NRS California Ecology and Conservation Program: Why You Should Apply

By Michael Spaeth, Reserve Intern

            For anyone interested in or unaware of the Natural Reserve System (NRS) California Ecology and Conservation Program, I wanted to provide some insight into why this course is a must for undergrads looking to study life and environmental sciences. This program is a UC-wide field course for undergraduate students interested in learning about ecosystems found throughout California, traveling and staying at various UC natural reserves, and conducting hands-on independent research. 

            As an alumnus of this course, I highly recommend anyone interested to apply! It has easily been the highlight of my academic career thus far. You may be thinking, “Sure, this program seems interesting, but why should I apply for this program?” Well I’ll tell you why! This program is essentially study abroad, but cheaper. This program is taught in the cutting-edge classroom known as mother nature. This program lets you explore a range of dynamic ecosystems (e.g., oak woodland, redwood forests, California deserts, grasslands, Sierra Nevada mixed conifer forests, coastal dunes), ask questions about the natural processes that take place within them, and then actually try to answer these questions by conducting your very own research. Don’t worry though, it won’t just be you frantically trying to figure all of this out on your own. You’ll be able to share the experience with a couple dozen other UC students who you’ll be living and traveling with over the duration of this program. Not to mention the amazing professors who will provide you with the tools and knowledge of how to even go about doing research. Did I mention that this program fulfills multiple upper division course requirements? That’s right! Not only will you learn how to become a scientist and have an unforgettable experience doing it, but you’ll also receive credit for several of your upper division courses. If you feel compelled to participate in this program, act fast because application deadlines for Spring 2018 are October 23rd. Otherwise, check out the UC NRS website for application deadlines for Summer or Fall 2018.

For more information regarding this program, check out the UC NRS website:

To apply to participate this spring:

If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding this program, don’t hesitate to email me at

October 18, 2017