Program Details

Location: Santa Cruz, CA

Dates: Summer 2020: July 26–August 8, 2020

Accommodations: Primarily camping

Credits: 5 quarter credits or 3.35 semester credits

Language: English instruction

Courses: ESCI 437A

Prerequisites: One college level course of ecology or similar,
18 years of age

Program Costs

Big Sur Summer 2020
$    150    Application Fee
$ 2,150    Program Fee
$    750    Estimated In-Country Group Fee
$    400    Estimated Airfare
$    200    Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending

$3,650     Total Estimated Cost
Summer 2020: Program fees due by May 15, 2020


The Program

With its pristine marine ecosystem, clear streams, wild canyons, and relative absence of human impacts, the Big Creek Reserve remains an area of rare, unspoiled grandeur in an otherwise rapidly developing California coastline. In Big Creek’s tapestry of environments, researchers are beginning to search for answers to key ecological questions. How do animal and plant communities in pristine wildlands develop and change over time? How do protected Big Sur populations compare to those found outside reserve boundaries? How can long term field research help us better manage Big Sur’s irreplaceable natural resources?

Through participation in hands-on research projects we will learn important sampling protocol and be part of exciting new efforts to address these pressing environmental questions. Field study projects will be selected from research priorities that may include firsthand assessments of sea otter and seal population distributions, ecological mapping and surveys of key stream and intertidal habitats, and on-site studies of Big Creek’s biologically diverse animal and plant communities. These important projects provide unique opportunities to gain an enriched understanding of Big Sur ecology, provide hands on experience in conducting ecological research and better manage Big Sur’s natural resources into the future.

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Nicole L. Crane

Lead instructor

MS in Marine Science, SF State University—Moss Landing, 1991;
MA in Science Education, UC Santa Cruz, 2003

Nicole is a senior conservation scientist with the Oceanic Society and a faculty member in the biology department at Cabrillo College. Her research interests lie in coral reef ecology, marine conservation and science education. Nicole also works with local communities in the Pacific and Caribbean to develop collaborative reef management plans, including marine protected areas. She teaches university courses in plant biology, marine biology, ecology and environmental science. She has taught our Big Sur Program since 1997.