How Pepperwood is Creating an Ethic of Conservation

For more than a decade Pepperwood has worked to connect children, youth, and adults with nature. Today the amount of time both kids and adults spend outside is alarmingly low — only minutes per day — while screen time is at an all-time high. Pepperwood has set a new goal to stem the tide and find ways to connect children, youth, and adults with the outdoors and the wonder and awe that nature inspires. Abundant research shows that more time spent in nature leads to improved emotional well being, a healthier lifestyle, and a drive to conserve natural landscapes. The purpose of the Inspiring Connections with Nature Initiative is to connect people to nature and inspire a lifelong conservation ethic through exploration, observation, science, and artistic expression.

It will build upon current programming that includes our Students Conducting Environmental Inquiry (SCENIQ) program for elementary school children, TeenNat for youth ages 8-18, summer youth institutes, family-oriented outdoor experiences, and a host of community education classes and retreats. New and expanded activities through 2025 will include: partnerships with visual arts organizations to host art installations and gallery shows at Pepperwood; a new performing arts series on the preserve; new opportunities for filmmakers, photographers, and other visual artists to engage with the land; new outreach to local Latinx audiences; and potential partnerships with digital media experts to virtually amplify our programming.

This timely initiative will encourage children, youth, and adults of diverse backgrounds to actively engage with the outdoors, learn about the natural world, and be inspired to protect nature and live sustainably.

Nature discovery for all ages

With the vital support of our donors, Pepperwood makes environmental education affordable, accessible, and a whole lot of fun! We empower community members from diverse backgrounds to explore, examine, hypothesize, and express themselves through our vibrant classes and programs, and equip them with knowledge and hands-on skills applicable far beyond our preserve. Pepperwood also deepens the educational experience and inspires stewardship by connecting people with opportunities, peer mentors, and greater knowledge of local environmental issues and actions they can take. We are thrilled that as an inspiring showcase of natural habitats, Pepperwood is igniting a love for learning!

Community Education - Deepen your connection to the natural world

Hiking! Animal tracking! Foraging for edible plants! Painting! Anchored in the natural wonders of Pepperwood’s 3,200 acres, our Community Education program offers classes and workshops that educate and inspire. Whether you are cultivating a new love for the outdoors or deepening a lifelong connection, there is always something for you at Pepperwood! 

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School Field Trips - SCENIQ

SCENIQ (students conducting environmental inquiry) is a classroom program for area elementary schools that inspires the curiosity and excitement of our area’s youngest scientists. Designed in accordance to grade-level state science standards, Pepperwood's SCENIQ brings science to life and enhances learning through experiential discovery during a year-long program. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, this program serves over 800 students each year, with a focus on serving those who wouldn't otherwise have access to quality environmental education.

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Summer Institute for Teens - TeenNat

Teens get up close and personal with butterflies, lizards, plants, lichens and the abundance of other plant and animal life during TeenNat, a 5-week long summer internship with continuing mentorship and networking opportunities. Interns participate in real research at Pepperwood and learn about career pathways in the sciences during a critical time in their education. TeenNat was recognized for its innovation with a Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship after its debut season in 2013.

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Español - Bilingual instruction for our diverse community

Many of Pepperwood's family-oriented classes and hikes have a bilingual educator present, and our SCENIQ nature journals contain both English and Spanish to better serve our community. Tenemos varias clases, eventos, y caminatas cada temporada en Español e Inglés. 

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Naturalist-led Private Hikes - Learning Landscapes

These fee-for-service naturalist-led hikes can be catered to groups of all ages. Observe birds, find animal tracks, search for hidden forest creatures, and support Pepperwood’s biodiversity and research projects - all while stretching your legs and getting outside in the fresh air. Learning Landscape participants will explore our forests, meadows, and grasslands within a small group setting with expert guidance and interpretation.

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Discover Nature With Us

Check out Pepperwood's extensive collection of educational offerings from immersive excursion experiences to hands on learning and classes.

Classes & Events

Inspired Connections – Partners in Nature Education

Pepperwood has several local educational partnerships to bridge nature education throughout Sonoma County. These partnerships signal a shared commitment to nature education in our region, helping to uplift the next generation of environmental stewards and scientists.

SEEC - Sonoma Environmental Education Collaborative

Pepperwood serves as the fiscal sponsor for SEEC, a regional consortium of environmental education professionals from organizations, agencies, networks, and school districts. The SEEC mission is to catalyze cooperation between organizations to cultivate professional excellence and amplify impacts. As a collaborative, SEEC undertakes its mission by collaborating to:

  • Increase Sonoma County resident’s enjoyment, engagement, stewardship and support for the environment.
  • Increase individual and collective knowledge, skills, and best practices within our profession.
  • Increase individual and collective knowledge about our communities.
  • Increase individual and collective knowledge about the environmental, social and political climate of our region.

SEEC Website

SRJC Partnership - Preparing tomorrow's STEM leaders today

Pepperwood is thrilled to continue our extensive partnership with the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC). Our preserve serves as a living laboratory and enables students to experience firsthand the ecological concepts they are studying. Pepperwood provides SRJC students with career-boosting field experience through internships and volunteer opportunities.

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