Teens contributing to conservation science

Imagine spending your summer in the forests and grasslands of Pepperwood helping scientists better understand our local ecosystem. Picture kneeling in the grass to take a great photo of a sparkling blue beetle.

Every summer this is how two dozen TeenNat participants do real on-the-ground science at Pepperwood. Through TeenNat, teenagers find an opportunity to engage with nature and learn from experts about how they can make a difference in the world around them. TeenNat is an award-winning evidence-based program to prepare teens to take their place among those striving to conserve, protect and enhance our natural world. Most importantly, TeenNat participants learn how to apply scientific inquiry and observation of the natural world to their own interests – making science less theoretical and more personal.

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Pepperwood’s nationally recognized five-week TeenNat summer program gets teens outdoors and introduces them to the world of conservation science.

TeenNat participants learn about ecological concepts like biodiversity and species distribution, and develop valuable skills including data collection and management. Throughout the program they interact with researchers and other natural science professionals, gaining insights into career pathways.

TeenNat 2021

This free program at Pepperwood is an opportunity for teens, ages 15-18, to engage in science and art while exploring a 3,200 acre nature preserve. Participants will gain skills in hiking safety, data collection, using field guides to identify common plants and animals, and navigating using compasses and maps. We will visit multiple unique places across the preserve including ponds, beautiful vistas, oak woodlands, and grasslands. Participants will work with Pepperwood scientists and will meet experts in STEM careers. At the completion of the program, participants will have created a science, art, or research project that will be shared with the community.

Dates of TeenNat 2021
*Required Orientation Monday, June 21 via Zoom, 6:30-8:00pm

Week 1: Zoom on June 28th AND in person on June 29, 30 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Week 2: No Monday Zoom. In person on July 6, 7 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Week 3: Zoom on July 12 AND in person on July 13, 14 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Week 4: Zoom on July 19 AND in person on July 20, 21 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Week 5: Zoom on July 26 AND in person on July 27, 28 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm

Monday Zoom meetings: June 28, July 12, 19, and 26 from 10am - 11:30am
*Note - Zoom meeting on July 19th will go from 10am - 12pm for career day*

Schedule Commitment
- Monday Zoom meetings: June 28, July 12, 19, and 26
- 2 field days per week at Pepperwood, on Tuesday and Wednesday
- Several hours independent project work

- Gain field science experience for your resume or college applications
- Work with professional scientists and environmental educators as mentors
- Potential to earn community service hours for school
- Invitation to special events and volunteer opportunities as TeenNat Alumni
- Earn a REI gift certificate at the completion of the program

How to Apply

We are now accepting applications for 2021!

TeenNat is made possible by the generous support of our members and donors. There is no charge to participate. Teens ages 15-18 can apply by filling out an application available below.

TeenNat 2021 Flyer     Apply Online Here

Applications for TeenNat 2021 are due May 9th, 2021.

The online application gives you the option to save your progress and finish the application later.

For questions or issues with the application process, please email teennat@pepperwoodpreserve.org.

Are you a TeenNat alumni interested in working at Pepperwood this summer? We are hiring two Summer Education Assistants to help with TeenNat 2021! Learn more and find out how to apply here.


Esta pasantía gratis es una oportunidad para un grupo de adolescentes, de 15-18 años de edad para llevar a cabo las ciencias y el arte, mientras que explorar un preservo natural de 3,200 acres. Durante esta programa de cinco semanas los participantes adquirirán los conocimientos ambientales, aprendan habilidades técnicas, estarán activos afuera, y contribuirán a la investigación científica con la ayuda de nuestros científicos.

TeenNat: Fechas, horarios e información


Para aplicar

Por favor llene completamente la aplicación electrónica que se encuentra abajo, antes del 9 de mayo, 2021.

Aplica Aquí

La aplicación en línea le da la opción de guardar su progreso y completar la aplicación más tarde.

Para más información envia un correo electrónico a: teennat@pepperwoodpreserve.org.

Se habla español y ingles.



Inclusion in the Upstream Investment Portfolio

TeenNat was endorsed by Sonoma County's Upstream Investments Portfolio! The Portfolio is a select collection of local, evidence-based programs proven to help eliminate poverty in Sonoma County and ensure equal opportunity for quality education.

TeenNat interns collect data, photo by Richard Morgenstein.

ABOVE: TeenNat interns collect data on Pepperwood's redwoods. Photos by Richard Morgenstein.

Making an Impact

TeenNat interns gain valuable, real-world experience in conservation science. During field time, they are given instruction on the use of equipment, plant and animal identification, use of field guides, the nature of scientific inquiry, and wilderness safety. TeenNat interns also learn about natural science careers and the program includes a career day in which interns get to interview professionals. At the program’s close, the interns’ projects are shared via a public gallery exhibit.

Data that Matters

TeenNat interns are trained to use cameras and Global Positioning System (GPS) units to document plant and animal species and their locations via expeditions on the preserves. Interns learn how to use laptop computers to manage visual, written, and geographical data as they share, verify, and upload their observations to iNaturalist.org, a worldwide database for researchers and the scientific community. Each year, TeenNat interns also contribute critical data to Pepperwood's science projects.

Ongoing Mentorship

Upon completion of the summer program, TeenNat alumni can elect to be part of the TeenNat Leadership Program. TeenNat Leaders commit to a greater level of service by continuing to gather biodiversity data, assisting new interns, participating in other citizen science initiatives, serving as volunteers at Pepperwood events, and writing about their experiences. They take part in other Pepperwood events including our Discover Nature lectures, and the Christmas Bird Count for Kids. They also assist with subsequent internships and help facilitate discussion on our TeenNat Facebook Group.

Virtual TeenNat 2020

Due to the impacts of the pandemic during the summer of 2020, our education team made the hard decision to transition TeenNat to a virtual program for 2020.  These teens explored nature close to home in their backyards, neighborhoods, and local parks. Virtual TeenNat culminated with student-driven projects including creative short films, nature journals, storybooks, photography, and poetry, as well as trash clean-ups and research projects on plants, animals, and ecosystems they chose to study.  We invite you to explore the diverse gallery of projects the teens completed, and to hear about their work in their own words!

Virtual TeenNat Project Gallery