been trained in natural history, state content standards and environmental education skills. The curriculum includes a 4-hour hike into the beautiful heart of the Preserve, as well as a teacher’s packet and a classroom visit to assist students with field trip readiness.

The Fairfield Osborn Preserve has hosted environmental education programs for children in Sonoma County since the 1970's. We offer some of the smallest groups of any outdoor environmental education program, giving each child a better opportunity to learn from the natural world. Our naturalists have been trained in natural history, State content standards, research and management, and environmental education pedagogy.


Who Can Participate - Grades 3, 4 and 5 only

How to Sign Up - To be considered for a Preserve field trip, teachers must complete an On-line Application. Applicants are chosen by lottery for inclusion in the program.

Schedule - School tours are available during the fall and spring seasons. See Calendar Tab on Home Page for tour dates and deadlines.

Additional Information - We ask that teachers not apply together unless they must come on the same date to share a bus. If two or more teachers must share a bus, no more than 60 students can be accommodated. Teachers must be present both during the classroom visit and on the trail the day of the field trip. Parent chaperones are required at a ratio of 1 adult per hiking group and no more. There is a fee of $3 per student, payable on the day of the trip. Adults are not charged. Groups should plan to arrive at the Preserve at 9:45 AM and expect to depart at 2 PM (though earlier departures are permitted if school and/or bus schedules require such).

Contact - SSU Preserves Education and Reservation Manager, Suzanne DeCoursey (ssu.preserves@sonoma.edu)


Also See Public Tours