CNDDB News Blog

  • August 28, 2020

It’s back-to-school season, and this year parents are faced with new challenges around distance learning and COVID-19. Thankfully, Nature’s classroom is always open! We spoke with Le’a Gleason and Meg Seifert from Headwaters Science Institute to get some inspiration on how to take advantage of this moment and incorporate more environmental education into family life.

Meg created Headwaters with the aim to bring more hands-on-learning to students in science classes through field research, which was one of her favorite parts of her academic journey to earn her PhD. Headwaters programs have been built around students designing their own original research projects and conducting data collection in the field. When Coronavirus became a threat to in-person learning, Headwaters aimed to help students stay mentally engaged in learning by creating online programs that still encourage interaction with the environment. The goal of their link opens in new windowonline learning programs is to still inspire students to complete activities on their own outside, but through lessons that are delivered digitally.

Screenshot of a video on Nature Journaling by Headwaters Science Institute

You can visit link opens in new windowHeadwaters Science Institute’s website for more info on their Fall 2020 online offerings, including programs designed to engage high school-age students in extracurricular scientific research.

Now more than ever, it’s important to keep kids engaged in the outdoors. Seifert hopes that by fostering curiosity through science, programs like these are educating the problem solvers of tomorrow.

Some of Meg’s favorite online-accessible offerings include link opens in new windowScience Friday and link opens in new windowSierra Nevada Journeys.

Here are some other top picks for kids of all ages:


  • Sharing Nature with Children, Joseph Cornell
  • The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada, link opens in new windowJohn Muir Laws (who also has nature journaling resources on his website)
  • Atlas of the Biodiversity of California, CDFW (new edition coming soon!)

Do you have a favorite environmental education resource you’d like to share with our readers? Email us and we’ll include it in a follow-up blog!

Categories: Education and Awareness
  • July 23, 2020

A closeup of the tip of prairie false oat.
Photo credit: Margie Mulligan
(link opens in new windowCC BY-NC 4.0) link opens in new windowvia iNaturalist

Earlier this year, a grass species thought to be extinct was rediscovered. Prairie false oat (Sphenopholis interrupta ssp. californica) was previously only known from two locations in Baja California, Mexico from the 1880s. It was rediscovered near Carlsbad, California by Jessie Vinje (with the Conservation Biology Institute) and Margie Mulligan (with the San Diego Natural History Museum) while doing population monitoring for San Diego thorn-mint (Acanthomintha ilicifolia). See link opens in new windowthis news article from the Conservation Biology Institute for additional information about this exciting discovery!

Categories: Education and Awareness
  • July 13, 2020

CNDDB is proud to maintain a comprehensive, robustly-catalogued archive of field survey forms, articles, reports, maps and other documents containing biogeographical data on species of special concern in California. But when we start digging into historical species locations, we often turn to other archives for additional information. Below is a short list of a few of our favorite resources. Some may be already familiar, but hopefully a few await your exploration. Happy hunting!

California State Library
The California State Library is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building adjacent to the State Capitol in Sacramento. In-person services are currently suspended during COVID-19, but meanwhile you can link opens in new windowbrowse the State Library website. CSL has voluminous archives of scientific literature, making it a great resource to track down historical articles and books, and their online Ask-A-Librarian service is top notch. We’ve also been told they have a collection of over 5,000 historic maps. Though only state employees can check items out, anyone is welcome to browse on-site (or online).

Puppy-in-training at the California State Library
Added bonus of visiting CSL in person—you might get to meet library service-dog-in-training Florence V!

MVZ Archives Field Notes collection
Sometimes you need more information about a historical specimen. Maybe you just want a glimpse into the epic history of scientific collecting. The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology keeps an link opens in new windowonline archive of digitized field notes from some of its most legendary curators and field biologists.

USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection
USGS’ Topo View link opens in new windowonline map viewer allows you to navigate and view all versions of topo maps available for any given location in the US, dating back to the 1800s. You can even download georeferenced images of the maps. It’s an essential tool for georeferencing historical specimens.

Biodiversity Heritage Library
BHL is link opens in new windowan open-access digital archive of historical biodiversity literature, with contributors from around the globe. If you are tracing back the taxonomic history of a certain species, this is your go-to resource for finding articles across the centuries.

If the above resources don’t scratch your historical itch, here are some more CNDDB staff favorites:

Categories: Education and Awareness