Entering 10-12

Field Ecology

Are you interested in the fields of Biology and Ecology? Step into the shoes of an ecologist and learn how scientists are studying and protecting ecosystems in the face of climate change and increasing wildfires. Your days will be filled with learning and practicing various field research methods to observe and study organisms and their interactions, biodiversity, and the health of ecosystems. You will be able to design and conduct your own field-based research investigation. This program also includes downtime, hikes, and other social activities to make new friends. Join us to gain skills, knowledge, and insight into the field of terrestrial ecology while adding valuable experience to your college and career pathways. Parents are invited at 2 p.m. on the last day to see and hear teens share their projects and receive their U.C. Berkeley certificate of completion.

Teens in the Field Ecology Teen Research Program conduct leaf investigations

Program Info

Dates: 07/21/2024 – 07/26/2024, Sunday to Friday, 4:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m.

Location: U.C. Santa Cruz *transportation not provided

Residential Only: campus housing and all meals provided

Program Tuition: $2,500 or $2,250 (reduced)

Residential only
Seeking Financial Aid? Learn More >
The camp cancelation date has passed. Refunds are no longer available.

A Day in the Life

Your days begin with breakfast, an opening program, and the plan for the day. In this morning, we may find ourselves out in the field, at the nearby redwood forest, or exploring the local fields. For 6 days, you will come to understand these ecosystems better by observing connections between organisms and their habitat and by sampling organism populations, then comparing our data to those from long-term monitoring projects to tell us about change occurring over time. Weather permitting, we will take our lunch breaks outdoors in the field. In the afternoons, you head to our own lab space to take a closer look at the samples you’ve collected or perhaps to begin your own investigations. During the program, you will meet some graduate students to learn about their research and their pathway into field ecology. During our time together, teens will design and carry out investigations that try to answer some of the questions that have come up in the field about how organisms interact with their environment. In the evenings, after dinner at the dorms, you get to mix with teens in the adjacent program, play games, take a night hike, or enjoy other social activities together. By 10:30 p.m., it’s lights-out to allow for a well-earned rest and prepare you for an early start the next day. 

Forest wildlife
Forest lichen
Field Ecology instructor in Forest
Field Ecology group shot
Field Ecology teens hike out to do research

Frequently Asked Questions

Is transportation provided to the U. C. Santa Cruz Campus?

No, we do not provide transportation to and from the U.C. Santa Cruz campus. Parents or legal guardians must arrange to drop off or pick up their teens. More detailed information will be provided after registration for the program.

How will teens be transported during the program week?

Once on-site, transportation for programming needs is provided for the duration of the program.

What is the flow of a day of programming?

Each day includes various activities, starting with morning opening, breakfast, and science activities and investigations, followed by lunch, downtime, social time, and special evening activities. See the section “A day in the life” for more info.

What are the physical requirements for participation?

Teens need to be able to walk to and from investigation sites near the ocean and over sand and rocks. For Field Ecology, this may include through forest and brush. The weather can change from one day to the next, so be prepared for a range of clothing needs. It’s always a good idea to have clothing that can get dirty when we are outdoors.

What are the accommodations like? 

Accommodations at the U.C. Santa Cruz campus are student dorm-style rooms that are triple-occupancy with shared gender-specific bathrooms. Our program instructors are housed in the same buildings as the participants. A third gender-neutral restroom will also be available to youth who prefer that option. 

Are the meals provided?

Meals are served in the style of a student dining room. Campus staff provide two cooked meals (breakfast and dinner), plus supplies for a packed lunch each day. With prior notice, they can also accommodate most dietary requirements. In addition, we will provide snacks.

Will we have downtime to simply hang with other teens?

Yes, absolutely! We plan the week to allow for plenty of teen social time throughout the day and every evening, including meeting teens from the adjacent research track.

Is there Wi-Fi or cell service?

Cell coverage is unpredictable at all the sites visited during this program. That said, we will have Wi-Fi access at certain times, based on location and activities.

What do I need to bring?

You will receive a packing list once registered for the program, along with the name of a contact person to answer any questions you have.

Do you pick up/drop off at an airport for my out-of-town teen?

We do not provide transportation to and from the airport. It would be best to make those arrangements with plenty of transition time. Partial participation is not allowed.

As a parent, can I travel out of town while my teen is in the program?

We can’t tell you how to spend your summer vacation. That said, we require the parents and/or designated legal guardians to be accessible to contact and available for a pick up in case of emergency. Perhaps the Everest trek can wait for another week during your summer.