Reading Nature, Observing Science: Examining Material Practices in the Lick Observatory Archives and Kenneth S. Norris Papers

UC Natural Reserve System

Norris played a key role in founding the UC Natural Reserve System (NRS), which is a system of protected natural sites throughout California that are administered by the University of California and used for the purpose of teaching and research. In 1963, he presented a system wide plan for the NRS to former UC President Clark Kerr, and in 1966 he travelled around the state surveying potential sites for the reserves. Norris later chaired the original NRS Advisory Committee from 1965 to 1968. 

Norris's conception of the NRS was also closely aligned with his pedagogy, as he believed that protected natural reserves were essential for outdoor education. Many of the scheduled trips in the Natural History Field Quarters were to various sites in the reserve system itself. Not only did the Field Quarters make use of the NRS, but students from the Field Quarter classes directly helped with survey work for the NRS. Along with Norris and Stephen Gliessman, members from the 1985 Field Quarter surveyed Northeast California for potential reserve sites, and members from the 1986 Field Quarter assessed the potential inclusion of the Northern California Coast Range Reserve within the NRS. Such intersections between the Field Quarter and the NRS show how Norris's teaching and work were part of a larger vision wherein environmental conservation and pedagogy mutually informed each other. 


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