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

April 15–June 24, 2019

The Living Soil
NATH7185E, 3 CEUs

Class day and time:  Mondays, 6-8 pm
Class duration: April 15-June 24
Field trip dates: May 4, May 18 and June 8 (all 9:00 – 1:30)
Location: Capital Gallery, DC (L’Enfant Metro)
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Katherine Nelson
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Knowledge of soils is basic to understanding plant communities and ecosystems.  Examine the nature of soils and their influence on environment. Learn the structure, properties and the classification of soils and the significance of these factors to plant growth and other uses. Discover life in the soil and study the soil groups and natural land resource areas of the Central Atlantic region.  Previous courses in wetlands and biology are helpful. No class on June 24.  If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Biology for Naturalists
NATH7110E, 3 CEUs

Class day and time: Tuesdays, 7-9 pm
Class duration: April 16-June 18
Field trip dates: April 27, May 4 and 18, and June 1 (students required to attend three of four)
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, Chevy Chase, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Paula Wang
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Explore the basic biological principles and processes that govern the natural world. Our evolutionary and ecological lens focuses on mechanisms, patterns, relationships, adaptations, and environmental influences. Topics include the cell and the genetic basis of life; evolution; biological diversity and the tree of life; and a comparative survey of the plant and animal kingdoms. Labs, outdoor activities and field trips provide hands-on opportunities to apply course content. This course is recommended background for other courses in the Natural History Field Studies Certificate Program. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Butterflies of Late Spring 
NATH8277E, 1.5 CEUs
Class day and time: Tuesdays, 7-9 pm
Class duration: May 21-June 18
Field trip dates: June 1, June 8 and June 15 (students required to attend two of three; Sunday rain dates)
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, Chevy Chase, MD
Tuition: $269
Instructor: Rick Borchelt
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By late May, most of the early spring butterflies are history and an entirely new set of butterfly actors takes stage in the mid-Atlantic. June offers the greatest diversity of butterflies of the season, and provides a unique insight into butterfly-plant interactions and coevolution. Participants will learn to identify the expected butterflies in the mid-Atlantic, with special emphasis on swallowtails, hairstreaks, and nymphalids, including Maryland’s state butterfly, the Baltimore Checkerspot. Students will observe and document caterpillars and their host plants of select species, participate in citizen-science documentation of butterfly diversity and abundance, and discuss/debate the role of recreational and scientific collecting in our understanding of butterfly biology. Three field trips will include a wide variety of habitats to maximize the numbers of species class participants will see. Image credit: Alison Hunter.  If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Introduction to Ornithology
NATH7118E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time: Wednesdays, 7-9 pm
Class duration: April 17-June 19
Field trip dates: April 27 (Hughes Hollow), May 25 (Delaware shore birds), June 9 (Western Maryland)
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, Chevy Chase, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Gemma Radko
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Learn about birds and their special characteristics. Study their external and internal anatomy, feather structure, plumage, special adaptations, flight, migration, courtship, mating, nesting, eggs, incubation, care of the young, habitats, ecology, behavior, conservation, evolution, classification, distribution, worldwide birds and bird-related activities. Field trips emphasize field identification, bird song and other behavior. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Reptiles & Amphibians
NATH8276E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time: Thursdays, 6-8:15 pm
Class duration: April 18-June 13
Field trip dates: May 5 (Jug Bay), June 8 (Huntley Meadows) and one TBD (students required to attend two of three)
Location: Capital Gallery, Washington DC (L’Enfant Metro)
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Rachel Gauza
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The course is an introduction to the study of reptiles and amphibians in the Mid-Atlantic region. Reptile and amphibian biology, ecology, behavior and natural history will be discussed. An emphasis will be placed on local species diversity, identification, and conservation.  Image credit: Brian Gratwicke.  If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Rising CO2 and Global Warming
NATH7400E, 1.5 CEUs
Class day and time: Fridays, 10 am–12:30 pm
Class duration: April 19–May 17
Field trip date: May 10 (all-day trip to Smithsonian Environmental Research Center)
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, Chevy Chase, MD
Tuition: $269
Instructor: Bert Drake
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Learn how greenhouse gases are changing temperature around the globe and how this impacts local natural systems. Explore the effects rising temperatures are having on polar ice caps and sea levels, and learn how rising atmospheric CO2 and rising temperatures threaten the world's food supply and its nutritional value. Discover how much carbon dioxide humans are producing and learn possible ways to reduce it, from renewable energy to electric cars, biomass energy with carbon capture and storage. Image credit: NOAA If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.