Anyone can enroll in courses ranging from birding to painting to astronomy at the scenic SNFC
Situated in the Gold Lakes Basin and Sierra Valley regions of the Sierra Nevada — a little more than 200 miles northeast of the main campus — is San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus (SNFC). With scenic views and lots of wildlife, the campus makes for a unique classroom experience for anyone who enjoys learning about (and being in the middle of) nature. Registration for the SNFC’s 2023 workshops and classes is now open.
Every year from June to mid-August, the campus offers a variety of opportunities to learn about a range of topics, from birding and alpine painting to courses in insects, flora, fungi and more. Participants can immerse themselves in the beautiful locale as they learn. This year the SNFC is offering 7 accredited classes (through SF State’s College of Professional & Global Education) as well as 25 non-credit workshops.
Registration is open to SF State students as well as the general public. The campus is also home base for researchers studying the local terrain.
“That’s one of the nice things about the field campus in general is that we have a really broad variety of classes and workshops,” said SNFC Director J.R. Blair. “We have the researchers and we have people of all kinds of different backgrounds who come here, and they interact informally usually at dinner or perhaps around a campfire if we have that. It’s really neat to witness that there’s a lot of interaction.”
Though the SNFC was closed for the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to COVID-19, last year’s season may have been the biggest it’s ever had, Blair says, estimating that there were about 300 registrants compared to previous highs closer to 200.
“I have to say that our instructors are fabulous … ,” he explained, noting that one professor emeritus has been coming for 40 years. “And there are many instructors who’ve been doing this for 20, 25, 30 years. Everybody is really good at what they do, and the response from students is almost 100% favorable across the board. They really like it. Plus they like the food!”
SNFC has also hired a new SNFC Lead, Darrow Feldstein, who begins in early February.