Application & Preparation

Observing lizards close-up in the Mojave Desert


Applications for the spring 2021 Natural History Field Quarter (NHFQ) class are now available and must be submitted online by Wednesday, October 28, 2020 by midnight. 

NHFQ is 15-unit spring class open to ALL students. It is the only class you can take during your spring quarter. Third and fourth year students with a clear interest in pursuing environmental-related careers are preferred. Upon acceptance, anyone may apply for a scholarship to waive part or all of the course fee. No previous camping or outdoor experience is required. See our suggestions for how to prepare to apply and be part of NHFQ. 

To learn more, come to our informational online zoom meeting on Monday, October 19 from 7-8:30pm . The passcode for the zoom meeting is 790875.  Also, peruse more of this site, visit the Norris Center in Natural Sciences II, room 239, or contact Chris Lay at 831-459-4763 or

The NHFQ 2021 application must be submitted online, including an uploaded google doc with answers to the final 10 short-answer questions. These final 10 questions will take time and effort to complete. Below are the 10 questions you need to answer. Remember to thoroughly answer each question, but limit your responses to no more than 2 paragraphs per question. You can also access the questions on the online application itself. 

Final Short Answer Questions:

  1. Why do you want to take this course?
  2. Describe the courses and/or experiences (such as jobs, internships, travel opportunities, leadership or outdoor experiences, etc.) you have had that best prepare you for NHFQ.
  3. Describe one personal challenge you have overcome to get to where you are today.
  4. A simple definition of natural history is the scientific study of the natural world with an emphasis on direct observation and interpretation. Why do you think natural history is important?
  5. What are your primary interests in the area of natural history?
  6. What are your professional goals and how do you see NHFQ as helping you achieve them?
  7. Tell us about any talents, certifications, hobbies, musical abilities, etc. that you will you bring to NHFQ.
  8. How do you envision yourself adjusting to camping outside in remote conditions without access to running water and other modern amenities, like electricity, cell service, etc?
  9. During NHFQ, a rotating group of 6-7 students are responsible for cooking during each long trip. Suppose it is your group’s turn to cook. You notice one of your group-mates frequently arrives later than the rest of your group, often disappears while others are cooking, and isn't doing their share of the work. How would you handle this situation?
  10. Do you have cooking experience and have you cooked for large groups (This information won't be used to determine acceptance into the course. We use this information to divide the group into 4 cook groups)