The mission of the University of California Natural Reserve System is to contribute to the understanding and wise stewardship of the Earth and its natural systems by supporting university-level teaching, research and outreach. Of these activities, teaching generally reaches the most people annually at the James. It is an outdoor classroom set in the San Jacinto Mountains. Our founders, Harry and Grace James established an innovative and pioneering Trailfinders program of outdoor education, long before the James Reserve was established. Youth from urban Pasadena as well as the Hopi Indian Reservation spent their summers at the place that was to become the James Reserve. As Trailfinders, they grew up to become renaissance men who had acquired a diversity of skills, from rock climbing and outdoor survival skills to gaining appreciation of and fluency in classical music.
We strive to carry on the tradition of the Trailfinders. Every year the James hosts a variety of classes from the University of California, other universities and colleges across the state of California and beyond. In addition to day trips from nearby campuses, the James’ 70+ bed capacity and full kitchen facilities allow faculty from more distant schools to plan multiple day stays for their classes. The onsite classroom with plant and animal collections and laboratory facilities add to the learning experience students will experience at the James. These multiple day visits expose students to experiences that go beyond their class subject matter, including first-hand contact with scientists conducting research at the James.
Our teaching mission extends beyond colleges and universities. The staff at the Reserves takes great pleasure in hosting pre-school to high school classes where young people often get their first real peek into nature. Often at the same time they step into the natural surroundings, students get first-hand experiences with scientists that conduct research at the James and Oasis de los Osos Reserves. Below is a photo gallery of students who are visiting the Reserves for their first time. If you are interested in bringing your class to the James or Oasis de los Osos, please see our scheduling a visit page for details.