Registration for the 2024-25 Naturalist Training will open in the summer. In the meantime, learn more about our program below.

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*Scholarships Available – see base of announcement for details

Newport Bay Conservancy (NBC) is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Upper Newport Bay. The cornerstone of our educational mission is the Naturalist Training course offered annually since 1990, featuring classes and field trips led by experts that provide in-depth knowledge about the natural history and ecology of the Bay and prepare volunteers to share this knowledge with the public as the leaders of our programs. Our Naturalists go on to guide public kayak and walking tours in the Bay, educate students from elementary school through college, lead restoration projects, and share our story with the broader community of our watershed. The course is offered at a nominal fee of $35.


Program Overview
To support leadership development, the course consists of 2 parts: 

  1. Knowledge-Acquisition component (mid Sept-mid Dec): This includes class sessions on different topics every Thursday evening and Saturday morning over this 12-week period. Trainees will gather knowledge about different aspects of the Bay’s natural history.
  2. Skill-Building and Practice component (Jan-Jun): This flexible component asks trainees to choose a minimum of two 3-part program training series (out of a total of 6 training options), and collaborate with other trainees to run a new program. During this period, trainees are building the skills and confidence to take on lead roles in our programs.

At the completion of the program, trainees earn a Newport Bay Conservancy Naturalist name badge and certificate and are honored at a summer volunteer celebration.

For those not yet volunteers with us, the prerequisite for this course is Associate Volunteer Orientation/Training. Learn more about becoming an Associate Volunteer HERE.


~ ~ ~ The full program schedule and requirements for the 2023-24 training can be viewed HERE. ~ ~ ~

Interested in joining us next time? Contact Community Programs Administrator, Hilary Cunningham at to be added to our interest list.


NBC was pleased to offer scholarships to people from diverse groups in support of their participation in the 2023-2024 Naturalist Training. The scholarships were in the amount of $250 or more (plus a waiver of the $35 fee) with no specific parameters on how the funds were to be spent. Candidates self-identified in their applications as a member of an under-represented group along lines of race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, or gender/sexuality identification. The deadline for the 2023-24 season has now passed, but stay tuned for scholarship opportunities for the 2024-25 season opening in summer 2024. Application information will be posted to this page.


Any questions can be directed to