Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Sparking Curiosity and Understanding of Our Natural World

The Sierra College Natural History Museum is a dynamic and awe-inspiring center for STEM learning initiatives. Located in the heart of Sewell Hall (the Science Building on our Rocklin campus), the Museum and accompanying Planetarium has become a regional landmark for thousands of youngsters, students, teachers, and parents who come to engage, experience, and discover.

Donate Now Subscribe to Newsletter Visit Us on Facebook

For more than 50 years, the Museum has provided inspirational scientific education to its students and the community. Initially, it was funded by a special grant from Project Gold Mind and the Museum's champion and department chair, R.A. Underhill, who oversaw the construction of exhibits based on the rising theme of ecology. 

Visit the Museum

Location

5100 Sierra College Blvd., Sewell Hall (Bldg. S) 
Rocklin, CA 95677
Campus Map


Museum Hours

Monday-Friday: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
First Saturdays of the month: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Closed during the holidays and semester breaks; summer hours vary (View Academic Calendar)
Guided tours: Fridays by reservation only during spring and fall semesters


Admission

Individual admission to the Museum is free of charge.

For groups/guided tours, admission is activity-based for groups of 10 or more on Fridays during spring and fall semesters.

Tour Options Description Cost
1 Activity Museum tour, nature trail hike or planetarium show $3.00 per visitor
2 Activities Any combination of museum tour, nature trail hike or planetarium show $4.50 per visitor
3 Activities Museum tour, nature trail hike and planetarium show $6.00 per visitor

Directions and Parking    

The Museum is located in the Science Building on the west side of the Rocklin Campus in the heart of Sewell Hall. When driving to the Museum, please refer to the directions below as map apps may redirect you to the opposite side of campus near the stadium.

  • From Auburn/Grass Valley: Take Interstate 80 towards Sacramento. Exit Sierra College Blvd #109 and turn left. Turn right onto Rocklin Road. Turn right at the light on to El Don Drive. At the intersection of E Lot and Campus Drive, turn into F Lot for DAILY PARKING.

  • From Placerville: Take Interstate 50 towards Sacramento. Turn right on exit #21 Hazel Avenue. (Hazel becomes Sierra College Blvd.) Turn left onto Rocklin Road. Turn right at the light on to El Don Drive. At the intersection of E Lot and Campus Drive, turn into F Lot for DAILY PARKING.

  • From Sacramento: Take Interstate 80 towards Reno. Exit Sierra College Blvd #108. Turn right onto Rocklin Road. Turn left at the light on to El Don. At the intersection of E Lot and Campus Drive, turn into F Lot for DAILY PARKING.

Parking/Fees
Visit parking for more information. If you are traveling by bus, park in the Dietrich Theatre lot’s bus pullout. 


Accessibility 

The Museum’s wheelchair access is located on the grassy quad-side of Sewell Hall and an elevator for access to the Planetarium is located adjacent to the Skulls Exhibit Case. Wheelchair accessible restrooms are located on the ground floor of the Museum on either side of the facility. 

We want every guest to have the absolute best experience when visiting the Sierra College Natural History Museum (SCNHM). If anyone in your group needs or desires support from Museum staff for accessibility, it is our pleasure and mission to assist you and make your tour experience extraordinary. As educators ourselves, we recognize that every student learns differently and has diverse perspectives, experiences, and abilities.

We invite you to come and engage with us as we embrace inclusivity and accessibility. We are more than willing to support and accommodate your needs to the best of our ability. In addition, if you have any recommendations on ways to make this experience more inclusive, please do not hesitate to contact Rachael Greve, Museum Director, at (916) 660-7923 or rgreve@sierracollege.edu.

Exhibits

With more than 16,000 specimens at the Museum, there is something to spark the curiosity of each and every visitor. Here are just a few of our exhibits: 

  • The Museum does not find it hard to get ‘ahead’. There are more than 70 taxidermy animal head mounts and 140 skulls on exhibit focusing on vertebrate species.

  • The Animals of the World exhibit spans the entire Museum. Come marvel at fauna from Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Africa. Many of these massive animals are herbivores, but if carnivores are your favorite, we have a few of those as well. An interesting “sleuth” of omnivores can be found in the west lobby Bear exhibit.

  • The Marine Mammals gallery features aquatic favorites such as the unusual narwhal and loveable manatee, but the showstopper is our hanging 38ft California Gray Whale, the state marine mammal of California! Back on land, we have a dynamic fossil Tortoise display and a unique Hawver Cave special exhibit. Other featured Pleistocene beasts include the Mastodon and Mammoth Megafaunacases, Gomphothere excavation display, Ice Age Mammals, and a real Tarpit of Doom.

  • Natural History Rocks! Aspiring paleontologists will enjoy exploring the fossil record through our History of Life exhibit. It’s conveniently located underneath the gargantuan fossilized Ichthyosaur. Check out our trilobites, giant horseshoe crabs, and buzz saw-shaped Helicoprion shark tooth! One of California’s few dinosaurs is the Hypsilophodont; a Sierra College professor found its left hind leg! It’s in our Dinosauria gallery, where you can also see how you measure up to a long-necked Apatosaurus.

  • An impressive Entomology Compendiumincluding a California Butterfly exhibit, will have you buzzin’ for more bug fun.

  • The Mineralogy exhibit is visually stunning as it colorfully showcases many of the planet’s beautiful elements and minerals. Regional geological features, such as the Chico Formation display, warrant a tour stop. Don’t miss the Mosasaur skull fragment found right around the corner from us in Granite Bay.

  • Earthquake studies will make you tremble with excitement as you look for tremor activity on our real seismograph machine in the Weather Station exhibit.

  • Botany buffs will scream for green at our Sierra Forest exhibit. It’s a forest inside a museum case. Visitors are offered an up-close glimpse of the wildlife and botanicals found in our own backyard, the Sierra Nevada foothills. This lens into our unique ecosystem focuses on Northern California plants and animals featuring specimens from cedars to woodpeckers, creepy crawlers in subsoil habitats, owls, and coyotes. There’s even a rare wolverine, Sierra College’s mascot.

  • More native trees can be found in the updated Conifers of California display, which contains almost 30 species of cones. A fun, tactile experience can be found nearby at one of many petrified wood specimens. We left this mineralized former tree without an acrylic museum enclosure so students can touch and feel its ancient texture. 

Planetarium

Because the planetarium show is a “total darkness” environment, this program is offered for students in first grade and above. 

Our Museum offers astronomy shows in Sewell Hall’s planetarium for enrolled Sierra College students and select Museum events. Built in the late 1960s, this Moon Landing-era Planetarium seats 50 visitors.

The Planetarium Show lasts approximately one hour and consists of a PowerPoint presentation, celestial skies presentation, and Q & A session with an astronomer. 

NOTE: Planetarium availability varies per semester and is open to the Museum during K-12 field trips, select Free First Saturday events and during Dinosaur Day only. 


Nature Trails

Recommended for grades kindergarten and above. Please dress appropriately and stay on the trail. The Nature Trail is not wheelchair accessible. Off-road strollers may work on portions of the trail.

The Sierra College Natural History Museum serves as chief steward of the Nature Area. A shaded path winding through the foothill oak woodland and riparian forests has several miles of trails, including those across Secret Ravine Creek. The Secret Ravine Nature Trail is about ¾ mile long, but there is a branch that includes a gentler loop upslope to accommodate the possibility of off-road-style jogger strollers.

The Sierra College Nature Trail was designed and constructed by members of the Sierra College Science Club and their faculty advisors in the 1960s. As knowledge of the Nature Trail area has expanded, our trail guide has grown as well. The Sierra Foothills Nature Guide is available as a field guide to the biology and ecology of the Nature Trail. It covers 185 species accompanied by nearly 200 detailed original illustrations. It is available for purchase through the Sierra College Natural History Museum.


Museum Repository

The Museum is a repository for many federally permitted specimens including the Bureau of Land Management (through the U.S. Department of the Interior) and Forest Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture).

What is a Repository?

A repository is a place where things may be put for safekeeping or exhibition. The Museum is a secure and organized academic institution that does just that. We keep specimens found on federal lands on behalf of the U.S. government. We don’t “own” these fossils, but rather the Museum (or other Museums) and our scientists receive research permits for lands that are federally managed. We agree to keep important found materials and associated records protected and preserved on behalf of the government agency. In turn, we get to use the specimens for research or exhibition. 

Educator Resource Guide

Our Educator Resource Guide provides an overview of Museum offerings for K-12 students, and includes:

  • a guide through the tour reservation process
  • how to expedite the logistics of your visit to the Museum

Field Trip Options

  • Museum Tour
  • Planetarium (as scheduling permits)
  • Nature Trail Area
  • Any combination of the above field trip options

Event Reservations

To schedule a group tour or make an event reservation, contact the Museum office at: museum@sierracollege.edu


Scout Patch Program

Earn your patch with us. The Museum offers a Junior Naturalist Scouting Patch in three distinct grade levels. Patch kit includes pack/troop tour and/or hike, workbook, and patch. For more information, contact the Museum Office at museum@sierracollege.edu


Loan Trunks

Educators may borrow one of three Museum traveling trunks to use in their classrooms for up to two weeks:

  • Natural History Rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks
  • Fantastic Fossils: specimens of single cell organisms, prehistoric flora, and megafauna
  • Mighty Minerals: native elements and other common minerals

 To reserve a loan trunk, contact the Museum Office at: museum@sierracollege.edu.

Learn more about our upcoming events.

Dinosaur Day Science Fest 

RAWR!!! Dinosaur Day Science Fest is an adventure for the whole family. For more than 20 years, the Museum has presented its spring science festival featuring live animal exhibitions, lectures, tours, Planetarium shows, physics and chemistry demonstrations, face painting, paleontological digs, maker stations, and many other family-friendly activities and engaging, verifiable scientific dialogue.

View our Dinosaur Day and Science Fest 2020 Exhibitor/Vendor Application.


Free First Saturdays

Come join Sierra College professors, Museum staff, and scientists for a fun, open-house science workshop geared toward all ages. This new Museum initiative will immerse you in unique monthly themes such as dinosaurs, marine mammals, volcanoes, bats, fossils, carnivorous plants, microbes/stinky foods, magnetic slime, and astronomy. Docent-led tours of the Museum are offered, as well as games, crafts, and snacks. Available the first Saturday of each month from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm.


Lectures

Please join us on the third Friday evening of the month during Spring and Fall Semesters for an exciting science lecture by STEM content experts starting at 7:00 pm in Sewell Hall (S-111). 

  • Students and Museum Members: FREE
  • General Admission: Donations appreciated

Director

Headshot of Rachel Greve

Rachael Greve

Museum Director
rgreve@sierracollege.edu
(916) 660-7923

Committees

Sierra College Natural History Museum Committee

The Sierra College Natural History Museum Committee was formed in the 1980s to encourage best museum practices. This committee was established as an all-volunteer group of scientists and science enthusiasts, consisting of faculty, staff, students and community members. The Museum Steering Committee has now grown to almost 40 members and currently resides as a sitting subcommittee of Sierra College’s Academic Senate. 

2019-20 Museum Steering Committee

The Museum Committee’s internal leadership body, the Museum Steering Committee, assists the Museum Committee in fulfilling the mission of the Museum and represents the Museum throughout the community, thus supporting the Sierra Joint Community College District. Additionally, the Steering Committee spearheads the Museum’s accreditation efforts through the American Association of Museums.

The Museum Steering Committee consists of six working group chairs, the Museum director, the Dean of Sciences and Mathematics, and a Legacy ex-officio member, who are: 

  • George Bromm, Curatorial and Exhibits Chair/Geology Instructional Assistant and Museum Curator
  • Brandon Casey Brown, Special Events Chair/Chemistry Instructional Assistant
  • Keely Carroll, Biology Faculty/Institutional Chair
  • Kerrie Cassidy, Branding and Marketing Chair/Graphic Designer
  • Sean Gage, Affiliates and partnerships Chair/Biological Sciences Instructional Assistant
  • Rachael Greve, Museum Director
  • Matthew Holdgate, Biological Sciences Faculty
  • Randy Lehr, Dean of Math and Sciences
  • Jennie Skillen, Finance Chair/Biological Sciences Faculty
  • VACANT, Legacy Ex-Officio Member

Mission and Core Values

Our Mission: “To spark curiosity and understanding of your natural world.”

The Core Values of Sierra College Natural History Museum are:

  • To create an educational space that engages and inspires active learning.
  • To provide resources to Sierra College students from all departments to facilitate learning more about the natural world.
  • To develop and host community events that are designed to inspire a desire to learn more about the natural world.
  • To function as an organization that promotes and values equity in its membership, committees, outreach materials and programs.
  • To conduct all Museum business in an ethical manner, consistent with all laws and regulations regarding collections, the American Alliance of Museums Best Practices, and the values of the Museum.

Gratitude should never go extinct. There are many different avenues to support the Sierra College Natural History Museum, including: 

Membership 

At the heart of every museum is its members. Our Museum's constituents are diverse and passionate science enthusiasts, educators and scholars, retired faculty and staff, local business owners, alumni, and families. Membership supports the Museum’s daily operations. 

Member perks and benefits may include*:

  • free admission to community tours and lecture series
  • discounted admission fee during Dinosaur Day Science Fest
  • year-round discount in the DinoStore
  • early entry at select events and/or invitation to members-only receptions/exhibit unveilings
  • an automobile decal, Museum enewsletter subscription, and annual appreciation acknowledgement by the Museum.

*NOTE: Benefits conditional to level of membership. All Museum memberships are valid for one calendar year. Renewals are not automatic.

Levels of Membership

  • Individual (Ages 13 and up): $35.00
  • Child (Under 5): Free
  • Child (Ages 5-12)/Student: $10.00
  • Member Duo: $60.00 covers two individuals
  • Family: $70.00 covers up to five individuals; maximum of two adults
  • Seniors (Ages 65 and up): $25.00
  • Corporate Membership: $350.00
  • Patron: $500.00

Give the Gift of Membership

You may also gift a Sierra College Natural History Museum Membership. Please contact Sierra College Foundation at foundation@sierracollege.edu for all Membership purchases and/or renewals. 


Donations and Sponsorship

The Sierra College Natural History Museum is a program fund of the Sierra College Foundation. Our Museum is grateful for the continued altruism and advocacy that has been exhibited to us by our constituency, both individual and corporate. Such financial sponsorship and support underwrite daily museum operations from exhibit fabrication and ongoing collections maintenance and refurbishment to educational programs and special events that are critical to our success as an important community educational resource. 

Donate Now

For endowment, corporate, and estate giving, please contact Sierra College Foundation at foundation@sierracollege.edu.


Volunteer 

Museum volunteers must complete a Sierra College volunteer application. Once approved by the Sierra College District and Museum, volunteer applicants undergo fingerprinting and background checks. 

  • Docents. A docent is a teaching volunteer in museums, zoos, and parks. Museum docents conduct the Museum’s K-12 field trips by offering hour-long gallery tours through the Museum and Nature Trail in Sewell Hall, on Fridays. Annually, the Museum welcomes between 2,500-3,000 children on field trips. Students and other volunteers with a background and/or passion for the sciences will be trained to guide and instruct these visiting classes (elementary through high school) in fun and informative methods.

  • Special Event Volunteers. Our Museum holds many special events throughout the year. Free First Saturdays hosts an average of 300 visitors each month and Dinosaur Day Science Fest engages 4,000 participants each year. Special Event Volunteers support the special events with set up, demonstrations, welcoming, hospitality, outreach, and clean-up initiatives. Volunteers who commit to three events or more receive a free Museum t-shirt.

  • Green Thumb Gardeners. The Museum Arboretum/Cactus Garden needs help with weeding, raking, and mulching our established plants. If you have a green thumb and enjoy botany, forestry, and cactus gardening, join our volunteer corps. 


Specimens and Collections Enhancement

The Museum’s massive 16,000+ specimen anthology has been dually established through District research/ excavations and private specimen donations. If you are interested in donating a *specimen to the Museum, please contact Rachael Greve, Museum Director at (916) 660-7923 or George Bromm, Museum Curator at (916) 660-7949 for more information. 

*NOTE: There are legal, safety, and ethical limitations to the specimens we are allowed to accept. The Museum does not purchase specimens or appraise privately-held collections.

Coming Soon: Shop the Museum’s DinoStore on Dinosaur Day and every day. The new, online DinoStore will be stocked with books, gifts, toys, apparel, rocks, minerals, fossils and more.

Give the Gift of Membership
You may also gift a Sierra College Natural History Museum Membership. Please contact Sierra College Foundation at foundation@sierracollege.edu for all membership purchases and/or renewals.

We offer a variety of ways to learn more about our Natural History Museum and surrounding nature through a variety of publications and published academic research. 

eNewsletter Sign Up

Want to learn more about the Sierra College Natural Museum? Sign up for our enewsletter

Sierra College Press eJournal

The Journal of the Sierra College Natural History Museum, published by Sierra College Press, provides information about the college's extraordinary museum and the natural history of our region and the world. Visit Sierra College Press to read current and past issues of the eJournal. 

Museum Affiliated Peer-Reviewed Papers and Associated Research

Sierra Foothills Nature Guide. A comprehensive guide to the biology and ecology of all the Sierra Nevada foothills

Books by Frank DeCourten

  • Roadside Geology of Nevada
  • Shadows of Time: the Geology of Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Dinosaurs of Utah, 2nd edition
  • The Broken Land

Books by Richard Hilton

  • Dinosaurs and Other Mezozoic Reptiles of California

Books by Gary Noy

  • Gold Rush Stories: 49 Tales of Seekers, Scoundrels, Loss, and Luck
  • Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots and Rogues
  • The Illuminated Landscape: A Sierra Nevada Anthology. Co-edited with Rick Heide
  • Distant Horizon: Documents from the 19th Century American West

Charles Dailey

  • The Identity and Postcranial Osteology of Odocoileu Lucasi (Hay) 1927: A Plio-Plestocene Deer from California and Idaho by G. Victor Morejohn and D. Charles Dailey

Contact Sierra College Natural History Museum

Rocklin Campus S