Find (or start) a Nature Journal Club Near You!

Nature Journaling is a worldwide movement that integrates art, science, and nature exploration. Nature Journaling makes you a better observer, naturalist, and artist and opens a world of beauty and discovery. You can learn how to keep your own nature journal and make using it your habit.

A Nature Journal Club is a diverse community of artists and naturalists, of all levels, who meet together to connect to nature through art. Through field trips, hands on technique workshops, and community events participants explore local parks and open spaces, developing artistic and naturalist skills and deepening thier love of nature. Clubs are open to and welcome everyone. The program are intergenerational and family friendly. Seniors and elders are encouraged to participate. No experience necessary. Read the article in Bay Nature.

Join a Club Near You

You can find Nature Journaling groups all around the world. Click on any marker on this interactive map to find a group near you. Contact me with your group’s URL and a nearby city to add your club to the map.

Join us on Facebook

Join The Nature Journal Club Facebook Group to share sketches, drawings, arrange carpools, and connect with the group community. Announcements and events are also be listed in the Facebook group.

No clubs in your area? Start your own!

Do you wish there was a Nature Journal Club in your area? Why not start one? Journal clubs are a fun, family friendly way to develop a closer connection with nature, build community and a support system around sketching outdoors, introduce people to natural areas, inspire sharing of ideas and resources, and promote stewardship.

All you have to do is create a Facebook group or webpage to organize meetings, share the URL with me and I will post it here. If you build it, they will come. You do not need to be an expert at identifying plants and animals or a professional artist to start a group. You can draw upon the resources of group members, learning birds from the birders, flowers from the botanists, and sketching techniques from the artists.

Here are some lessons learned from the Bay Area Nature Journal Club.

  • Try to keep events on a regular schedule. If people can count on a field trip every second Saturday of the month, they will put it on their calendar and show up. It makes a huge difference if people can reconnect on a regular basis and build upon developing skills.
  • Create a webpage to post and coordinate group events and communication. Once you do, share the URL with me and I will add you to the interactive map. Facebook and meetup groups are excellent ways to announce group events and to connect people in the group to each other. They also are a great way for people to share photos, sketches, and discuss ideas outside of group meetings. Group members can also organize additional field trips or carpools.
  • Decide how often will you meet. Once a month is good. Twice a month may be better if your schedule allows. If you try it weekly, let me know how it goes. Keep it manageable for you and your schedule. If you try to do too much it will not be fun for you. 
  • Mix it up. A little nature study, a little sketching, a little hiking, a little technique demonstration, a little poetry, a big potluck, a little more sketching…
  • Intergenerational programs are best. Parents are looking for things to do with their families. Encourage parents to bring children who express genuine interest in nature drawing and to monitor their behavior. When kids see adults journaling too, it gives the activity credibility. When adults see kids journaling, they think, “if she can do it, so can I” and give themselves permission to try. There is something really lovely about seeing elders and youth exploring nature together.
  • Cost. People take a free program for granted. A small fee will help participants value what you offer. Alternatively, you can offer a way for people to donate to support the club. Do not be shy about passing the basket but do not put undue pressure on people to contribute.
  • Ask for help. You do not need to do this alone. The more you involve group members in organizing group activities and share ownership of the group, the more people will be invested and regularly take part. What can you delegate? Look for nature centers, zoos, museums, and other venues with which to partner and organize the group. Many sites will be delighted to support this kind of programming.
  • Potlucks. People connect through sharing food. If participants bring their own sack lunches, they will eat separately. If you tell them to bring a portable potluck item to share and their own plate and spoon and throw out a ground cloth at lunch time, a feast will magically appear. You do not need to tell people what to bring, it will work out (perhaps with too much hummus but that is OK). People will gather around the food, meet each other, laugh, and connect.
  • Technique workshops. Mini “how to” workshops in the field a great addition to the flow of a day. They can give people a way to start. If the group gets too big, you can also try more extensive journaling classes that are separate from the field trips in a venue that would allow everyone to see. This has the added benefit of reserving more time in the field for people to observe and sketch instead of learning how to do it while they are outside. You can use any of my videos to get ideas for your own workshops and classes. Everything I teach is open source art instruction. Make it your own and have fun.
  • Sharing. This is a big one. Give participants time to see the work of other journal keepers. Before lunch and before wrapping up for the day, lay the journals out on a flat rock or table and explore how other people have documented the same experience. Encourage participants to point out and try techniques that interest them. You will not stunt your own creativity by copying other people’s journal ideas, using their ideas gives  you a jumping off place for new discoveries. Do not look at this sharing as an art contest, it is a place to share observations and journaling ideas. Encourage people to take away ideas and techniques, not just to look at pretty pictures.

The big thing is- you can do this. All it takes is an organizer with gumption to get things off the ground. The experience and the community that grows from the club will be your reward. I am here to help you any way I can. Please contact me if I can be of help.

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58 thoughts on “Find (or start) a Nature Journal Club Near You!

  1. Melissa Fischer says:

    Are there any clubs in the Hudson Valley area of New York? I would love to be part of one, but couldn’t do the organizing at this time. If anyone else wanted to start one, I’d be happy to help out.

    • Saba says:

      Hello, same person as above! I had thought a few summers ago of starting a group on the Shawangunk Ridge, but was unable to due to some commitments. Do you perhaps live there, particularly near Cragsmoor. The virus may prevent any possibility this summer, we’ll have to wait and see what is safe.

  2. Chrissy S. Roston says:

    Any clubs in the Tacoma/Seattle Area.
    I am a brand new painter and love nature.
    Just learning art journaling.
    Thank you!

  3. Judy Jackson says:

    Anything/anybody around the Thomasville, Georgia area?

    Would love to get a whole nature study thing going on around nature journaling.

  4. Pat says:

    Are there any groups in Wilmington, NC (on the coast) a couple of hours from Raleigh? Thanks! Have followed you for years on your website & read your books. I do some sketching mostly on my own.

  5. Rosanne Haaland says:

    I am just a little too far away from the Shenandoah group to participate with them, though I do participate through their FB group.
    But I have taken a grad level course on Nature Journaling Across the Curriculum at Mary Baldwin College with Clare W Leslie as the instructor, and have taught a few places here and there since then. I would love to get a club going in my area (northeast corner of Tennessee) but am not sure the best way to go about it…
    Would welcome your advice!

      • Rosanne H Haaland says:

        Thank you, Jack! I will also read your Notes on starting a club. I’m thinking I’m going to talk with the park ranger at the local state park to see if their rec room might be available for meetings, and also if they might publicize it…..
        Fingers crossed!

  6. Raphael Mischel says:

    Hello, has the June 30 field trip been cancelled? I’m not seeing it in the schedule now, have been looking forward all month. Please help!

    Thank you!

  7. Kim McCarthy says:

    Hi Jack,
    Will you be doing any field trips or presentations in the Santa Barbara or Malibu area at anytime? I attended one of your presentations in Marin County, and it was great!
    Thank you.
    Kim

  8. Phoebe Ozuna says:

    I am in the Pasadena/LA area and took your workshop at the Mono Lake Bird Chautauqua. Wonderful! Is there anything going on down here?

  9. Leslie Ferguson says:

    Jack
    I would be happy to help set up at field trip for viewing salmon in west marin. We discussed this at your workshop Saturday. The only concern, as I am sure you know, is that it can be difficult when you have a preset date, to coincide with the timing of the salmon run and visibility in the creek ( it can’t be too turbid immediately after or during a rain event). My contact info is attached ( I use Beth’s email).

    thanks for a wonderful class this Saturday at Arrowhead marsh. Your perspective is so refreshing- I really enjoyed the class and feel enriched.
    Leslie

  10. Sasha says:

    How about a field trip to San Pedro Valley in Pacifica? There are some really neat display stuffed animals in the visitors center and its a good place to see bobcats hunting in the picnic area meadow.

  11. Amal says:

    We had our first class today. It was so great! Even though I could only stay 45min (small children with me) I learned so much! I have been nature journaling with my daughter for about a year- as well as drawing about a year and can make pictures come together but lack any technique so often something will look “off”. Possibly the eye location or the shapes. I learned some techniques today and when I got home I practiced sketching some ducks and they came out so much more balanced then ever before. I am so grateful for this offering.Thank you John and thank you for allowing me to bring my children. I am really looking forward to learning more. I also really appreciated what you said about not focusing on creating a pretty picture but to play with it and enjoy the colors and read more about that in the intro to your bird book. I have definitely had that pretty picture destination at the forefront of my mind often and I am grateful for this new understanding and approach. I will definitely focus on creating that space and approach for my children. Simple philosophy that makes a world of difference.
    Thank you so much.

  12. Amal says:

    I just re-read the entire page and I misunderstood the structure. So now i understand the second tuesday is the class (indoor) and the last sunday is the outing in nature. I would still love to try this if it is ok. I would be sensitive to making sure we didn’t disturb anyone and if it was too long for my 3 year old (the indoor class) then could we just quietly leave early?

  13. Amal says:

    I would love to join the nature club. I posted on another page that I homeschool my children and both love every aspect of the natural world from insects to mammals as well as plants. My 3 1/2 year old can already identify raptors and tell the difference between them. My 7 year old daughter loves nature journaling and I would love to get better at my own so I can offer her more guidance. Would it be ok if I came with my children? I wouldn’t expect them to focus on the class per se but they love being out in nature and it would be a wonderful opportunity for me as I am always with them and don’t have the opportunity to attend a class often.

    • John Muir Laws says:

      Dear Amal,
      We would love to have you and your daughter as a part of our group. Please bring your children. This is a family friendly program. The classes are indoors and you learn the techniques to help you draw. Then we put it to use on the field trips. I teach in a fun and engaging way that I think your 7 year old will enjoy. Feel free to bring her to the workshops and see if she likes it. Please introduce yourself to me so I can welcome you. Let me know if there is anything I can do to support you and your family in nature study.
      PS it is so cool that your 3.5 year old can ID raptors. Welcome!

      • Amal says:

        Thank you so much for your replies! Now that I understand the layout I just have a few questions just to make sure we wouldn’t disturb anyone. How long is the indoor part of the class. My son is good at sitting on my lap and waiting for a bit but I just want to be careful to make sure we wouldn’t disturb. Also, is it ok if I just watch the demonstration while indoors (so as to keep my kids mellow) and then try them out when we are outdoors?
        This would be an experiment the first time and if it works with them I would be delighted and if not then I could wait a bit and try again when they are a bit older. I am so excited that you offer so much to the community and I expect that at some time we will be avid followers of your classes and educational offerings. Thank you!
        (My son has a cold currently so this coming Tuesday will depend on if he has recovered)

        • Amal says:

          One more thing- my daughter has some language processing issues (it is the opposite side of the coin of dyslexia- just applies more to spoken language). She is now doing excellent with her language because we homeschool and she is in a language rich environment always, but she is less responsive to lecture / demos than other kids as she can feel nervous with a whole bunch of new language from a new person and shyness is a part of it as well, but art, and specifically nature art is her primary mode of expression and is so special to us. So in the class she might not seem to be responsive but she is unbelievably intelligent and all the info always gets in and she demonstrates it later on her own or with me alone. 🙂

  14. Lessa G says:

    We are so happy about the Nature Journal Club because it gets us outdoors, exploring the Bay Area, seeing more deeply, having fun, building a bit of community, and deepening our understanding and appreciation of where we live. These are all things we’ve have had on our “to do” list for years, but now we’re actually doing — and it feels great! Thank you, Jack, for all the expertise, good energy, and good will you bring to leading this project. Our family and everyone in this community will be benefiting for years to come.

    Warmly,
    Eva, Paul, and Pax

  15. Alyssa Byrd says:

    Thanks Jack Laws for sharing your gift within the community! After two classes with you already (at CCSF), it is with eager anticipation that I plan the next!

  16. Alison Kent says:

    Fantastic, Jack — hope you’re able to get up to the North Bay or Delta sometime! Fantastic viewing of sandhill cranes on Sunday evening against a pink-purple sky, Mt. Diablo to the west…

    • JohnMuirLaws says:

      That is a great idea for a field trip. Do you have some specific favorite locations? What time of year do you think is best at these sites? Anyone else have great suggestions for field trip locations? Let me know the where and when!

      • Alison Kent says:

        The Isenberg Sandhill Crane Sanctuary near Lodi — evening fly-in is magical. Any day when the cranes are here, they arrive in November and stay through February. A great spot for a small group, there’s an elevated section with a bench at the preserve. It would be good to get there around 3-4 pm and an hour or two is plenty. If the cranes aren’t right at the preserve, they’re in corn stubble all around there.

        Several Delta locations, but the Cosumnes River Preserve would be fabulous — all kinds of possibilities for field trips there! The last undammed river in California — there’s a visitor center for info and bathroom breaks. Lots of waterfowl but lots else too.

  17. JohnMuirLaws says:

    I see the club as something that will grow and change with the energy we bring to it. What would you like to see this group become? What should we create together?

    • JohnMuirLaws says:

      We are thinking along the same lines. I am in negotiations with the Oakland Museum right now- that pending location in Alameda is there! We should know very soon. I can’t wait for the Museum to reopen the natural history hall this year.

      • JohnMuirLaws says:

        There is no admission. The Oakland Museum is letting us use the space for free. I love them! I want to encourage everyone to get a OM membership. That way you can explore the museum at will after class.

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