Connecting Californians with the Chaparral

  • Richard W. Halsey
  • Victoria W. Halsey
  • Rochelle Gaudette
Part of the Springer Series on Environmental Management book series (SSEM)


Chaparral is California’s most extensive, native ecosystem. We examined nature centers, publications, curricula, and volunteer naturalist programs in southern California to determine how the chaparral is being presented to the public. We found that a number of centers do an excellent job presenting accurate content. However, the majority need updates to reflect current science and the major contribution chaparral makes to the state’s biodiversity. Easily accessible publications and curricula with accurate information about the chaparral are lacking. More than half of the nature centers reviewed offer extensive naturalist training courses. Passion and enthusiasm of staff and volunteers are as important as content in creating and maintaining successful volunteer naturalist programs as well as the nature centers themselves. Utilizing active learning methodology versus lecturing can be a key factor in a program’s success. We offer an approach to nature education that combines active learning where students participate in the teaching process, and meaningful interpretation that establishes personal connections with nature. The greater understanding resulting from this approach can inspire a diverse, new generation of long-term nature advocates and help create an informed public, facilitating an appreciation for the value of the chaparral ecosystem.


Active learning California native plants Chaparral Naturalist Nature center Nature education 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard W. Halsey
    • 1
  • Victoria W. Halsey
    • 2
  • Rochelle Gaudette
    • 3
  1. 1.California Chaparral InstituteEscondidoUSA
  2. 2.Ken Blanchard CompaniesEscondidoUSA
  3. 3.CanyoneersSan Diego Natural History MuseumSan DiegoUSA

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