We Are Building a New Center!

Our Hope for the Future

The dream of having a bigger and permanent center is getting closer. Thanks to funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Watsonville will have an accessible space where community members feel welcomed and inspired to connect and engage in sustainability and environmental conservation. The new center will continue to serve our diverse community, bringing them closer together to embrace our local natural, cultural, and historical resources and contribute to their preservation. Through participation in climate action, pollution prevention, and emergency preparedness we hope to continue to create a more informed, connected, and resilient Watsonville. 


Follow us @watsonvillenaturecenter  

Our Story 

In 2004 the City of Watsonville, through the stewardship of the Department of Public Works & Utilities, established the City’s Nature Center as a place for community environmental learning and wetland exploration; and to act as the gateway to the award-winning City trails. Over the last 17 years, the little trailer in the back of Ramsay Park that we’ve all came to know as Watsonville’s Nature Center had been serving as a space where community members of all ages can learn about local habitats, receive free conservation devices, and participate on guided nature walks. The Center also served as a one-stop shop for residents to learn about composting, waste reduction, recycling, water conservation, pollution prevention, and conservation rebates among many other topics.  

Activities During ConstructionBike Group

Our Nature Center team will continue to host a series of free, bilingual nature walks, workshops, presentations, and events as we believe that our local community plays a vital role in the conservation, restoration, and overall protection of the environment. These activities will continue fostering behaviors that reconnect us to the environment and that prepare us for the new challenges the world is facing with climate change.

Guided Nature & Birding Walks

Birding Walk near bridge

 Join us in exploring our award-winning trails through the rich wetland habitat. Call 768-3161 for upcoming walks.

  • No reservations required
  • Families with children welcome
  • Binoculars provided
  • Bring water, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, and dress for the weather

Guided Group Trail Tours by Appointment

Slough trail tour kids

Register your teen or adult group for a FREE guided tour of the wetlands trails. Your group will experience first-hand the beautiful birds and plants living in our local wetlands, and walk away knowing why and how to protect this unique habitat.

  • Minimum group size: 10 people
  • Visits tailored to fit needs and interests of group
  • Bilingual staff available
  • To register please call 831-768-3161 two-three weeks in advance

Litter Cleanups

Clean up leadersAs part of our Beautification Program, community groups or youth programs can schedule litter clean-ups on the trails and around neighborhoods by emailing at naturecenter@watsonville.gov. Materials, instructions and a leader (when needed) will be provided. Must schedule at least 2-3 weeks in advance. School volunteer credits are also provided.

Partnering Opportunities

Our ultimate goal is to better serve the Watsonville community by offering and highlighting resources and opportunities available to them while connecting with them and local organizations to create a stronger community. Join us to:  

  • Promote and exchange educational activities while combining outreach efforts
  • Share programs, services, and audiences through partnering events and workshops
  • Highlight your organization with other organizations’ audiences
  • Be part of our outreach event calendar

To learn more, please contact us at naturecenter@watsonville.gov or call us (831) 515-8306. 

A Beautiful Contribution

Slough Trail birding 2As part of her legacy, Nancy Lockwood, a long term City employee with a huge heart who helped establish the Nature Center, left behind funds to support the creation of a new Watsonville Nature Center facility. The funds are held in The Nancy Lockwood Fund (EIN 94-2808039), at the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County under the oversight of Watsonville Wetlands Watch. Funds originated from a bequest from Nancy Lockwood to the Community Foundation for this purpose and for others to donate to make her dream possible. The new facility will also provide shared office and program space for the City’s long-time partner, Watsonville Wetlands Watch, to conduct ongoing programs for wetland preservation, environmental education, restoration and stewardship efforts for the City.