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

July 9 – September 22, 2018

Wetland Ecosystems
NATH8211E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time: Mondays, 6–8 pm
Class duration: July 9-September 17
Field trip dates: July 14 (Jug Bay), 21 (Battle Creek Swamp), and 28 (Suitland Bog), subject to weather conditions and equipment availability
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Terry McTigue
The National Capital area harbors a rich variety of wetlands, ranging from bogs to tidal marshes. Become familiar with the landscape and ecological processes that form wetlands and how to identify the plants and animals commonly found in wetlands. Gain an understanding of wetland conservation, including wetland restoration, and policy. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled. REGISTER HERE.

Required text: In Search of Swampland: A Wetland Sourcebook and Field Guide (Paperback) by Ralph W. Tiner, 2009.  Rutgers University Press; 2 Rev Exp edition (September 22, 2005).  

Non-Native Invasive Plants of the Mid-Atlantic
NATH2319E, 1.5 CEUs
Class night and time: Mondays, 7-9:15 pm
Class meetings: July 9-30
Field trip dates: July 14 and 28
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $269
Instructor: Kerry Wixted
Learn about organisms that are non-native to the mid-Atlantic region and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause environmental or economic harm, or harm to human health. Focus is on identification and control of invasive terrestrial and aquatic plant species. Students will receive an overview of the issue, acquire understanding of the multiple impacts of non-native invasives, and gain detailed information about major species of concern in our region and how to manage (remove/control) them. Two field trips to area park properties and natural habitat areas are planned so that students become adept at species identification and can compare various management options. Required: a 10x hand lens or higher quality glass loupe. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled. REGISTER HERE.

Required text: Invasive Plants: A Guide to Identification, Impacts, and Control of Common North American Species, 2nd edition. Sylvan Ramsey Kaufman and Wallace Kaufman.  Stackpole Books.  ISBN-13:9780811702843

Insect Life
NATH7130E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time: Tuesdays, 6:30–8:30 pm
Class duration: July 10-September 11
Field trip dates: July 15, July 28 and August 11 
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Cathy Stragar
Learn to identify insects and discover their roles in the balance of nature. Study their life histories, the ecologies of important insect forms, the necessity of insects in biotic communities and principal insect families of the Central Atlantic region. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled. REGISTER HERE.

Required text: National Wildlife Federation’s Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America by Art Evans, Sterling Publishing, New York. 2007.
Strongly recommended for field work: Field Guide to the Insects by Eric R. Eaton and Kenn Kaufman, 2006.

Summer Bird Life
NATH7116E, 1.5 CEUs
Class day and time: Wednesdays, 7–9 pm
Class duration: July 11-August 1
Field trip dates: July 14 and July 29
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $269
Instructor: Gemma Radko
Bird activity is especially busy in the summer, with courting, nesting, and fledging happening in the space of a few short months. Learn about local summer birds and their breeding strategies, nests and nestlings, habitat requirements, and much more. We will discuss the recent state-wide atlas, and what we can learn from atlasing activities. Two field trips to local parks will help participants learn to identify local nesters, their nests, and young birds. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled. REGISTER HERE.

No required text. Any field guide to birds of eastern North America.

Introduction to Fungi
NATH7203E, 1.5 CEUs
Class day and time: Wednesdays, 7–9 pm
Class duration: August 15-September 5
Field trip dates: August 18 and September 1
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $269
Instructor: Tovi Lehmann
Fungi are incredibly diverse and fascinating organisms that have been shaping the terrestrial biota in many ways we are just beginning to discover and understand. Fungi evolved rather 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 forest around us. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled. REGISTER HERE.

Required text: Slayers, Saviors, Servants, and Sex: An Exposé of Kingdom Fungi by David Moore OR Fungi: A Very Short Introduction / Nicholas Money (Oxford U. Press) [choose one or the other of these two texts]
Required text: Field Guide to North American Mushrooms / Linkoff GH -National Audubon Society
Recommended books:
The Fifth Kingdom / Bryce Kendrick (3rd edition or higher)
The Fungi / Carlile MJ, Gooday GW, Watkinson SC (2nd edition or higher)
Mushrooms of Northeastern North America /Bessette AE, Bessette AR, and Fischer DW
Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians / Roody WC
Field Guide to Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic / Russell B (This one is excellent for beginners)

Ferns and Lycophytes
NATH7148E, 1.5 CEUs
Class day and time: Thursdays, 6–8 pm
Class duration: July 12-August 2
Field trip dates: July 14 and July 28
Location: Capital Gallery, DC (L’Enfant Metro)
Tuition: $269
Instructor: Carl Taylor
Ferns are ferntastic! This class will reveal the unique structure and fascinating life histories of ferns and lycophytes. Examine their taxonomy, including how names are chosen, and describe, classify, and identify them. Investigate the intriguing evolutionary history of ferns and lycophytes. Learn how easy it is to grow ferns and how to garden with them. Two field trips will focus on the identification and ecology of our native ferns and lycophytes. Students must have a good quality 10X−14X hand lens or they will miss the marvelous detail of these wonderful plants. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled. REGISTER HERE.

Required text: Northeast Ferns: A Field Guide to the Ferns and Fern Relatives of the Northeastern United States by Steve W. Chadde