Entering 10 – 12

Forest Ecology

Are you interested in biology and forest management? Step into the shoes of a 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 a variety of field research methods to observe and study organisms and their interactions, biodiversity, and the health of forest ecosystems, as well as the opportunity to design and conduct your own field-based research investigation. This program, based at the Hastings Natural History Reservation,  includes downtime, hikes, and other social activities to make new friends. Join us to gain skills, knowledge, and insight into the field of forest ecology while adding valuable experience to your college and career pathways.

Four students are working together during an investigation of stream water in the Forest Ecology Teen Research Program.

Camp Info

Dates: 10:00 a.m. Sunday – 4:00 p.m Friday, 06/25/2023 – 06/30/2023

Location: UC Berkeley Hastings Natural History Reservation, Carmel Valley

Housing: On-site housing is included in the cost of this program. Runs Sunday, June 25 through Friday, June 30.

Food: 2 cooked meals daily, plus supplies for a packed lunch each day.

Program Tuition: $2,250 or $1,995(reduced)

SOLD OUT – Waitlist

A Day in the Life

Our days begin with optional hikes and/or morning rituals that teens are invited to lead from their own practices and experience. Then we share a communal breakfast and go over the plan for the day. Earlier in the day we may find ourselves out in a field, at the creek, or deep in the forest. We will learn observational practices as well as methods of field research and investigation. Over the course of 6 days we will come to understand the ecosystems better: by observing connections between organisms and their habitat. During the program we will meet some of the graduate students to learn about their research and pathway into environmental sciences, and how climate change is impacting flora and fauna, including forest fires. Over the course of our time together, teams will design and carry out experiments that try to answer some of the questions that have come up in the field. In the evenings, after dinner, we may play cards or a board game, take a night hike, or sit around the campfire (only when permitted). By 10:30 p.m. it’s back to the cabins to allow for a well-earned rest for the next day of activities. Accommodations are camp style cabins with 2-3 teens per room and gender specific bathrooms. We also have access to our own kitchen and dining room spaces.

Staff Bio

Rachel Walsh, Ph.D.

Rachel Walsh, Ph.D., is a curriculum developer at the Lawrence Hall of Science. She has taught camps and classes at the Lawrence since 2016, and has previously taught at the undergraduate level at UC Berkeley as a teaching assistant for field biology, animal behavior, and other biology classes. She is currently part of the team that writes the Amplify Science curriculum, a K-8 science curriculum used in schools throughout the U.S.

Rachel has a B.A. in biology from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in biology from UC Berkeley.  She has focused her studies on animal behavior and ecology, and has experience with field research on a variety of species, including spiders, parrots, monkeys, and chipmunks. For her Ph.D., she focused on habitat use by chipmunks, in the context of understanding their responses to climate change. In her spare time, Rachel coaches gymnastics and also enjoys hiking, running, and board games.

Shreya Chaudhuri

Shreya Chaudhuri is a rising third-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, and she hails from the Bay Area in Fremont, California, where she was born and raised. Shreya is double majoring in Environmental Science and Human Geography with an intended minor in Data Science. She is passionate about environmental justice and in finding climate solutions that are rooted in Indigenous knowledge to help front-line communities globally. Additionally, she works on running Project Planet, an organization about Decolonial environmental education that she founded.

Outside of her environmental work, you can find Shreya listening to music, gardening, reading at cafes, practicing mehendi, or exploring Berkeley with her friends.

Hennessy Jones

Hennessy Jones is an environmental enthusiast from sunny Santa Barbara. She has been fascinated by surrounding ecosystems and their inhabitants, and continues to learn more about them each day. Her love for the environment and the outdoors has led her to pursue that interest academically and professionally. 

Currently, Hennessy is a BA student at UC Berkeley in the College of Natural Resources, where she is double majoring in Society and Environment and Media Studies— furthering her passion for both environmental and cultural studies. Along with pursuing her academic goals, Hennessy is also committed to contributing to the battle against environmental injustice through teaching Alameda County elementary school classes about environmental issues with her peers via Berkeley’s ASUC Environmental Organization, and volunteering at the Berkeley Student Food Collective. In her spare time, she loves to rock climb, take film pictures, and explore the outdoors.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will I get to the residential site?

We provide transportation to and from the site. Parents/legal guardians can arrange to drop off or pick up their teens at Sagehen if preferred. We will not be able to arrange special pickups or drop-offs midweek. A mode of transportation will stay with us for the entire length of the program for any travel or evacuation needs.

What is the flow of a day of programming?

Each day includes various activities and starts with morning opening, breakfast, science activities and investigations, and then lunch, downtime, social time, and special activities.

Why did the location change from Sagehen to Hastings?

With the abundant snowfall this season and in anticipation of accessibility issues to the Sagehen facilities and grounds, we have moved this program to an alternative location that is closer and at lower elevation.

What are the physical requirements for participation?

Teens need to be able to walk to and from investigation sites, in the forest and over small creeks and rocks. 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 Hastings are rustic-cabin style, with teens sharing a room and shared, gender-specific communal bathrooms with private stalls. Our program instructors are housed in the same areas. Meals are served in the large cabin-style dining room with the beautiful landscape view.

What are the meals like?

Staff, with teens’ help, make all the meals. They prepare two hot meals and supplies for a packed lunch each day. With prior notice we can also accommodate most dietary requirements. Meals are enjoyed in camp dining-hall style and many times can be enjoyed outside on the porch.

How many teens are in the group?

We plan for 14-18 teens in each program, which is just the right amount for having great social dynamics as well as a meaningful science experience.

Will we have downtime to simply hang with other teens?

Yes, absolutely. We plan the week with plenty of teen social time throughout the day and every evening.

Is there Wi-Fi or cell service?

Cell coverage is unpredictable at all the sites visited during this camp. 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.

My child is interested and would need to fly into the Bay Area to attend. Do you pick up/drop off at the airport?

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