Naturalist Night

The Naturalist Night series is a Museum favorite!  This long-running monthly lecture series features a special guest speaker and topics vary widely.  Do you have an idea for a future Naturalist Night?  Let us know at

The next event in this series:

Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean

March 14 | 7-8:30 PM | Registration
$12 General | $6 Children | Members 50% off
Reserve your copy in advance and get discounted admission!
Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean ($28)
$34 Admission + Book | $28 Member Admission + Book

Location:  Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

Doors open at 6:45pm and the talk will begin at 7 pm. Light refreshments provided.

About the talk:

After nearly losing his 65’ wooden schooner in a large Alaskan tide, writer, sailor, and surfer Jonathan White vowed to understand the tide. He knew the moon had something to do with it, but what exactly? He read a book, then two. Ten years later, he had read three hundred books and criss-crossed the seven seas to see the largest, fastest, scariest, and most amazing tides in the world. In China he confronted the Silver Dragon, a twenty-five foot tidal bore that races eighty miles up the Qiantang River; at London’s Royal Society, he dug into the earliest Western tide science, which preoccupied thinkers from Da Vinci to Galileo to Newton; and in the Arctic he followed an Inuit elder down a small hole through thick winter ice to gather fresh blue mussels in the cavities left by low tide. With photographs, stories, and short readings, Jonathan takes his audiences on an enthralling journey into the surprising and poetic workings of the tide.

About the Speaker:

Jonathan White has written for the Christian Science Monitor, Sierra, The Sun, Surfer’s Journal, Orion, and other publications. His first book, Talking on the Water (Sierra Club Books), is a collection of interviews exploring our relationship with nature. White is an active marine conservationist, holds an MFA in creative nonfiction, and lives with his wife and son on a small island in Washington State.

Bean to Cup: Chocolate from its Source to You

March 21 | 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm | Registration
$15 General | $10 Child | Members $5 off
Location:  Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

Talk will begin at 7 pm. Doors will open at 6:45 pm.

About the talk:
Where does one of our favorite treats come from? From cacao plant to steaming pot, there is a rich story behind making a flavorful, healing, organic cup of hot chocolate. Join us for a talk and tasting presented by Mutari Chocolate House. Learn about how the origin of chocolate and artistry in making delicacies from hand-picked, stone-ground, ethically traded cacao, and taste a warm cup of their sipping chocolate as part of our celebration of the natural history of food.

About the speakers:

Katy Oursler and Stephen Beaumier, owners of Mutari Chocolate are all about sourcing and telling the story behind local food. Katy previously worked with artist Jim Denevan to launch the renowned Outstanding in the Field dinner series, traveling around the coutry and to other continents to host more than 200 farm-to-table dinners. Stephen is a professional chef who has worked at Michelin starred Quince in San Francisco and Cyrus in Healdsburg (source: Edible Monterey Bay). Together, they are making unique and decadent products at Santa Cruz’s first “bean-to-cup” chocolate cafe. Learn more about Mutari Chocolate here:

Harvesting Our Heritage: Telling Bite-sized Stories from Santa Cruz County History

March 30 | 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm | Registration
$15 General | $10 Child | Members $5 off
Location:  Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

Talk will begin at 7 pm. Prior to the talk, a brief cooking demonstration by the Teen Kitchen Project will begin at 6:30 pm.

About the talk:
The Santa Cruz Heritage Food Project was launched in 2012 to research and share some of the interesting stories behind the County we love, and the foods we love to eat. Come hear the adventures of amateur historians as they navigate local archives and discovering fascinating histories and delicious recipes along the way. The talk will focus on how a few local crops, wine grapes, Logan berries, and Pismo clams, shaped the foodie culture of Santa Cruz.

About the Speakers:


Sierra Ryan grew up in Live Oak on land that her family used to farm. After spending six years away to earn her BA and MS, Sierra returned in 2007 ready to become more involved in the community. Her career is focused on water resources, and through that line of work the importance of agriculture – both current and historical – to the region became obvious. While trained as a scientist, Sierra grew up with a love of local history. The Heritage Food Project is an opportunity to explore local history and local agriculture – and indulge in some fine dining at every opportunity. She is researching apples, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, & clams.

If Liz Birnbaum had a million dollars, she would be doing exactly what she is doing now: living in Santa Cruz, connecting with and working to entertain the community, and biking the coast. Her passion is food, and that has taken the form of food history and community engagement. She works to build community through telling stories about the deeper histories of food through her project, The Curated Feast. She has worked at local organic farming non-profits, on farms, in classrooms, on wilderness trips, and in art galleries through her varied career. She loves funneling some of her energy toward the Heritage Food Project because she keeps finding more stories to unravel. She is researching wine, wheat, and potatoes for the Project.

Jody Biergiel Colclough came to Santa Cruz to participate in the organic food movement. After two years on the East coast earning her MS in Food Science, she hurried back to coastal California. In addition to working as an organic certifier, she has sat on the Board of Slow Food Santa Cruz, and spends as much time procuring, preparing and consuming the foods of the region as she can. She gets to indulge her love of reading and history with the Heritage Food Project. She is researching sugar beets, dry-farmed tomatoes, and poultry for the Project.

Katie (Lang) Hansen is a dietitian who loves all things related to food. She was formerly on the board of Slow Food Santa Cruz and currently is taking a break from her work in diabetes education to stay at home with her toddler. She is researching berries for the Project.

21st Century Natural History: Biodiversity, Technology, and Citizen Science
Part of our “Citizen Science” programmatic theme for April – June

April 20 | 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm | Registration
$12 General | $6 Child | Members 50% off
Location:  Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

Talk will begin at 7 pm. Doors open at 6:45 pm.

About the talk:
The Citizen Science program at the California Academy of Sciences is designed to engage volunteers – “citizen scientists” – in discovering, observing, and documenting biodiversity. From creating a complete current plant record and herbarium collection of Mt. Tamalpais, to monitoring species at local rocky intertidal sites, to bringing the public together to bioblitz the Bay Area’s local parks and open spaces, their goal is to give people opportunities to connect to the outdoors, to science, and to each other. With their partners and through utilizing the Academy’s iNaturalist platform, they’re building communities and creating stewards of nature, both in person and online, while providing invaluable biodiversity data for science and conservation. This talk will highlight some of the Academy’s citizen science projects and outcomes, including initiatives like Snapshot Cal Coast, an annual bioblitz of California’s coastal diversity from Del Norte to San Diego, designed to help better understand changing species ranges and to highlight the incredible number of species that exist along our coastline.

About the speaker:

Alison Young has been the co-director, along with Rebecca Johnson, of the Citizen Science program at the California Academy of Sciences since 2011. Alison grew up in the East Bay Area, in Lafayette, CA. She has a BA in Biology from Swarthmore College and an MA in Biology from Humboldt State University, where her research focused on Marine Biology, specifically rocky intertidal communities and effects of climate change. Alison spent six years as an outdoor environmental educator in the Santa Cruz Mountains for elementary school youth, and prior to coming to the Academy, led a coastal monitoring citizen science program for high school students. Alison sits on a working group for the national Citizen Science Association and was a co-chair of their inaugural conference in San Jose in February 2015. Just recently Alison and Rebecca were awarded the 2017 Environmental Education Local Heroes award from Bay Nature.

Naturalist Night series is sponsored by