7/22 Exploring the Burn Zone: Butano State Park with Amy Patten

Butano State Park is located in San Mateo County and features a quiet canyon filled with towering second- and third growth-redwood trees, babbling creeks, and more. While 85% of the park was within the fire perimeter of the CZU Lightning Complex, State Parks environmental scientists describe the event as a “healthy burn” that will improve forest health.

Parts of the park have reopened and we’ll explore the impacts of the fire alongside Amy Patten of the California Native Plant Society, while collecting data using iNaturalist to support the CZU Lightning Complex and Community Science Project.

Thursday, July 22 | 10 a.m. to noon
Free (donations appreciated) | Register

CZU AND YOU: Exploring the Burn Zone Walks

Witness the impacts of the CZU Lightning Complex fires with your own eyes through this series of walks exploring different habitats that burned last August. Throughout the series, naturalists from the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, California Native Plant Society, and California State Parks will guide you through your explorations and provide resources to help you contribute data through the Museum’s CZU Lightning Complex and Community Science Project.

Butano State Park
Thursday, July 22 | 10 a.m. to noon | FULL

Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve
Saturday, August 7 | 10 a.m. to noon | FULL

Rancho Del Oso (coastal portion of Big Basin Redwoods SP)
Saturday, August 14 | 10 a.m. to noon | FULL

Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve
Saturday, August 21 | 10 a.m. to noon | FULL

Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve
Saturday, August 28 | 10 a.m. to noon | Register

This program is part of the series CZU AND YOU: Resources for Recovery, Preparedness, and Ecological Understanding from the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History and Santa Cruz Public Libraries | August 2021

Photo by Amy Patten.

7/10 Rockin’ Pop-Up at the Museum

This month’s Rockin’ Pop-Up will be in-person at the Museum! We love our virtual presentations from the Geology Gents Graham Edwards and Gavin Piccione, but we’ve also missed having them at the Museum to identify rocks and engage with our visitors.

So we’re bringing back the original Rockin’ Pop-Up model for one month only before Graham moves to the East Coast for his post-doc work. Don’t worry — he’ll continue in his role as Geology Gent from afar, with virtual programs returning in August.

Swing on by the Museum and feel free to bring 1-3 rocks for identification.

Saturday, July 10 | 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Free | Outside the Museum

Graham Edwards and Gavin Piccione are PhD candidates in geochronology with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Santa Cruz.

6/26 Beach Clean-Up at Seabright Beach

Saturday, June 26 | 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Register in advance

Summer is here and our beaches will be needing some extra love! Help provide a positive example to others by picking up trash while enjoying the beach. Thanks to Save Our Shores, we’ll provide everything you need to clean Seabright Beach safely and effectively.

Register to let us know you’re coming. Walk-ups are also welcome. You can check-in starting at 10 a.m. at the entrance to Seabright Beach. All materials should be returned before 1 p.m.


We will meet you at the entrance to Seabright Beach (where the gate is). Parking is available throughout the neighborhood. If you park on the Museum side of Pilkington Ave. you will need to first receive a Museum parking permit either from inside the Museum or at the check-in station at the beach.


  • Restrooms are available at the beach
  • We recommend that all volunteers wear closed-toed shoes, dress in layers, wear sun protection, and bring a filled reusable water bottle.
  • All cleanup materials are provided, including trash bags, grabbers, and disposable gloves. Volunteers are also encouraged to bring their own.
  • You can download the Save Our Shores Marine Tally App (Apple, Google) in advance of the cleanup and use it to record the debris you collect, or you can use the paper data cards that we will provide at the event.
  • Volunteers under the age of 18 MUST be accompanied by an adult.
  • Every participant must sign a State Park waiver at check-in.


  • Please wear a mask if not vaccinated
  • If you feel sick, stay home
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance from others when possible
  • Gloves should be worn at all times.
  • Participants should not pick up Personal Protective Equipment unless you can do so safely with a grabber and separate disposable bag.

If you have additional questions, please contact us at volunteer@santacruzmuseum.org.

Human Nature: In Relationship with California Rare Plants

California has more native plants than any other state, most of which are endemic to California (only found here). What’s more, over 1/3 of our native plants are also considered rare due to human development, climate change, habitat fragmentation, rare habitats, and other factors.

During this collaborative program where science meets art, we’ll learn about human relationships with nature from two rare plant lovers who engage with California’s unique flora in their own unique ways.

Barnali Ghosh, an immigrant storyteller and California landscape architect, has taken the native plant world by storm with a series of fashion self-portraits bridging home and homeland — re-creations of California native flowers, using fabrics and dance forms from India.

Amy Patten works with community scientists to document rare plant populations throughout California through her role as Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Manager with the California Native Plant Society. She also captures the flora and fauna around her through the art of photography.

Barnali Ghosh has featured several of Amy Patten’s photographs of native plants in her self-portraits.


This program is in support of our current exhibition of science illustration, The Art of Nature, and the CZU Lightning Complex and Community Science Project.

6/19 Makers Market: The Art of Nature

Saturday, June 19 | 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, located in Tyrrell Park

During this outdoor Makers Market, meet featured artists from our annual science illustration exhibit, The Art of Nature, watch them at work through live demonstrations at their booths (including some tattooing!), and support their work by going home with prints, stickers, cards, cups, and more! We will also have an illustration station so that you can create your own works of art inspired by the native plants in our Garden Learning Center. Wear your mask, keep your distance, and have fun in and out of the Museum!

Featured Artists

Yvonne Byers
Sami Chang
Andrea Dingeldein
Megan Gnekow
Logan Parsons
Stephanie Martin
Elizabeth Romanini
Katie Rider
Kylie Kathleen Smith
Jeanne Sofen

Art for Conservation with Megan Gnekow

Conservation and recovery of threatened and endangered species requires more than bringing individual organisms back from the brink. It also requires the restoration and recovery of ecological relationships that allow all organisms in an ecosystem to survive and thrive.

During this lecture with artist Megan Gnekow, we will explore how understanding and communicating food webs and other ecological relationships can help put some favorite (and famous!) creatures into context. We’ll also learn how creative use of science illustration can help tell these stories.

This program is in support of our science illustration exhibit, The Art of Nature, on view online and in-person.

Megan Gnekow

With formal training in a wide variety of media, Megan’s current work focuses primarily on honoring the fine details of the world and depicting the relationships between organisms in a wide variety of ecosystems. Her great passion is bringing people back to connection with the natural world through artistic experiences. She also volunteers for Resource Management at Pinnacles National Park, where she continues her training as an amateur naturalist. Megan spends most of her free time exploring the vast collection of ecosystems we call California. 

6/12 Out and About: Nature Walk at Pogonip

Students on a field trip in Pogonip

Saturday, June 12 | 10 a.m. to noon
Location: Pogonip Open Space
Free (donations appreciated) | FULL

Out and About is a monthly series of family-friendly, small group get-togethers exploring Santa Cruz’s diverse natural spaces through guided activities.

It’s time to get out and about! Join us for a nature walk through the habitats of Pogonip Open Space. Museum educators Chris Soriano and Rocio Sànchez-Nolasco will guide you through the redwood forest, open meadows, and woodlands on a search for native plants and animals. We’ll also explore the cultural history of the area, from the Awaswas-speaking Uypi tribe to the era of lime kilns and lumber.

This program is family-friendly and all ages are welcome. Location details will be shared upon registration. Please review the following details prior to registering:


  • Wear a mask at all times
  • If you feel sick, stay home
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance from others when possible
  • We are limiting this to 15 individuals

Collections Close-Up: Benitoite with Hilde Schwartz

There are few things more Californian than benitoite, a mineral formed within the low temperature, high pressure environment of subduction zones and sparsely sprinkled throughout serpentinite landscapes. While the mineral exists in isolated locations globally, gemstone quality material has only been found in California — one of the reason’s it was named our State Gemstone in 1985.

Learn about the geologic and cultural history of this mineral with Museum Collections Manager Kathleen Aston and Dr. Hilde Schwartz, lecturer in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department at UC Santa Cruz, during this installment of our member-exclusive Collections Close-Up series.


About the series

Zoom into the stories, secrets, and science of our collections during monthly webinars with Collections Manager Kathleen Aston. This live event is an extension of our monthly Collections Close-Up blog, with added insights and intrigue. Members are invited to participate in this program before it is made available to the general public as well as ask questions directly of Kathleen.

Not yet a Member? Join today!

Your support helps us steward our collections and offer educational programs that connect people with nature and science. Memberships start at just $15/year.

6/6 Community Event: Red Road to DC Totem Pole Journey

Sunday, June 6 | 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tyrrell Park (behind the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History)
1305 E. Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, CA

The City of Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History are honored to welcome the Lummi Nation House of Tears Carvers on their journey to D.C.

During this event, the House of Tears Carvers will hold a blessing for the 24-foot totem pole carved at the Lummi Nation from a 400-year-old red cedar. This is just one stop of many on their 5,000 mile cross-country journey, evoking an urgent call to protect sacred lands and waters of Indigenous people. The journey, called the Red Road to DC Totem Pole Journey to Protect Sacred Sites, will culminate in Washington, D.C.

As the pole travels it draws lines of connection — honoring, uniting and empowering communities working to protect sacred places. It carries the spirit of the lands it visits and the power and prayers of communities along the way. 

In this moment of self-reflection across the United States and the acknowledgment of past and present injustices inflicted on Native Peoples and lands without consent, the Lummi Nation House of Tears Carvers invite all peoples to stand united with them to protect sacred places, and fulfill ancestral and historic obligations to the First Peoples of these lands and waters.

This community event will take place in the City of Santa Cruz’s Tyrrell Park behind the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. Please wear a mask and keep your distance when possible. All are welcome.

This event will take place in the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.

6/5 Member Meet-Up: Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve

Saturday, June 5 | 10 a.m. to noon

Location: Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve
Member Exclusive | SOLD OUT

Member Meet-Ups are small group get-togethers for Museum Members where we learn from each other while exploring Santa Cruz’s diverse natural spaces. Not yet a Member? Join today!

The Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve is an example of the unique Santa Cruz sandhills habitat and home to many of our local rare plants. It has also experienced multiple fire events since 2008, including last year’s CZU Lightning Complex.

Join us for this month’s Member Meet-Up where we’ll hunt for rare plants, explore the impacts of fire on the landscape, and gather safely with our community in nature! We’ll also collect data as part of the CZU Lightning Complex and Community Science Project.

COVID protocol

  • Wear a mask at all times
  • If you feel sick, stay home
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance from others
  • We are limiting the number of Members who can join us to 15 individuals

What to expect

  • Further instructions will be shared upon registration.
  • Member Meet-Ups are about shared exploration with fellow nature lovers. We promise friendly (masked) faces, an abundance of enthusiasm, resources to aid in identifications, and a fun morning exploring nature.

Resources for further exploration

Become a Member