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.  Interesting in attending, but not ready to purchase a ticket? Call (831) 420-6115 or email to reserve a seat and pay at the door – events with low enrollment are subject to cancellation.

Upcoming lectures:

Re-imagine Your Yard: Replacing Your Lawn on a Budget

Thursday, October 18 | 7-8:30 p.m. | Click HERE to Register
$4 Adults |$2 Seniors/Students | FREE for Youth and Museum Members
Location:  Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
Talk will begin at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.

About the talk:

As water supply conditions become more variable and water rates increase, the costs of maintaining traditional lawns become prohibitive. Many of us have thirsty lawns but have questions about removing them. Will it be expensive? Will the garden look messy? Will it require more work? Can we still walk and play in the yard? Others may want to see more wildlife and color in their garden without increasing water usage. Learn the answers to these questions and ways to shrink your water bill while boosting your garden’s beauty and usefulness.

About the Speakers:

Bill Henry, Director of Groundswell Coastal Ecology will share his experiences restoring and replacing the Museum’s front lawn with a Coastal Prairie.

Toby Goddard and Neal Christen work for the City of Santa Cruz’s water conservation department and will share information and answer questions about the City’s lawn replacement rebate program.

Master Gardeners Karen Cozza and Julia Davenport will get participants started on the right foot with recommendations for plant selection and design, with an emphasis on planting CA native plants for habitat services and low water usage.


Restoring Indigenous Stewardship – The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and Land Trust

Thursday, November 8 | 7-8:30 p.m. | Click HERE to Register
$12 General | $6 Youth (under 18) | Members 50% off
Location:  Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
Talk will begin at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.

About the talk:

For centuries California Indians managed and sustained cultural ecosystems with traditional resource and environmental management practices. Today, after a period of colonial dispossession, the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band is fulfilling their obligation to their Creator by relearning traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and returning to their traditional territory, which includes Santa Cruz and surrounding areas, to steward and care for Mother Earth. Amah Mutsun Tribal Chairman Valentin Lopez will discuss the history of the tribe and how the Amah Mutsun Land Trust (AMLT) was developed as a means to assist the tribe in their efforts to gain access to lands within their tribal territory. Sara French, research associate with AMLT, will give examples of how the AMLT is restoring indigenous stewardship to Amah Mutsun ancestral lands using research and education, conservation and restoration, and innovative partnerships in the Santa Cruz mountains and beyond.

About the Speakers:

Valentin Lopez is the Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the President of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust Board of Directors. Chairman Lopez works tirelessly to honor his ancestors and make sure they are never erased from history or forgotten. He has spoken on numerous occasions on the floor of the United Nations to bring international attention to the cultural and ecological restoration initiatives of his tribe. He serves as a Native American Advisor to the University of California, to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology. Chairman Lopez is a Mutsun singer and dancer and student of the Mutsun language.

Sara French is the Director of Programs and Development for the Amah Mutsun Land Trust. She holds dual degrees from UC Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies and Anthropology, and a master’s degree from UC Berkeley in Range Management. She has worked with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band since 2009 on numerous ethnobotanical, ecological restoration, and resource management projects. In recent years she has focused her efforts on fundraising, grant writing, and developing resource stewardship programs for the Amah Mutsun Land Trust. She is a native plant enthusiast and is deeply committed to restoring indigenous stewardship and culturally significant native plants to Amah Mutsun traditional territory.

The 2018 Amah Mutsun: Then and Now program series is supported by California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit

Naturalist Nights are sponsored by:

Do you have an idea for a future Naturalist Night?  Let us know at