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history and nature

Cabrillo Extension Classes
History and Nature


Backyard Astronomer


night sky

Learn how to identify the stars and constellations seen in our local skies in this fun hands-on workshop. Using the Cabrillo planetarium and observatory you will see the wonders of the universe and learn about astronomy history, methods, equipment, and recent discoveries. Get a sense of distances to planets, stars and galaxies. Learn about Black holes, dark matter and the expanding universe.

Participants should dress warmly for outdoor observation at the observatory. In case of rain or fog, class will assemble in the planetarium.

This class is appropriate for students aged 10 to adult.

2 Fri., Apr. 22 & 29
6:30 - 9:30 pm
Room: 707

Register by Feb. 29: $58
Register after Feb. 29: $65


register online


Karl von Ahnen has been an amateur astronomer and telescope user since age 12. He served as lab instructor-assistant in the Cabrillo Astronomy Department for many years, and is the Director of the Fujitsu Planetarium at De Anza College, one of the largest school planetariums in the country.


Carrizo Plains

California’s newest high desert reserve is nestled between the Temblor and Caliente mountain ranges of eastern San Luis Obispo County.

This quiet tableland of plains, rugged canyon and sprawling Soda Lake hosts populations of recently reintroduced pronghorn antelope and Tule elk (absent from the area since the beginning of the century), as well as smaller predatory mammals, kit fox, jackrabbit and the endangered kangaroo-rat and antelope squirrel. In the winter, the desert basin hosts thousands of birds, waterfowl, sandhill cranes, mountain plover and raven.

A location map and are available on the Class Resources web page. Participants will meet in the California Valley just east of the Los Padres National Forest in San Luis Obispo County and form carpools for the daily activities.

Sat., Dec. 5

9 am - 6 pm
Off-site in the California Valley
A detailed map is available on the Class Resources web page.

Register by Sept. 14: $64
Register after Sept. 14: $


register online


Bruce Elliott is a retired senior Biologist Supervisor for the California Dept. of Fish and Game. Bruce has conducted dozens of natural history themed presentations at Cabrillo College over the last 30 years.


Backyard Beekeeping and Honeybee Biology


Whether you are interested in learning sustainable backyard beekeeping practices, or just want a better understanding of how these delicate, intricate creatures benefit us and our planet, you will leave this class a-buzz with new energy! Over the course of the class we will cover hive structure, colony dynamics and delve into basic honeybee biology. We will discuss the history of beekeeping, from honey production to pollination contracts, and discuss current trends (and rifts) in colony management practices. Weather permitting we will take a field trip to Emily's Apiary in Santa Cruz for a real-life "hive dive". By the end of the course, students who are interested in obtaining their own hive will have a good working understanding of equipment, tools, management practices and bee biology, and how we can work together to support these very vital pollinators.

This class is appropriate for adults with little to no experience in keeping bees.


4 Sat., Apr. 9 - 30
10:00 am - 11:30 am
Room: 707

Register by Feb. 29: $68
Register after Feb. 29: $72


register online


Emily Bondor is a bay area Beekeeper and Educator. Her expertise is in promoting responsible honeybee genetics and breeding queens from locally adapted genetic stock. She works in Napa Valley managing bee-hives and is currently pursuing Master Beekeeping Classes through the Honeybee Lab at UC Davis.



Sea Otter Adventures, A Human Obstacle Course: Lecture and Field Trip


Join sea otter photographer/lecturer Kim Steinhardt for a special day-long adventure.  We begin with a morning talk and multimedia presentation, followed by an afternoon field trip to Moss Landing to seek out otters in the wild. We can expect rich photo opportunities and a short, one-mile hike. We will discuss the relationship between sea otters and humans, and how it has been strained nearly to the breaking point during much of the last three centuries. With only 3,000 California sea otters remaining, this threatened species now faces new peril. In this class you will discover more about:


  • Why the sea otter attracts such fateful attention

  • How litigation threatens to halt the long struggle to come back from near extinction

  • What happens when law and politics clash with science and good ocean stewardship


Sat. Apr. 16   
10am - 5pm
Register by Feb. 29: $68
Register after Feb. 29: $72

register online


Kim Steinhardt, JD, is a former Administrative Law Judge who photographs and studies sea otters, presents popular illustrated talks, and regularly writes a column called The Sea Otter File, dealing with all things otter.  He also teaches law classes on legislative advocacy in the public interest, and leads natural and cultural history walks along the coast of Monterey Bay with a focus on ocean conservation issues and sea otters.



RailWalks with Sandy Lydon

A continuation of a series of walks along the Santa Cruz Branch railroad lines conducted with the approval of the lines’ owner, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC), and the Iowa Pacific Railroad, the railroad that has leased the line. These courses are designed to give you a background on the history of Santa Cruz County railroads, and, the Santa Cruz Rail Road, locally-financed and completed in 1876.

Walking Distance for each class: Approximately 5 miles each day. Moderate difficulty with several steep trails.

This program is suitable for participants aged 18 and above. Participants will be responsible to provide their own transportation.    


Railwalks Combo: The Rio Del Mar-La Selva Transect, The Oak Forests and Sloughs Transect AND The Watsonville – Pajaro Transect

Sun., August 23, August 30 and September 13
9:30 am - 6 pm
Fee: $180    


register online

For more infromation about these classes, please see Sandy Lydon's Central Coast Secrets web page



The Rio Del Mar-La Selva Transect: Aptos Village to Manresa State Beach

We will begin in Aptos Village and head east (downcoast), and enter the suburban, 1920s neighborhood of Rio Del Mar. We will discuss Rio Del Mar’s history as we stroll through a completely invented, humanized landscape as the line angles, slowly toward the immediate coast. This walk has some of the most stunning coastal views in the county. We’ll end at Manresa State Beach.

Walking distance approximately 5 miles each day. Moderate difficulty with several steep trails.

Sun., August 23
9:30 am - 6 pm

Fee: $75


register online

For more infromation about these classes, please see Sandy Lydon's Central Coast Secrets web page


The Oak Forests and Sloughs Transect: Manresa State Beach to Highway 1 overcrossing

This section of the Santa Cruz Branch Line traverses some of the most isolated parts of the county. We will be hiking through oak forests and across sloughs that cannot be accessed any other way except on the railroad line. This is also the place where the Watsonville-Santa Cruz rivalry call still be seen. Where F.A. Hihn attempted to get his revenge on the voters of Watsonville who did not support the railroad. The views on this segment are stunning.

Walking distance approximately 5 miles each day. Moderate difficulty with several steep trails.

Sun., August 30
9:30 am - 6 pm

Fee: $75


register online

For more infromation about these classes, please see Sandy Lydon's Central Coast Secrets web page


Another “Actual Hollister”

You think the New Yorker Magazine knows Hollister? Come Experience “Another Actual Hollister” through the Eyes and Mind of a Haybaler Homeboy.

Have you read the New Yorker’s version of Hollister? Now see the town through the eyes of Homeboy Sandy Lydon during a day-long bus adventure. If you haven’t seen the article, please Click Here for a direct link.

Maybe Hollister is in the Central Valley when seen from New York, but Sandy Lydon knows better. And so do you. Often dismissed as that place “where the motorcycles took over” and there are “earthquakes every day” and it’s “hotter than hell in the summer” we will separate the myths from reality and show you a complexity and diversity you never imagined. Most Hollisterites don’t even know the incredible history of this quirky town, much less folks out in New York.

Come join us on a chartered bus as we flay open the town and dissect it for you.

We will be taking a number of off-bus strolls of exploration.
Participants should bring a lunch and liquids as we’ll be having a picnic.
Transportation: Deluxe motor coach with restroom and video. We will watch some clips of Hollister’s iconic moments.

Course is not appropriate for children under 21.

Registrants will receive maps and supplemental materials.

NEW DATE: Sun., Nov. 15

9:30 am - 6 pm (There will be three pick-up locations. See below)
Three pick-up locations:
9:30 am - Cabrillo College Aptos Campus
10:00 am - Cabrillo College Watsonville Campus
10:30 am - San Juan Bautista

Register by Sept. 14: $95
Register after Sept. 14: $110


register online


Sandy Lydon grew up Hollister and graduated from Hollister High School and is proud to be a Haybaler. He never strayed far. Even after joining the Cabrillo faculty in 1968 he continued to research and write about the history of San Benito County and has led many field trips to its far corners. He also subscribes to the New Yorker and when the July 20th issue arrived with the article about “the actual” Hollister, he knew he had to prepare a response.





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