Nearly 40 years have elapsed since Ken Norris led the first group of Field Quarter students into the field in 1973. That makes it possible for members of the 2012 group to be the grandchildren of the early-70s pioneers (a sobering thought for us old-timers). But in spite of being members of very different generations, all the folks who have participated in Natural History Field Quarter have much they share in common. It’s not just the initial trip to the Granites, the ritual of presentations, borrowing books from the Parnassus, and the Hokey Pokey—it’s the unique ethos Ken Norris brought to Field Quarter, which Steve Gliessman and Breck Tyler have lovingly nurtured and renewed every spring since Ken retired from teaching.

After talking about it for years, we are finally organizing an event at which we can come together to celebrate what holds us together, renew old friendships, meet the folks who have come before us and after us, and honor the nearly four-decade existence of Field Quarter.

What has spurred us to act is Steve Gliessman’s retirement. After 30 years of teaching—and protecting Field Quarter from many threats—Steve is stepping aside to devote his time to his many other interests, and Field Quarter 2012 will be his last. That makes this Spring a perfect time to celebrate Steve’s multi-faceted career and recognize his service to Field Quarter. It’s also a time of reckoning—when we decide, collectively, whether Field Quarter will continue beyond Steve’s active tenure at UCSC.

It comes down to money. With the university in deep and probably long-term fiscal crisis, it falls upon us Field Quarter alumni and other "friends of Field Quarter" to provide the financial support needed to keep NHFQ going. Luckily, we begin our fundraising efforts on a firm footing: an anonymous donor has dedicated up to $100,000 in matching donations, and the university has set up two funds to which you can contribute—an endowment for experiential, field-based learning that will generate long-term funding for Natural History Field Quarter, and a current-use fund that will support Field Quarter during the next two or three years.

Take a moment to reflect on what Field Quarter meant to you and how it changed your life and then imagine future UCSC students (perhaps even your kids and grandkids) being denied that experience. If that prospect saddens and angers you, recognize that you can do something about it. We will be asking for donations on April 28, but you can make your gift in support of Field Quarter at any time with your mouse and credit card. For the links and more information, go to the sustaining Field Quarter page.

In Memoriam: Ray Collett, 1933-2012. Ray was a Natural History Field Quarter instructor for 1977 and 1978 and influenced many a student with his passion for botany, taxonomy, and horticulture. A memorial gathering for Ray will be held at the UCSC Arboretum on Sunday, April 29, at 2 pm.
Ray's obituary

For the uninitiated: What is Field Quarter?

Ken Norris: 1924–1998. Ken's final word on everything he loved—nature, people, teaching—is captured in his last book, Mountain Time: Reflections on the Wild World and Our Place in It. After many delays, it was published last year, complete with a five-chapter section about Field Quarter. Learn more.

Keep Field Quarter alive

When you click the links below, you’ll be taken to the UC Santa Cruz webpage where you can use your credit card to make a secure, tax-deductible gift to the Natural History Field Quarter current use fund (to support Field Quarter for the next several years) or to the Natural History Field Quarter endowment fund (to generate long-term funding for Field Quarter). Currently, our most urgent need is for donations to the current use fund.

Contribute to the Current Use Fund.

Contribute to the Endowment Fund.

Register for the Reunion!

The online registration page for the Natural History Field Quarter Reunion is open for business. There are a few things you should know before you click on to that page.

Order your t-shirt at the reunion

Field Quarter alum Jenny Wardrip Keller has designed a beautiful t-shirt for the reunion. You can place your order at the reunion. More information.