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Naturalist Night: Coastal Prairies

California’s Coastal Prairies are a rare and incredibly biodiverse habitat found in Santa Cruz, and the most species-rich grassland type in North America. Despite its rarity and species-richness, this is a habitat-type at risk of continued range loss due to development, fire suppression, invasive plants, and other factors. During this interactive class we will explore these threats to this habitat type, as well as what makes coastal prairies unique, including the geology of coastal terraces, notable species, and ecological factors that have impacted the habitat type over millennia, including cultural burning by indigenous communities.

We are also excited to have a special guest join us this time! Justin Luong is a Ph.D. researcher in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz, currently focused on grassland restoration in California, and will share his research regarding potential impacts on coastal prairies due to climate change and drought.

About the series: Join fellow nature enthusiasts for monthly explorations of the biodiversity of Santa Cruz County. Each month, our Public Programs Manager Marisa Gomez will share the stories of a specific Santa Cruz habitat as we develop our skills as naturalists.

This series will feature a presentation as well as an interactive session and is in partnership with Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Come prepared to share and to learn alongside naturalists deep in their journey and just starting out.

Watch other Naturalist Nights

Collections Close-Up: The Interwoven History of Baskets and Museums

Ohlone Basket

Spend an evening unraveling the complex ways in which consumer trends and museums influenced early 20th basketry collections and craft. Collections Manager Kathleen Aston will elaborate on these trends and how they relate to our collection. Joining us will be Julie Sidel, Interpreter 1 for Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, to share how the intersection of museum artifacts and interpretation illuminates daily life at the Santa Cruz Mission.

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!

Rockin’ Pop-Up: Supercontinents

An illustration that shows the continents in different positions on a circle representing the earth. To the right is text and images of two men.

There have been a dozen major and minor supercontinents over the earth’s 4.567 billion year history, and odds are that there will be more. Explore plate tectonics and continental drift in this month’s Rockin’ Pop-Up.

About the Series: Join the Geology Gents, Gavin and Graham, for monthly conversations about rocks live on Facebook. Each month we’ll explore a different geologic topic, from Santa Cruz formations to tips for being a more effective rockhound. Graham Edwards and Gavin Piccione are PhD candidates in geochronology with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Santa Cruz.

Submit your questions ahead of time by emailing events@santacruzmuseum.org and feel free to include pictures of rocks you’d like identified! Pro-tip: the better the picture, the better the ID.

Watch Past Pop-Ups
Read our blog Rock Record

Macabre Mushrooms: Ghouls of the Woods with Christian Schwarz

Mycologist Christian Schwarz is back to explore the macabre side of the mushroom kingdom during this online lecture. From bizarre appearances to odd sexual proclivities, and digestive modes that are downright appalling, these mycological tales will delight Halloween revelers and offend Victorian sensibilities.

Image of Christian Schwarz holding up a mushroom to a group of people.

Christian Schwarz is a naturalist currently living in Santa Cruz, the land of milk (caps) and honey (mushrooms). He studied Ecology and Evolution at UCSC, and now spends his time photographing, teaching about, collecting, and researching macrofungi. He is coauthor of Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast. Fungi satisfy his curiosity with their seemingly endless forms – from the grotesque to the bizarre to the sublimely beautiful. Besides dabbling in mushroom taxonomy, he loves fish, plants, nudibranchs, moths, and dragonflies. He is passionate about citizen science, especially iNaturalist.

Rockin’ Pop-Up: Caves (Special Edition)

Photo of stalactite formations in a marble cave.

In honor of Halloween, we’re exploring the curious, the scary, and the strange all week during our series, Museum of the Macabre. And what’s scarier than a deep, dark cave? For the special Halloween Pop-Up, Gavin and Graham will explore the different ways that caves form. Learn more about caves in this month’s Rock Record blog post.

About the Series: Join the Geology Gents, Gavin and Graham, for monthly conversations about rocks live on Facebook. Each month we’ll explore a different geologic topic, from Santa Cruz formations to tips for being a more effective rockhound. Graham Edwards and Gavin Piccione are PhD candidates in geochronology with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Santa Cruz.

Submit your questions ahead of time by emailing events@santacruzmuseum.org and feel free to include pictures of rocks you’d like identified! Pro-tip: the better the picture, the better the ID.

Watch Past Pop-Ups
Read our blog Rock Record

The Basics of Taxidermy with Alex Krohn

The Basics of Taxidermy

Presented by the Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History and the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

Learn what you need to know to dive into taxidermy as a hobby. Alex Krohn shares the basics of preserving animals, the laws surrounding the process in California, and an overview of necessary tools, before then diving into an example on an Acorn Woodpecker specimen.

Image of Alex Krohn smiling with a frog on his finger.

Alex Krohn is the Assistant Director of the Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History at UC Santa Cruz. While he is a reptile and amphibian specialist, he loves helping connect people with all aspects of nature, both in the museum and across the natural lands of Santa Cruz County.

Rockin’ Pop-Up: Building Appalachia

The mountain ranges along our western edge of North America have a much different origin story than those of the east coast. We’ve explored the Sierra and the Santa Cruz Mountains in past pop-ups. This time around we’re comparing our relatively young ranges to the ancient origins of the Appalachians and beyond.

About the Series: Join the Geology Gents, Gavin and Graham, for monthly conversations about rocks live on Facebook. Each week we’ll explore a different geologic topic, from Santa Cruz formations to tips for being a more effective rockhound. Graham Edwards and Gavin Piccione are PhD candidates in geochronology with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Santa Cruz.

Submit your questions ahead of time here or by email to events@santacruzmuseum.org and feel free to include pictures of rocks you’d like identified! Pro-tip: the better the picture, the better the ID.

Watch Past Pop-Ups

Collections Close-Up: Curiosity Cabinets

A cabinet full of natural history pictures and objects

Peer into the wonderful world of wunderkammers — otherwise known as curiosity cabinets. Often filling full rooms, these pre-modern museums favored the eccentric and the esoteric. We’ll explore how our museum’s history is rooted in the Victorian versions of the curious trend, as well as more contemporary takes on cabinets.

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. Watch last month’s webinar on the fossils and fossil collectors of Santa Cruz.

Not yet a Member? Join today!

Naturalist Night: Redwood Forest

Redwoods are the tallest trees on earth, with lifespans that reach into the thousands, but their range is relatively small. A combination of longitude, climate, and elevation limit where they grow to a few hundred coastal miles — including right here in Santa Cruz. Explore the many compelling physical attributes of these towering giants, how humans have impacted their limited range, and the role that fire plays in their ecological story during this interactive class.

About the series: Join fellow nature enthusiasts for monthly explorations of the biodiversity of Santa Cruz County. Each month, our Public Programs Manager Marisa Gomez will share the stories of a specific Santa Cruz habitat as we develop our skills as naturalists.

This series will feature a presentation as well as an interactive session and is in partnership with Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Come prepared to share and to learn alongside naturalists deep in their journey and just starting out.

Watch other Naturalist Nights

Collections Close-Up: Santa Cruz Fossils and the People Who Dig ‘Em

Frank Perry works on a cast of a fossil sea cow skeleton.

Dig into the fossil record of Santa Cruz through the eyes of locals who find themselves captivated by these windows into the past and who made it their work to share this passion with others. One of these important contributors, Wayne Thompson, will share his history with the Museum and the unique potential that fossils have to engage students with science and the natural world, inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards.

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. Watch last month’s webinar on preservation policies in Museum collections.

Not yet a Member? Join today!