Fulfill your dream of becoming a naturalist!

Our Natural History Field Studies courses, offered quarterly on a rotating basis, provide a unique opportunity to learn natural science from experts while exploring the ecosystems of the Central Atlantic region. Intended for the lay person and taught at the college freshman level, these evening courses are open to anyone at least 18 years old. Individual courses are useful to professional and amateurs alike in acquiring knowledge of specific subject matter and enhancing enjoyment of the out-of-doors.

The Natural History Field Studies curriculum has been designed to provide participants with a comprehensive and stimulating overview of the regions natural history and conservation issues with an emphasis on learning in the field. A Certificate of Accomplishment is awarded for completion of a required curriculum of 39 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) taken in five subject areas.

Classes are offered at the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, MD, and the metro-accessible Capital Gallery (L’Enfant Plaza stop) in downtown DC. The Natural History Field Studies program is cosponsored by the Audubon Naturalist Society and the Graduate School USA.

Bios Instructors.pdf

September 30 – December 16, 2019

Chesapeake Bay Ecosystems - Sorry, cancelled due to low enrollment.
NATH8216E, 3 CEUs
Class night and time: Mondays, 6 – 8 pm
Class meetings: September 30 – December 16, 2019
Field trip dates: October 12 and 19, 2019
Location: Capital Gallery, Washington DC (L’Enfant Metro)
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Terry McTigue
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Discover the dynamic nature of the estuarine environment through study of the interaction between basic physical, chemical and biological processes in the Chesapeake Bay. Explore biological and geochemical cycles and discuss the interaction between nutrients and overall productivity affecting the health of the Bay. Examine the effects of pollution and resources management and the processes that influence temperature and salinity distributions. (Students split the cost of the day-long boat ride, usually about $50.) Image Credit: Jennifer Schmidt
If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Required text:  Life in the Chesapeake Bay, by Lippson, A.J. and R.L. Lippson.  Third Edition, 2006.  Johns Hopkins University Press.   ISBN:  0801883385.

Fall Woody Plant Identification
NATH7245E, 1.5 CEUs
Class night and time: Mondays, 7 – 9 pm
Class meetings: October 7 – November 4, 2019
Field trip dates: October 12 and October 26, 2019
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, Chevy Chase, MD
Tuition: $269
Instructor: Elizabeth Rives
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Autumn’s glory is created by the colorful changing leaves of trees and shrubs, so fall is the ideal time to study woody plant field identification. In this mini-course, participants study the principal techniques for identifying woody plants found in the Central Atlantic’s forest communities. Field trips feature the use of recognition characteristics and botanical keys to identify many local woody plants. Students should have a 10x hand lens. There will be no class on October 14. Image Credit: Mariana Sevilla.  If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Required textCommon Native Trees of Virginia, 2016 edition (available at www.shopdgif.com in the Education category)

Recommended text: Common Native Shrubs and Woody Vines of Virginia (available at the same website)

Recommended text:  The Illustrated Book of Trees by William C. Grimm, rev. ed (by John Kartesz), Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002. ISBN-13: 978-0811728119; ISBN-10: 0811728110

Chemistry for Naturalists
NATH7129E, 3 CEUs
Class night and time: Tuesdays, 6 – 9 pm
Class meetings: October 1 – December 10, 2019
Field trip date: November 23, 2019
Location: Capital Gallery, Washington DC (L’Enfant Metro)
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Joe Marx
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Study the basic chemical principles that operate in natural environments. Learn to recognize the evidence of chemical processes in a landscape. By adding basic chemistry to the study and interpretation of local ecology, learn to form rudimentary but accurate models of the principal chemical processes in the environment. The course is completely descriptive, does not involve mathematics or homework problems, and is suitable for both field studies and horticulture. There will be no class on November 26. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled. 

No Required Text

Wildlife Ecology - Sorry, cancelled due to low enrollment.
NATH8265E, 3 CEUs
Class night and time: Tuesdays, 6-8 pm
Class meetings: October 1 – December 3, 2019
Field trip dates:  October 19 (Huntley Meadows Park), October 26 (Patuxent Wildlife Research Center), and November 9 (Mason Neck NWR)
Location: Capital Gallery, DC (L’Enfant Metro)
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Sally Valdes
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Gain an understanding of wildlife techniques and theory, including the basics of life history, identification, population and community ecology, habitat management, and animal behavior.  Learn how institutional missions and federal laws influence wildlife and habitat conservation, and how humans affect and are affected by wildlife in rural, suburban, and urban environments of the Mid-Atlantic region. Pressing concerns about invasive species, the effects of climate change on wildlife, and the loss and degradation of habitats will also be discussed. A field trip fee of $10 will be collected in class. Previous courses such as Biology for Naturalists (NATH1110E) and Intro. to Ecology (NATH1160E), or equivalent, are recommended.  If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Required textNational Audubon Society Field Guide to the Mid-Atlantic StatesChanticleer Press, Inc. 1999ISBN-13: 978-0679446828

Recommended textWildlife of the Mid-Atlantic by John H. Rappole, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0812222012

Eastern Forest Ecosystems
NATH8215E, 3 CEUs
Class night and time: Wednesdays, 6 – 9 pm
Class meetings: October 2 – December 4, 2019
Field trip dates:  October 5, October 19, November 16, 2019
Location: Capital Gallery, Washington DC (L’Enfant Metro)
Tuition: $365
Instructors: Joe Marx and Stephanie Mason
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The native vegetation in most of the Mid-Atlantic region is temperate deciduous forest. In the lecture portion of this course, we will learn how history, geography, evolution, climate, bedrock and soil determine the nature of our woodlands. We will then look at the various types of organism that populate our forest ecosystems and study how webs of matter and energy bind them together. The final lectures will discuss patterns of short-term and long-term change within the Eastern forest. Three full-day field trips–to Appalachian, Piedmont and Coastal Plain locales–will provide hands-on experience with some of the plant and animal species that characterize the major forest communities of our area. There will be no class on Nov. 27. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Required text: A Field Guide to Eastern Forests, North America by John C. Kricher, ISBN: 978-0-395-92895-0, Houghton-Mifflin.

Weather and Climate
NATH7140E, 3 CEUs
Class night and time: Thursdays, 6 – 8:30 pm
Class meetings: October 3 – December 5, 2019
Field trip dates: TBA
Location: Capital Gallery, Washington DC (L’Enfant Metro)
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Sean Potter
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This course explores fundamental concepts related to weather and climate. Students will learn the physical processes that make up Earth’s atmosphere and drive local, regional and global circulation and weather patterns. Topics include weather map analysis and forecasting, weather satellite imagery, clouds and cloud development, and severe storms and hurricanes. Other relevant topics, such as El Niño and global climate change, will also be discussed. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Required text:   Essentials of Meteorology: An Invitation to the Atmosphere, 8th Edition, by C. Donald Ahrens, Robert Henson.  2018. Print ISBN: 97813056284
Note: Copies of 6th and 7th editions are acceptable.