The mission of the Campus Natural Reserve (CNR) is to contribute to the understanding and wise management of the Earth and its natural systems by supporting university level teaching, research and public service. Aspects of this mission are carried out daily, as the staff and faculty associated with the CNR work to train students in the arts and sciences of observing, interpreting, investigating, and managing elements of the natural world. Education is paramount, and extends into many areas on the CNR. Currently the CNR acts as an outdoor classroom extension that helps contextualize course concepts learned in traditional lecture settings. CNR staff members also provide informal education opportunities such as natural history and freshman orientation hikes to UCSC students. On campus field experiences are often the first exposure many students get to hands-on learning in the outdoors. These experiences can inspire students to seek out further field learning opportunities, such as the increasing number of immersion field courses available at UCSC. As the CNR features relatively intact natural systems, students and faculty are able to investigate important research questions and publish their results. Faculty research on the CNR, such as Greg Gilbert’s Forest Ecology Research Plot (FERP), can benefit from student assistance while providing students with valuable professional skills that can launch their careers upon graduation. CNR staff members coordinate these relationships by connecting students who are interested in the natural environment to faculty who are conducting research within the CNR. As a UCSC agency responsible for managing lands heavily used by members of local and regional communities, the CNR is also in a unique position to educate the public about the significance of UCSC’s unique campus lands and to raise awareness of the importance of stewardship. This plan will detail such efforts, and highlight opportunities for the future.
The CNR Academic Plan defines objectives and strategies for engaging undergraduates in hands-on academic research and education on the UCSC CNR and provides an overview of the educational activities conducted on the CNR since the hiring of its first full-time steward in winter 2012. In addition, this plan details the CNR’s natural resources to highlight the educational, research, and stewardship opportunities that exist within its different sectors. Other sections of the plan consider the establishment and history of the CNR, current formal and informal uses of the reserve, as well as potential future actions to further engage and outreach to both the UCSC and broader Santa Cruz communities.
During this internship, PSI Intern Molly Nagle and Campus Natural Reserve Steward Alex Jones have completed an Academic Plan outlining the resources to enhance education at UCSC by utilizing the Campus Natural Reserve. The document identifies classes that can use the CNR in the future. The Academic Plan gives options for how to use the CNR for certain classes depending on size, topic and time constraints. While the academic advisory committee did not meet this year, we were able to contact most of them gain feedback on broad aspects of the plan. Molly created a field activity tailored to children to help facilitate a stronger relationship with Santa Cruz schools. The field activity has students catch and identify insects and integrates sustainable themes into their education. The students will learn about inter-system connection in habitats and identify why certain species are best suited to live in specific microhabitats. In addition to the field activity and academic plan, Molly was able to co-lead 6 field activities with the reserve for the following four courses: Behavioral Ecology, Ecology & Evolution, Society & Nature and Developmental Physiology. Additionally, Molly helped with projects outside the CNR's academic sphere as part of her PSI internship, including trail restoration projects and invasive species mapping for the University-wide Invasive Species Management Plan.