New Sonoma Nature Journal Club launched

New members receive journal book, pencils, pouch|

Hoping to inspire children and adults alike, a local woman launched earlier this month a Nature Journal Club, part of a worldwide movement to integrate art, nature and science.

“It’s a different way of communicating,” said Brenda McNeill. “It’s a connection with nature.”

Founded by John Muir Laws (no relation to the famed Scottish-American naturalist) journal clubs encourage people to observe nature and record experiences in a notebook. McNeill, a real estate agent and artist in Sonoma Valley, started a Nature Journal Club and is offering free materials to the first 100 members who sign up.

They will be given a composition-sized Sonoma Nature Journal Club notebook, special wood pencils, and a cotton pencil pouch. McNeill said she wants the materials they use to be “authentic” so she is staying away from anything plastic.

Members will be kept abreast of socially-distanced outdoor events at such places as the Sonoma Community Garden where they will be encouraged to draw plants and record thoughts, for example, in their journals.

It’s the intersection of art, science, and nature, something McNeill is especially interested in bringing to young students. She said she was inspired to create the club by Dr. Joe McBride, Chair of the Forest Science Division of the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at University California Berkeley.

Nature journaling can be practiced alone or in small groups and can take place anywhere, outside in a yard, garden, or a park for example. Indoors, sitting by a window and watching leaves rustle on trees, or a bird perching on a branch, are other ways to participate. McNeill has resources of online websites for nature watching and a list of nature books to help guide one into understanding what they are viewing.

Members will be given nature fact sheets and a schedule of virtual meetings with special guest speakers. At a later date she will make available YouTube videos on such subjects as the basics of nature journaling, creating ink from nature and learning how to journal with it, and other helpful ways to enjoy the environment.

Learn more at Contact McNeill directly at

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