Central Sierra
University of California
Central Sierra

California Naturalist Volunteer Capstone Project

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California Naturalist volunteers are required to complete a volunteer service project prior to graduation from the course. It is designed to provide a bridge from class to service.

California Naturalist Volunteers are encouraged to work in teams when appropriate, and will present their projects to their peers during class time. Presentations will be limited to 15 minutes and are to summarize the work that the group has done.

What is a Capstone Project?
A Capstone Project is designed to provide an opportunity for participants to improve their knowledge and abilities through a work project of use to an external organization. It also allows volunteers to create ideas—in a structured setting with assistance from California Naturalist Instructors—for the post-graduation requirement of 40 hours of volunteer service. The Capstone Project provides an opportunity to transition from a California Naturalist student to a full-fledged citizen scientist volunteer.

Volunteer Projects may be completed in one of four areas:

  1. Citizen Science - Citizen science projects involve California Naturalist Volunteers in data collection for researchers. Such projects could include:
    • Monitor Western Bumble Bee populations as part of Rim Fire Recovery
    • Participating in the Audubon Bird Census
    • Helping monitor water quality in a local watershed
    • Collecting monarch butterfly larval monitoring data
  2. Program Support - Program support engages volunteers in the everyday operation of programming at a collaborating agency. It includes such activities as:
    • Working in a store or office of the collaborating agency
    • Writing newsletter/media articles
    • Developing/distributing brochures and promotional material
    • Serving as a local chapter organizer
  3. Education/Interpretation - Education/interpretation projects involve volunteers in the development and/or delivery of information. Examples could include:
    • Developing a public presentation on monarch butterfly migration in California
    • Designing a self-guided trail map
    • Designing and teaching a preschool program on the salmonid life cycle
    • Developing the Natural Resources Project Sheet for the 4-H program or after-school program
  4. Stewardship - Stewardship projects involve volunteers in natural resource management projects. Examples include:
    • Removing non-native vegetation by hand
    • Collecting seeds for germination in a greenhouse
    • Planting seeds and tending plants in a native plants nursery
    • Planning and acting as site captain for Great Sierra River Cleanup
    • Building or maintaining hiking trails and bridges

Project requirements:

  • Volunteers should work in teams when appropriate.
  • Volunteers must report results to peers and California Naturalist program staff.
  • Partners: the volunteer must work with an established restoration or conservation group, nature center, park system unit, or a similar established organization.
  • Time counts towards the volunteer service hour component.

Testimonial for Capstone Project:
According to a Missouri California Naturalist, “The Capstone Project is a good transition into volunteer work in conservation. The experience provides an application for the naturalist training we received. The experience also provided an avenue to expand knowledge into areas of interest.”

Webmaster Email: cecentralsierra@ucdavis.edu