Orientations, Trainings & Seminars (OTS)

Stewards proudly partners with archaeologists, biologists, botanists, geologists, historians, and naturalists, as well as other skilled educators and State Parks personnel, to offer a wide spectrum of hikes, seminars and presentations throughout the year.

Some events require a registration fee. These fees cover the cost of our speakers' time and materials needed, as well as provide funding for free environmental education programs for school children. Note: Stewards does not turn anyone away for inability to pay. For more info, contact Jazzy.

Most events require registration to secure your place. To register for an event, click on the "Sign Up Now" button below each event description (login required) or call our office at (707) 869-9177.

Want to see what's coming up? Download a free copy of our 2017 OTS Brochure!


2017 OTS Schedule

April ribbon

Learning Together, Teaching One Another (Teaching Resource Day)

Meets: Saturday, April 1, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Armstrong Redwoods Volunteer Center/Stewards Office
Instructor(s): You!

This Teaching Resource Day is all about sharing skills, lessons, games, songs, and other fun educational activities with fellow Docents. Plan to bring some thing to share (or maybe a few things). It could have been taught to you, a lesson from a book/internet, or an idea you came up with yourself. Don’t be discouraged if you are new to Environmental Education or feel you don’t have anything to share… come anyway and learn from those more experienced!


Exploring the Intertidal Zone Field Seminar

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Sunday, April 2, 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM, Shell Beach
Instructor(s): Karl Menard (Aquatic Resources Manager at UC Davis Bodeg aMarine Lab)

Join a lively session of tidepool exploration. Dress in layers and bring water-friendly shoes. This seminar is geared toward adults, but children over 7 years are welcome with parental supervision.


Tracking: Seeing Patterns on a Landscape

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Saturday, April 15, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM, Bodega Dunes Campground
Instructor(s): Meghan Walla-Murphy (Ecological Consultant)

Meghan will share the discipline and mechanics of tracking while she delves into the “Art of Seeing.” Observe animal behavior by tracking in a non-invasive way to research and conserve wildlife, which leaves both observer and observed at peace.


Easter Sunday Kids Low Tide Colorful "Critter" Hunt

Fee: $10 per family (sliding scale)
Meets: Sunday, April 16, 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM, Campbell Cove
Instructor(s): Stewards Staff, Naturalists & Docents

Bring your family out to the Sonoma Coast for an unforgettable experience! Kids will search the tidepools for colorful critters full of magic and delight. We will also have the Steward Ship on display, host a traditional colored egg hunt (bring your own baskets or pillow cases), have games & giveaways, and a craft table.

Remember to wear shoes that can get wet!



The Wonders of East Austin Creek for Intrepid Hikers

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Sunday, April 23, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, carpool from Armstrong Redwoods Volunteer Center/Stewards Office
Instructor(s): Dr. Laura Morgan (author of Three Jewels: A Field Guide to Three West Sonoma County Trail Systems)

Laura Morgan, floral enthusiast, will highlight the beauty of meandering Gilliam Creek Trail, and provide opportunities to observe and appreciate abundant flowering plants that brighten Austin Creek SRA. This carefully guided hike traverses over 2000 feet of elevation change on 7 miles of rough trail, to the creek and surrounding forest primeval. Plan to carry fluids and a picnic lunch. NOTE: This is a moderate to strenuous hike. Please plan accordingly.


May ribbon

Tread Lightly Trainer Course (Land Based Recreation Certification)

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members (includes tuition, certificate, presentation & resources)
Meets: Saturday, May 6, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, AR Volunteer Center (Stewards Office)
Instructor(s): Father Nayture (Tread Lightly! Master Trainer)

This is for anyone that has already completed a free online Awareness Course and wants to advance to the next level. The Tread Lightly!®’s Tread Trainer™ course is designed to minimize impact on roads, trails and wildlands. Participants will come away with an understanding of outdoor ethics, learn the Tread Lightly!® principles of responsible recreation, and be provided with tools to spread the word to other outdoor enthusiasts. Trainers will also need to purchase a Tread Lightly membership at

Introduction to the Coastal Prairie

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Saturday, May 13, 9:30 AM - 2:30 PM, Shell Beach
Instructor(s): Jim Coleman (Occidental Arts & Ecology Center)

Learn about the most diverse and endangered native grassland in North America and the threats to its existence. Then hike through some of the remaining 1% of California’s native prairie along the Kortum and Pomo trails.

Birding on the Sonoma Coast

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Saturday, May 20, 8:00 AM - 11:00 AM, Jenner Visitor Center
Instructor(s): Lisa Hug (North Bay Naturalist & Birding Guide)

Explore birds of the Sonoma Coast near the mouth of the Russian River. Learn about gulls, grebes, loons, murres, and more!

Wildlife Viewing by Kayak

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Saturday, May 20, 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM, Jenner Visitor Center
Instructor(s): Suki Waters (Owner of Watertreks Eco-Tours)

Explore how to view wildlife (harbor seals, shorebirds, and waterfowl) safely by kayak, with special consideration for keeping appropriate distance and being mindful of tides, wind, and water conditions at the mouth of the Russian River. Participants are welcome to bring their own boats. $30 rental fee (cash or credit, no checks) includes a kayak, life jacket, and paddle. No drop-ins. Space is limited, you must pre-register. No prior kayaking experience required – beginners welcome!

Seal Watch Volunteer Training

Meets: Saturday, May 20, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM, Jenner Visitor Center & Goat Rock State Beach
Instructor(s): Stewards Staff & Seal Watch Coordinators

This is our mid-season volunteer training for anyone who wants to join Seal Watch, but couldn’t attend in March. The training won’t start until all kayakers are off the water, so interested participants can plan to attend both! New volunteers will have an opportunity to observe and meet experienced Seal Watchers as they do an afternoon shift at Goat Rock beach.

Cultural History of the Lower Russian River

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Sunday, May 21, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM, AR Volunteer Center (Stewards Office)
Instructor(s): Daniel Murley (Historian & Retired State Park Ranger)

Learn about the cultural history of Sonoma Coast State Park, including the Kashaya Pomo, Russian American Fur Company, ranching families, and logging operations.


June ribbon

Wildflowers of the Sonoma Coast

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Saturday, June 3, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM, Shell Beach
Instructor(s): Peter Warner (Botanical Consultant & former National and State Parks ecologist)

Come celebrate “National Trails Day” with Peter Warner as he takes participants through coastal grassland, shrubland, and smaller patches of forest. The trail is about 5 miles, with some moderately steep, and wet or muddy stretches, along rolling, well-worn, dirt and gravel tread (not suitable for strollers, walkers, or wheelchairs). NOTE: This is a moderate hike. Please plan accordingly.

The Legacy of Pond Farm

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Sunday, June 4, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM, carpool from Stewards Office to Pond Farm
Instructor(s): Anthony Veerkamp (National Trust for Historic Preservation), Laura Parent (California State Parks)

Learn about the inspiring story of internationally renowned ceramic potter Marguerite Wildenhain and her workshop and school at Pond Farm Pottery.

General Volunteers in Parks Program (VIPP) Orientation #2

Meets: Saturday, June 24, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM, AR Volunteer Center (Stewards Office)
Instructor(s): Stewards Staff & Program Coordinators

General Orientation covering available volunteer opportunities in the southern Russian River Sector of the Sonoma-Mendocino State Parks District. One General Orientation is REQUIRED for all new volunteers.

Mobile Marine Van/Steward Ship Volunteer Training #2

Meets: Saturday, June 24, 1:00 PM - 4:30 PM, AR Volunteer Center (Stewards Office)
Instructor(s): Stewards Staff & Naturalists

Learn to staff the “Steward Ship,” our Mobile Marine Education Van at schools, special events, and along the Sonoma Coast. Volunteers interpret marine artifacts, facilitate hands-on activities, perform retail transactions, and assist with community outreach! We will also focus on how to effectively engage children.

Tri Yoga Under the Redwoods

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Sunday, June 25, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM, location Armstrong or Austin Creek
Instructor(s): Mariann Weed (Tri Yoga Instructor)

Mariann will introduce you to Tri Yoga, a full spectrum ancient practice. Deep breathing is followed by postures (asanas) and flows to build strength, flexibility, and calmness. The session will end with meditation. All skill levels welcome. Please bring your own yoga mat, blocks, and straps (if you have them).

July ribbon

NOLS/WMI Wilderness First Aid

Fee: $204 members, $255 non-members
Meets: Saturday & Sunday, July 1 & 2, 7:45 AM - 5:00 PM, AR Volunteer Center (Stewards Office)
Instructor(s): Daniel De Kay (WEMT)

Learn how to assess and provide first aid treatments for common injuries and illnesses. Instruction takes place both in the classroom and in outdoor settings regardless of weather conditions. Participants must be 16 years of age or older. No previous first aid training is required. Successful course completion earns a WMI Wilderness First Aid certification (valid for two years). CPR not included.

August ribbon

General Volunteer in Parks Program (VIPP) Orientation #3

Meets: Saturday, August 19, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM, AR Volunteer Center (Stewards Office)
Instructor(s): Stewards Staff & Program Coordinators

General Orientation covering available volunteer opportunities in the southern Russian River Sector of the Sonoma-Mendocino State Parks District. One General Orientation is REQUIRED for all new volunteers.

Mobile Marine Van/Steward Ship Volunteer Training #3

Meets: Saturday, August 19, 1:00 PM - 4:30 PM, AR Volunteer Center (Stewards Office)
Instructor(s): Stewards Staff & Naturalists

This will be a repeat of our first two trainings (see description above). Come learn how you can staff the Steward Ship for school trips, on the coast and at community events.

The Life & Legacy of the Burbanks, Armstrongs & Jones

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Tuesday, August 29, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, AR Volunteer Center (Stewards Office)
Instructor(s): Doris Dickenson (author of Armstrong & Jones books/DVDs), Erin Sheffield (Manager at Luther Burbank ExperimentalFarm), Christy Staats (Stewards Volunteer)

Come celebrate Colonel Armstrong’s birthday (born August 29, 1824) by learning the story behind the preservation of Armstrong Redwoods.

Armstrong Redwoods Docent Training

Meets: Thursday, August 31, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM, Armstrong Visitor Center
Instructor(s): Stewards Staff & Docents

Learn to share fascinating redwood ecology tours and/or activities with adults and school children. Docents need to be available on weekdays for school groups. Roving Docents greet visitors along the trails or at the new Welcome Center. Mentoring and resource materials provided.

September ribbon

From Forest Exploitation toward Stewardship: The Remarkable Story of the Evolution of California's Redwood Industry

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Thursday, September 7, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, AR Volunteer Center (Stewards Office)
Instructor(s): Jason Grant (Sierra Club Forest Certification & Green Building Team member)

When Euro-Americans flooded into Northern California during and after the Gold Rush, they marveled at the grandeur of the region’s virgin redwood forest – and began logging it. Today, around 4% of the original old growth remains. Much of the remainder is second-growth forest where logging continues. Jason will present his film on logging history and the transition toward today’s enlightened forest management practices.


EcoAdventure: Fall Equinox Star Party Campout

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members, children 12 yrs & under FREE (additional camping & parking fees apply)
Meets: Friday, September 22, 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM, Vista Point (Austin Creek SRA)
Instructor(s): Jim Goodenough & Linda Sinkay (Astronomers)

Summer is gone, and winter is coming. At the equinox, days and nights areapproximately equal in length, but nightfall will start coming sooner. Join Stewardsand Wine Country Star Party as we celebrate this astronomical event andseasonal changes with a night of stargazing! Bring the entire family to learnabout the universe, solar system, and constellations. Vista Point is dark anddramatic with incredible views to the west. We recommend that families wantingto spend the night book a campsite at Bullfrog Pond Campground ( well in advance.

October ribbon

Willow Creek Watershed Education & Environmental Living Program Volunteer Training

Meets: Friday, October 6, 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM, Jenner Visitor Center, Shell Beach & Pomo Canyon Campground
Instructor(s): Stewards Staff & Docents

With your guided instruction, students learn how humans influence watersheds. This program highlights four cultural groups (Loggers, Ranchers, Russians, & Pomo) whose unique lifestyles were supported by the WC watershed. Students imagine how road construction, timber harvesting, and livestock grazing led to surface erosion and increased sediment in the watershed.Docents also guide students as they monitor water quality, sample benthic macro-invertebrates, and solve the mystery of why salmon disappeared. We will start the day with a general overview inside the Jenner Visitor Center, then drive to Shell Beach for the Environmental Living Program training, and end at Pomo Canyon Campground for the Watershed Program training.

EcoAdventre: Pelagic Seabird & Whale Watching Expedition

Fee: $160 members, $200 non-members
Meets: Sunday, October 8 (weather dependent), 7:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Boat departs from Bodega Bay Harbor
Instructor(s): Naturalists Peter Pyle, Steve Howell, and Sarah Allen

Join Stewards for a full day boat trip out to Cordell Bank on the 65 foot NewSea Angler. This marine sanctuary is a feeding destination for many migratorymarine mammals and seabirds. Early Fall is the best time of year for humpbackand blue whales. We may also encounter Pacific white-sided dolphins,Dall's porpoise, California and Steller sea lions, elephant seals, and numerousseabirds (including shearwaters, petrels, albatrosses, etc). Boat may encounterchallenging ocean conditions (personal discretion advised for those prone tomotion sickness) Plan to arrive early - the boat will depart at 7 am sharp.

Note: As space is limited, the max attendance will be 40 participants.

Geology of the Sonoma Coast

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Saturday, October 14, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Goat Rock State Beach
Instructor(s): Scott Lawyer (Geologist & Stewards Operations Manager)

Learn about unique geologic history, landforms, plate tectonics and their significance on our coast during this popular and engaging seminar with Scott Lawyer.

Archaeology & History of the Sonoma Coast

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Sunday, October 22, 9:00 AM-2:00 PM, Bodega Bay Fire Protection District
Instructor(s): Tom Origer (Archaeologist)

Join this popular field seminar about the fascinating changes that have taken place from an archaeological and historic perspective on the Sonoma Coast. This seminar will start inside and transition outdoors.

Emerging Climate Research

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Thursday, October 26, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, AR Volunteer Center (Stewards Office)
Instructor(s): Deborah Zierten (Education and Interpretation Manager, Save the Redwoods League)

Rising temperatures mean less coastal fog. Save the Redwoods League’s scientists are industriously studying impacts of climate change on redwood growth, carbon storage, and forest biodiversity. Come learn about recent findings that show how our ancient coast redwood and giant sequoia forests are faring as our climate changes.

November ribbon

Birding for Beginners

Fee: $16 members, $20 non-members
Meets: Saturday, November 4, 7:00 AM - 10:00 AM, Location TBA (Sonoma Coast State Park)
Instructor(s): Jazzy Dingler (Wildlife Biologist & Stewards’ Programs Manager)

Calling all early birds! This pre-dawn excursion will include an easy to moderate walk to spot a variety of resident and migratory bird species – you can expect to see and hear songbirds, shorebirds, and hawks. Learn birding basics: how to spot birds, places to go, finding the best field guides and optics for taking up a new hobby, etc.


Whale Watch Volunteer Training

Meets: Sunday, November 5, 9:30 AM - 2:00 PM, Bodega Bay Fire Protection Distric t& Bodega Head
Instructor(s): Stewards Staff & Docents

Assist the public in viewing the annual Pacific gray whale migration. Docents are at Bodega Head on weekends January through May.


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