Soar into Fall with NHFS Classes

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.

NHFS Instructor Bios

October 1 – December 15, 2018

Bird Life 
NATH7115E, 3 CEUs
Class night and time: Mondays, 7-9 pm
Class meetings: October 1-December 10, 2018
Field trip dates: October 13, November 3, and December 1 (full day to Blackwater NWR)
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Mark England
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Study the life histories and ecology of resident and migrant birds of the Central Atlantic region.  Emphasis is on birding techniques, use of field guides, introduction to birdsong, and identification of our area’s birds.  Bird forms and adaptations, habitats, plumage, migration, and conservation are also covered.  The course features a field trip to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland as well as two other field trips. Image credit: Karen Wilhelm  If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Required text: any good field guide to the birds of eastern North America
Recommended text: Birding Essentials by Jon Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer, National Geographic Press.  ISBN-10: 1426201354 ISBN-13: 978-1426201356

Wildlife Ecology
NATH8265E, 3 CEUs
Class night and time: Tuesdays, 6-8 p.m.
Class meetings: October 2-December 4, 2018
Field trip dates:  October 20 (Patuxent), November 3, November 17
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 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 and introduced species, the effects of climate change on wildlife, and the influences of a changing economic environment will also be discussed.  Previous courses such as Biology for Naturalists (NATH1110E) and Introduction to Ecology (NATH1160E), or equivalent, are recommended. Image credit: Frank Schulenburg. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Required text: National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States, Chanticleer Press, Inc. 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0679446828
Recommended text: Wildlife of the Mid-Atlantic by John H. Rappole, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0812222012


The Living Soil 

NATH1175E, 2 credits 
Class night and time: Wednesdays, 7-9 pm
Class meetings: October 3-December 5, 2018
Field trip dates: October 13, October 27, and November 17
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Joel Cohen
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Knowledge of soils is basic to understanding plant communities and ecosystems. Examine the nature of soils and the ways they affect their local environment. Learn the structure, properties, nutrient supply, and classification of soils and the significance of these factors to plant growth and other uses. Discover the biodiversity of life in the soil, experience hands-on labs on soil groups and soil properties. Field trips to natural land resource areas of the Central Atlantic region. Previous courses in wetlands and biology are helpful. ACE College Credit Recommendation Service Reviewed. Image credit: Carlosblh. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Required text:  Soil Science Simplified, Fourth Edition; by Helmut Kohnke and D.P. Franzmeier , Waveland Press, Inc.; Long Grove, Illinois ISBN: 978-0-88133-813-3

Introduction to Ecology
NATH1160E, 2 credits 

Class night and time: Wednesdays7-9 pm
Class meetings: October 3-December 12, 2018
Field trip dates: October 13 and 27November 17, and December 1 (3 of the 4 needed for completion)
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Paula Wang
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A fundamental understanding of ecology and the physical and biological principles on which ecosystems depend is essential for any naturalist. In this course students learn to interpret the patterns and processes of nature by studying energy flow, food webs, biogeochemical cycles, population dynamics, communities, behavioral and evolutionary ecology, biodiversity, biomes and plant/animal interactions. No class on November 21. Previous courses such as Biology for Naturalists (NATH 1110E) or another biology course are recommended.  ACE College Credit Recommendation Service Reviewed. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

No required text.

Birds of Prey
NATH7155E, 3 CEUs
Class night and time: Thursdays, 7-9 pm
Class meetings: October 4-December 13, 2018
Field trip dates: October 13 (Cape May, NJ), November 3 (Waggoner’s Gap, PA), and December 1 (Hawk Drive, VA)
Location: Oakton High School, Vienna, VA
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Liam McGranaghan
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Experience the wonder of the fall raptor migration and learn to identify raptors in flight. Study habitat requirements of birds of prey and their relationships to other species.  This course will concentrate on species typically found in eastern North America but will also cover additional selected species.  Three field trips are planned, with one likely to be to Cape May. Image credit: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Required text: The Raptor Almanac: A Comprehensive Guide to Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, and Vultures by Scott Weidensaul
Recommended text: a raptor identification guide, such as Crossley ID Guide: Raptors by Richard Crossley or Peterson Field Guides to Hawks of North America by William Clark and Brian Wheeler