Sonoma Mountain Connection

Sonoma Mountain Connection (SMC) is a two-year cohort program for first-time, first-year students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) majors, funded by the Koret Foundation. SMC provides students a summer science immersion program and enriched academic year experience. Overall, SMC integrates three of the highest-impact educational practices documented to improve academic success: cohorting, research experiences, and outdoor learning.

Stream running through a wooded area
Copeland Creek on the SSU campus. Photo Credit: W. St. John

SMC gets its name from SSU’s exceptional outdoor learning environment. Sonoma Mountain overlooks SSU and is the site of the 450-acre Fairfield Osborn Preserve—one of three SSU nature preserves totaling 4,200 acres managed by SSU’s Center for Environmental Inquiry.

A pond covered in duckweed and surrounded by trees
Kelly Pond at Fairfield Osborn Preserve. Photo Credit: W. St. John

Sonoma Mountain Connection Summer Academy

The SMC program begins with a one-week summer science immersion program - the Sonoma Mountain Academy - during which students will work directly with faculty mentors to investigate topics related to their field of study. In 2022, the Academy will be held at the Redwood Alliance Conference Grounds, where we will stay in cabins in the redwood forest in Occidental. During the Fall 2022 semester, we will to take students on field trips to local preserves, hear first-hand from scientists about the research they are doing in our local area, and analyze real-world data related to environmental, biotechnology and sustainability challenges. 

Redwood Alliance

Sonoma Mountain Connection Class Cohorting 

During the Fall and Spring semesters, students in the same STEM major will be part of a SMC cohort of up to 24 students. Each cohort will take a special SMC seminar course in the first year to explore a diverse array of learning opportunities, learn about a variety of careers in their chosen STEM field and engage in activities that will prepare them for success in college and beyond.

L to R: Two students peering into a dipnet; a woman holding a newt; two students measuring gravel in a dry creek bed
Sonoma State Students collecting field data. Photo Credits: W. St. John

Sonoma Mountain Connection hosted its first cohort of students in the Biology major in Fall, 2020. In 2021, the program expanded to include a cohort of Computer Science majors. 

Student Testimonials

“I really like how it feels like a safe environment where I can connect with the students and the professor.”

~ Sonoma Mountain Connection Biology student, 2020/21


“My favorite part about [the Sonoma Mountain Connection] was how it began before the semester started (Summer Academy), which allowed all the new students to make connections and not feel so new on the first day. Since the group was small it helped create a close-knit community for us to find friends and connect with our instructors. I do believe that if I wasn't a part of the program, I wouldn't feel as comfortable emailing professors as I do now.” 

~ Sonoma Mountain Connection Biology student, 2020/21


For more information

For more information, or to express your interest in being a part of this program, use the contact and program information below.

Sonoma Mountain Connection Programs
Program For more Information
Biology Program
Computer Science Program