“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to take classes in the NHFS program. Most environmental education is aimed at children and youth.  Because nature programming wasn’t a part of my suburban childhood (and I might not have cared about it or retained it in any case) I am thrilled to be able to learn about natural history as an adult – ‘when the student is ready, the teacher appears.’ Thanks to the Audubon Naturalist Society, natural history is becoming a passion.”  Field Studies student R. Gray

This unique continuing education program for adults provides a comprehensive and stimulating view of our region’s natural history and conservation issues. Taught at the college freshman level, these courses are open to anyone 18 years of age or older, professionals and amateurs alike. A Certificate of Accomplishment in Natural History is awarded to those choosing to complete a required curriculum of 39 Continuing Education Units (CEUs), but anyone can enroll in any class for the sheer pleasure of learning.

Registration Info for Natural History Field Studies Classes
Registration is now being handled completely online by the Audubon Naturalist Society (not the Graduate School USA) through our adult program registration system.

  • Questions? Contact pam.oves@anshome.org.
  • Refund Policy for NHFS classes: ANS will provide you with a refund (minus a $25 administration fee) if you cancel your enrollment no later than the day following the first class lecture. After this date, no refunds will be provided. In the event of a course cancellation due to insufficient enrollment or other events beyond our control, we will notify you as soon as possible and provide you with a full refund.

Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, classes are currently being offered via online Zoom sessions with optional in-person field trips. These locally-based outings will be limited to groups of 8 participants, with mask-wearing and social distancing required. Registrants can elect to enroll in online classes only or choose to participate in field trips as well, space allowing.


Bios Instructors

September 21 – November 25, 2020

The Living Soil
NATH1175E, 3 CEUs
Class night and time: Wednesdays, 7-8:30 pm
Class meetings: September 23-November 25
Lectures: via Zoom
Field trip dates: October 3, 24 & November 14 (9 am-1 pm)
Online lectures only: members $240, nonmembers $265
Online lectures + 3 field trips: members $330; nonmembers $360 WAITLIST OPEN
Instructor: Katherine Nelson
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, as well as the significance of these factors to plant growth and other uses. Discover the biodiversity of life in the soil, experience soil groups and soil properties. Previous courses in wetlands and biology are helpful. Soak in soil knowledge via Zoom lectures and join us for socially distanced field trips to natural land resource areas of the DMV. Maximum of 8 students per field trip. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Required Textbook
Know Soil, Know Life by David Lindbo, Deb Kozlowski and Clay Robinson, Soil Science Society of America.

Other required materials
Montgomery County, MD Soil Survey (provided)

Highly Recommended/Reference Textbooks

  • Urban Soil Primer, United State Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Soil Survey Center, Lincoln, Nebraska http://soils.usda.gov/use
  • Soil Biology Primer, Soil and Water Conservation Society, 7515 Northeast Ankeny Road, Ankeny, Iowa 50021-9764. www.swcs.org

Introduction to Fungi
NATH7204E, 3 CEUs
Class night and time: Mondays, 7-8:30 pm
Class meetings: September 21-November 23
Lectures: via Zoom
Field Trip dates:
- Group A: September 26, October 17 & 31 (9 am-1 pm)
- Group B: October 3, 24 & November 7 (9 am-1 pm)
Online lectures only: members $240; nonmembers $265 WAITLIST OPEN
Online lectures + 3 field trips: members $330; nonmembers $360 WAITLIST OPEN
Instructor: Serenella Linares
Fungi are incredibly diverse and fascinating organisms that have shaped the terrestrial biota in ways we are just beginning to understand. Fungi evolved unique strategies of exploitation and cooperation with other organisms. We will cover basic biology of fungi (e.g., anatomy & physiology, life cycles, ecology, and evolution) while focusing on our local fungi to gain a new perspective and appreciation of their place in the ecosystems around us and our daily lives. Explore this fascinating Kingdom from the comfort of your home (via Zoom) and join us for socially distanced field trips to apply identification strategies and learn all the fungal hiding places. Maximum of 8 students per field trip. Students will choose field trip group at a later date. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Required reading: The Fungi, 3rd Edition Edited by Sarah C. Watkinson, Lynne Boddy and Nicholas P. Money https://www.sciencedirect.com/book/9780123820341/the-fungi

Suggested mushroom field guides (not required):

  • North American Mushrooms: A field guide to edible and inedible fungi by Dr. Orson K. Miller and Hope H. Miller (available at ANS shop)
  • Mushrooms and other fungi of North America by Roger Phillips (Amazon)
  • Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora (available at ANS shop)
  • Ascomycete Fungi of North America: A Mushroom Reference Guide  by Michael Beug (Author), Alan E. Bessette (Author), Arleen R. Bessette (Author) (available in Amazon both electronically and hard copy) 
  • National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (National Audubon Society Field Guides) by Gary H. Lincoff (available at ANS shop)