The Nature Education Program at ACR connects children and adults with nature, cultivates environmental literacy, and promotes stewardship of the earth through experiential nature education and emphasis on lifelong learning.

Each year, thousands of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders from throughout the Bay Area’s diverse communities take part in our hands-on education programs. We also offer visiting opportunities for the public, intensive training for volunteers, and in-depth nature experiences for young people. Our goal is to instill a conservation ethic and love of nature in those who experience the preserves.

ACR's Nature Education Program comprises three focus areas that are interwoven through innovative delivery models:

School Program

The School Program model consists of a visit to an ACR preserve for a three-hour, docent-led nature hike; a pre-visit, in-class orientation; and a set of standards-based resources for teachers to develop classroom activities related to the nature-hike content. Long trusted as a leader in the field of intergenerational nature education, ACR’s School Program for children in grades three, four, and five cultivates ecological literacy and promotes stewardship of the earth through hands-on, inquiry-based nature education. Explore the School Program and bring a class

Junior Naturalist (Juniper) Program

Every year since 1994, ACR has recruited and provided 25 hours of field-based natural history training for a group of 30 budding natural scientists in the fourth and fifth grade. Once trained, these junior naturalists join the 50-member Juniper team to work with ACR volunteers and staff in implementing conservation science and stewardship projects and helping to lead nature walks for members of the public.  Learn more about the Juniper Program

Conservation Science Intensive

ACR’s Conservation Science Intensive brings together selected participants for a summer adventure and educational experience on the spectacular and permanently protected lands of Audubon Canyon Ranch in Sonoma and Marin counties. This extraordinary program seeks to inspire young women to develop a stronger connection to nature while learning about and practicing land conservation and stewardship. Over the course of 5 consecutive days, participants develop an understanding of conservation practices and deepen their appreciation of the complexity and interconnectedness of natural systems. Learn more >

Docent and Nature Guide Training

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the education programs of Audubon Canyon Ranch. Over 800 active volunteers—and the thousands of hours they collectively donate every year—make the ACR mission come to life. Over the past five decades, ACR has offered extensive training in the natural history of Northern California’s diverse and beautiful ecosystems trained for hundreds of docents who have in turn shared their time and love of nature with generations of schoolchildren. Thousands of other volunteers have oriented visitors, provided expert natural history interpretation, cleared trails, removed invasive plants, become field observers, worked in ACR’s library and completed construction projects. Learn more about our in-depth natural history training and the role of our volunteers.

Photo Credits: 

  • Amy Ray
  • Bob Alwitt
  • Ane Carla Rovetta
  • Jocelyn Knight