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History and Nature Classes


Hummingbirds - Beauty and Biological Wonder

Come learn about the birds our Latin American neighbors call the “Zum-yums.” The biological characteristics of the hummingbird is absolutely fascinating! Restricted to the Americas, these incredible avian acrobats hover, fly backwards (even upside-down!), endure a metabolic marathon that may only narrowly permit them to survive through a single day, and exhibit plumages that exceed that of Birds-of-Paradise, and are often even iridescent.

Several score of the more than 350 described species carry names of precious gems, reflecting their unique brilliant feathery. Your instructor will share a collection of images as part of the discussion.

Join us for an afternoon at the Cabrillo Horticulture Center, overlooking the entire campus and the Monterey Bay region, where there may be opportunities for viewing hummingbirds in flight, and feeding from the large collection of blooming salvias!

Sat., Oct. 19
2:00 – 4:30 pm
Room: Hort 5010
Register before Sept. 9:  $48
Register after Sept. 9:  $55
Register 2 or more: $45 each

register online


Bruce Elliott - see bio


Birding at Rancho del Osos

The canyon at Rancho del Osos, carved out by Waddell Creek, is a great place for autumn bird watching! This class is scheduled on the first day of “FeederWatch”, to highlight the winterlong survey of birds organized by Project FeederWatch.

On our morning walk students will see numerous varieties of bird species, including wetland and forest birds, as we walk on well graded trails that meander along Waddell Creek in the cool and clear autumn air. Your expert guide will review the biology and migratory patterns of each species you encounter - like a verbal version of a bird book and wildlife guide!  Enjoying the beautiful location, while you learn about the fascinating local creatures that call the Central Coast home.

Participants should be properly prepared for the current weather conditions. This includes clothing suitable for variable weather. Bring a lunch, snacks, and a trail beverage or canteen with water.

Students will meet at the Ranger Station Interpretive Center, 1/4 mile inland from the yellow gate across from the Waddell State Beach parking lot on Highway 1 in Davenport.

For more information about Project FeederWatch go to feederwatch.org

Sat. Nov. 9
9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Rancho del Osos, 3600 Highway 1 in Davenport
Register before Sept. 9:  $48
Register after Sept. 9:  $55
Register 2 or more:  $45 each

register online

 

Bruce Elliott - see bio

 


Elkhorn Slough Safari

Spend a day at Elkhorn Slough learning about and viewing wetland wildlife at close range aboard a comfortable, easily boardable boat, floating on calm inland slough water. This day trip will offer a unique autumn spectrum of wildlife, including shore bird species. Join experienced naturalists as we see sea lions, harbor seals, and sea otters. There will be a significant variety of aquatic birds, and close-in views of a thriving heron and cormorant rookery shore side. We rarely record fewer than 50 bird species on our trips, including many northbound migrants, during the three-hour outing. 

This trip offers a view of the Elkhorn slough, and the wildlife that live there, that is only visible when you are moving through the slough on a boat!

Please bring $8 for parking meters, in $1 bills or change. These meters do not give change! Also plan for time to park, and be sure to arrive on time, as students must complete some paperwork prior to boarding.

Dress in layers, and for the current weather, wear comfortable shoes appropriate for boarding a boat.

Please see our Class Resources web page for maps, directions and other important class information.

Sat., Nov. 23 - CLASS FULL
11:30 am - 3:30 pm
Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing
Register before Sept. 9:  $85
Register after Sept. 9:  $92
Register 2 or more:  $82 each

register online

 

Bruce Elliott - see bio

 


Winter Wildlife of the Carrizo Plain

Explore California’s newest high desert reserve, nestled between the Temblor and Caliente mountain ranges of eastern San Luis Obispo County, with an experienced field biologist. This quiet tableland of plains, rugged canyon and sprawling Soda Lake, hosts populations of recently reintroduced pronghorn antelope and Tule elk (absent from the area since the beginning of the century), as well as smaller predatory mammals, kit fox, jackrabbit and the endangered kangaroo-rat and antelope squirrel. In the winter, the desert basin hosts thousands of birds, waterfowl, sandhill cranes, mountain plover and raven.

Participants should be properly prepared the current weather conditions. This includes clothing suitable for variable weather. Bring a lunch, snacks, and a trail beverage or canteen with water. 

Please wear comfortable footwear that is well broken in for rugged terrain, and preferably something you wouldn’t mind getting wet. A brimmed hat or cap to protect against strong sun glare will be useful and a binocular will greatly enhance your enjoyment of the wildlife.

Participants will meet in the California Valley just east of the Los Padres National Forest in San Luis Obispo County and form carpools for the daily activities.Please see our Class Resources web page for maps, directions, and meeting place.

Sat., Dec. 7 - CLASS FULL
9:00 am - 4:00 pm 
Off-site in San Luis Obispo County
Register before Sept. 9:  $68
Register after Sept. 9:  $72
Register 2 or more:  $60 each

register online

 

Bruce Elliott is a retired senior Biologist Supervisor for the California Dept. of Fish and Game. He is a skilled field trip leader who conducts a variety of tours and explorations of the area's natural resources.

"Bruce Elliot is excellent; he's an expert in Natural History, excited about his subject,
and a great instructor."


Explore Astronomy at Lick Observatory

The Lick Observatory, a world class observatory and historic site, was founded in 1888, and was the first mountain top observatory in the US! It sits high atop Mount Hamilton at 4,200 feet elevation. The property includes historic and important modern research telescopes, beautiful architecture, and breathtaking views of the valley below and sky above like no other!

The first class meeting takes place at the Cabrillo planetarium to explore basic astronomical concepts, historic and modern instruments and methods. A discussion of astronomical history and the development of telescopes will help prepare students to get the most out of our evening at the Lick Observatory.

Our second class meeting at the Lick Observatory includes a guided walking tour, a lecture on the history of Lick: the man and the observatory, and a visit to the dome of the famous 36 inch refractor. Weather permitting, we will look through this awesome instrument. It was once the largest—and remains the 2nd largest refracting telescope in the world!

Please note, the trip to Lick Observatory includes 365 turns as you wind your way up Mount Hamilton road to the observatory!

Plan to take it slow and take in the views as you make your way up the mountain. You may even plan to arrive at the site early for a picnic dinner as you enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the bay area you’ll ever see!

Bring warm clothes; the nights can be quite cool.

2 Fri. DATES COMING SOON!
First Friday: 6:30 - 9:30 pm in room 707 on Aptos Campus
Second Friday: 5:30 - 10:30 pm at the Lick Observatory

Register before January 27: $98
Register after January 27: $115
Register 2 or more: $95 each

register online

 

Karl von Ahnen is the retired director of the Fujitsu Planetarium at De Anza College, and is president of the Pacific Planetarium Association, representing planetariums in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii. He has been teaching 'Back Yard Astronomy' classes at Cabrillo College since 1988. His infatuation with astronomy started with a trip to Lick Observatory when he was 9 years old.

PHOTO CREDIT: @UC Regents/Lick Observatory

 


Strolling Through Time: Refreshing the Histories of Soquel and Aptos

After over 40 years of researching, writing, analyzing and arguing about the history of the two communities, Carolyn Swift and Sandy Lydon will lead two gently-paced walks and share their thoughts about how these two iconic towns evolved. You’ll hear two of the region’s premiere historians exchange their views as we explore with fresh eyes and open minds.

Estimated length: 3 miles with some small hills and stairs.

No children under 21 and no dogs please.

 

Walk 1: The Heart of Aptos

Sat., Sept. 28
10:00 am - 3:30 pm
For the Heart of Aptos walk, we will meet in Aptos at the Park and Ride lot, adjacent to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, across from the Aptos Branch Library.
Register before Sept. 9:  $64
Register after Sept. 9:  $72
Register 2 or more:  $58 each

register online

 


Walk 2: The Bridges of Soquel

Sat., Nov. 16
10:00 am - 3:30 pm
Meeting location: Soquel -- North end of Nob Hill parking lot - 809 Bay Ave, Capitola
Register before Sept. 9:  $64
Register after Sept. 9:  $72
Register 2 or more:  $58 each

register online

 

Sandy Lydon is emeritus historian at Cabrillo College where he has taught for 46 years. He has researched and written widely on the rich history of Santa Cruz County. An award-winning author and teacher, he has been described as Central California’s preeminent “standup historian.”

Carolyn Swift is an award-winning author, retired curator of the Capitola History Museum and current member of the Santa Cruz County Historical Resources Commission.

 


Landmarks, Legends and Local Lore of Santa Cruz County

image of cement ship

 

 

Santa Cruz is known for iconic places and events, like the Boardwalk, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Cement Ship, incomparable surf and sunsets, and even for being “weird.” Spend 3 Saturdays exploring our beloved local oddities and hear the stories behind them, with expert guides for three unique adventures.

Each week we will meet at a different location, with the first class at the Boardwalk for a behind-the-scenes tour. The second class starts with a talk at Cabrillo about the fascinating history of our local disasters, then followed by a field trip to several notorious disaster locations (of which there have been quite a few!). The final class starts at Cabrillo, and is followed by another field trip, this time to the Monterey Bay’s enigmatic curiosity, the Cement Ship, which turned 100 years old this year, at Seacliff State Beach.

  • The first Saturday offers a presentation and “behind-the-scenes” tour of the Boardwalk, led by Ted Whiting, who has worked at the Boardwalk since his middle- school years. Ted will share the rich, colorful history of this California Historic Landmark and one of Santa Cruz’s most beloved and enduring treasures.
  • For the second Saturday Gary Griggs will take students on a trip back through time, both in the classroom and then in the field. With unique photos, facts, and in-depth stories, Gary will lead students through the many natural perils that have faced Santa Cruz residents over the years, many of which are documented in his recent book “Between Paradise and Peril.”  
  • For the third Saturday Kim Steinhardt will take students through the fascinating story of the landmark Cement Ship of Aptos, the SS Palo Alto, and other lore of Seacliff State Beach, with an extraordinary photo journey, and a visit to shore and pier.

For each class please dress for the weather, wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and bring a lunch and something to drink!

Please go to the Class Resources web page for details about parking, meeting place, and other important information about this class.

A portion of the proceeds from this class will be used to support scholarships for Cabrillo Extension’s Summer Youth Program.

3 Sat., Sept. 21, 28 & Oct. 5

Sept. 21, 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, meet at Main Entrance

Sept. 28., 9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Cabrillo College, Room: 314 and off-site at various Santa Cruz County locations

October 5, 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Cabrillo College, Room: 314 and Seacliff State Beach

Register before Sept. 9:  $98
Register after Sept. 9:  $110
Register 2 or more:  $90 each

register online

 

Kim Steinhardt is a former administrative law judge who now writes about the coast and photographs marine wildlife. His photographic work and storytelling have been recognized by National Geographic Books, where he has served as a consultant and photo contributor regarding sea otters. His popular walks at Seacliff State Beach have introduced many to the historic Cement Ship.

Gary Griggs writes the popular bi-weekly Santa Cruz Sentinel column "Our Ocean Backyard,” and has made Santa Cruz County his home for fifty years. He has also written or co-written ten books about the California coast, including his recent Between Paradise and Peril: The Natural Disaster History of the Monterey Bay Region. He is a Distinguished Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UCSC.

Ted Whiting III was born and raised in Santa Cruz. He has worked at the Boardwalk since his middle-school years starting with his family’s business, Whiting Foods.  He has also been associated with the Seaside Company in varying capacities over four-decades. In semi-retirement mode, he is working on a Legacy Project for the company. This includes conveying the Boardwalk’s legacy to current staff and our community. His archival research adds to the work previously initiated by legendary Boardwalk historian Skip Littlefield. Ted’s 60-year association with the Boardwalk allows him to speak passionately of a bygone era.

 


Beekeeping Basics and Honeybee Biology

beekeeping

 

Whether you are interested in learning sustainable backyard beekeeping practices or just want a better understanding of how these delicate, intricate creatures benefit us and our planet, you will leave this class a-buzz with new energy!

This course covers hive structure, colony dynamics and delve into basic honeybee biology. We will discuss the history of beekeeping, from honey production to pollination contracts, and discuss current trends (and rifts) in colony management practices. Weather permitting, there will be a field trip to Emily's Apiary in Santa Cruz for a real-life "hive dive".

By the end of the course, students who are interested in obtaining their own hive will have a good working understanding of equipment, tools, management practices, bee biology, and how we can work together to support these very vital pollinators.

This class is appropriate for adults with little to no experience in keeping bees.

Sat., September 28
9:30 am - 3:00 pm
Room: Horticulture 5001

Register before Sept. 9: $68
Register after Sept. 9: $75
plus $5 materials fee payable at registration

register online


Emily Bondor is a bay area Beekeeper and Educator. Her expertise is in promoting responsible honeybee genetics and breeding queens from locally adapted genetic stock. She works in Napa Valley managing bee-hives and is currently pursuing Master Beekeeping Classes through the Honeybee Lab at UC Davis.




bees

Intermediate Beekeeping

This class is designed for students with knowledge of beekeeping, and those who have beehives. We will discuss keeping bees locally, the way to start a hive (package versus nucleus), and different option for foundation. The class will focus on IPM approaches, different options for tackling parasitic Varroa mites, and seasonal hive management techniques. We will review natural approaches to IPM in place of harsh chemicals.

Students will be encouraged to compare notes and strategies, and to foster community engagement and mentorship. Students will leave with detailed knowledge about treating for Varroa mites, and a seasonal outline for hive management. 

Sat., October 19
10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Room: Horticulture 5001

Register before Sept. 9: $68
Register after Sept. 9: $75
plus $5 materials fee payable at registration

register online

 

Emily Bondor is a bay area Beekeeper and Educator. Her expertise is in promoting responsible honeybee genetics and breeding queens from locally adapted genetic stock. She works in Napa Valley managing bee-hives and is currently pursuing Master Beekeeping Classes through the Honeybee Lab at UC Davis.

 


Sea Otters on the California Coast

 

 

Sea Otters are amazing, adorable, and vitally important to our coastal ecosystems. Discover the captivating sea otter survival story, and explore the beautiful sea otter habitat in Moss Landing, with an expert guide. This updated version of our ever-popular annual Sea Otter Adventure begins with a presentation and photographic journey, including the latest sea otter conservation news, then a break for lunch before heading to Moss Landing to search for the otters.  This annual adventure always yields rich photo opportunities, the chance to view the sea otters, and to make new friends!

Kim will also discuss some of the topics from The Edge: The Pressured Past and Precarious Future of California’s Coast, a new book he has co-authored with local marine expert Dr. Gary Griggs, exploring the sometimes-complex relationship between humans and nature.

The afternoon includes about a mile of light hiking. Students should bring a lunch. Detailed directions to the field trip location are provided in the morning lecture portion of class.

Please check our Class Resources web page for maps, directions, and other important information.

COMING SOON!
9:30 am - 4:00 pm
Room: 2501 and off-site in Moss Landing
Register before March 25: $68
Register after March 25: $72
Register 2 or more: $65 each

register online

 

Kim Steinhardt is a former administrative law judge who now writes about the coast and photographs marine wildlife. His photographic work and storytelling has been recognized by National Geographic Books, where he has served as a consultant and photo contributor regarding sea otters.

 


Wildlife, Wildflowers and Condors at Pinnacles West

 

This gem of a pristine wildland tucked into the center of the Inner Coast Range along the boundary of Monterey and San Benito County features towering, brightly-hued volcanic cliffs, cool riparian streamside woodland, riotous spring flower displays, and is home to nesting prairie and peregrine falcon and wide variety of songbird species. An extra inducement for this visit is the introduction and breeding of the California condor within the park, which now roam free at the Pinnacles. We may have opportunities to observe these birds during our time on the trail.

We will explore portions of this fascinating wildlife mecca at the height of the spring wildflower season and the onset of the annual bird migration. An excellent, easily navigated trail system provides comfortable access to excellent viewing opportunities.

Our early meeting time puts us in the park when parking is easier to find closer to our trailheads, so be sure to plan for travel time.

Park entrance fees apply, unless you have a National Park Service annual pass or Golden Eagle Passport.

Please check our Class Resources web page for meeting location, maps, directions, and other important information.

COMING SOON!
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Pinnacles National Monument - West

Register before March 25: $78
Register after March 25: $85

Register 2 or more: $70 each

 

register online

 

Bruce Elliott- see bio

 


Backyard Astronomer

beekeeping

 

Learn how to identify the stars and constellations in our local skies in this fun hands-on workshop. Using the Cabrillo planetarium and observatory discover the wonders of the universe and learn about astronomy history, methods, equipment, and recent discoveries. We’ll show some of the newest images from the Hubble of Mercury and talk about the 400+ newly discovered planets.

Participants should dress warmly for outdoor observation on the hill. In case of rain or fog, class assembles in the planetarium.

This class is appropriate for students aged 10 to adult.

COMING SOON!
6:30 - 9:30 pm
Room: 707

Register before March 25: $58
Register after March 25: $65
Plus a $5 materials fee paid at registration

 

Karl von Ahnen is the retired director of the Fujitsu Planetarium at De Anza College, and is president of the Pacific Planetarium Association, representing planetariums in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii. He has been teaching 'Back Yard Astronomy' classes at Cabrillo College since 1988. His infatuation with astronomy started with a trip to Lick Observatory when he was 9 years old.


 

Hiking: The Path Less Traveled

 

 

Explore the green belts and State Parks of Santa Cruz County in this fun and challenging hiking class. Although you will learn some natural history, flora and fauna, the emphasis is exercise and movement. Participants should have at least average fitness levels and be able to hike at a fairly fast pace of 2 1/2 miles per hour. This class is not for beginning hikers as we will be hiking on steep terrain. Each week will feature a different hike on trails not commonly known.

Please go to Extension’s Class Resources webpage for important information about what to bring and wear.

COMING SOON!
9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Meet at Parking Lot K, next to Gymnasium

Register before May 30:  $98
Register after May 30:  $114

 

Phil Kaplan has taught in the Kinesiology Department at Cabrillo for over 25 years and has been teaching hiking classes for the past 15 years.

 

 

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