This unique continuing education program for adults provides a comprehensive and stimulating view
of our region’s natural history and conservation issues.

Open to adults 18 years of age or older, professionals and amateurs alike.

Winter 2022 Courses

Winter 2021 NHFS Courses
Geology (January 11 - March 29)

Geology 02
Geology 01
Geology 03
previous arrow
next arrow

GEOLOGY waitlist open

NATH7175E, 3 CEUs

We may not have the Rockies in our back yard, but we have the roots of mountains that were as high as the Alps. Although earthquakes are rare now, our region twice broke in two and the ocean flowed in. Central Atlantic geology tells a story as fascinating as that of any place on the planet. Course lectures introduce the landscapes, subsurface structures and geologic history of our region. Three field trips emphasize the recognition of local landforms and the geological processes that created them

Class Schedule: January 11–March 29 (ten meetings with a two-week break in February TBD)
Tuesdays, 6–8:30 pm
Class Location: Online via Zoom
Field Trips: Saturdays, March 5, 12 and 19 (all day); rain/snow date on Saturday, March 26
Course Fees: ANS Members $350; nonmembers $400

Required Book:
• None. Your instructor will provide readings in the form of pdf files

Suggested Reading:
• Roadside Geology of Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C., by John Means, Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2010, ISBN 978-0-87842-570-9 2)

• How the Mountains Grew: A New Geological History of North America, by John Dvorak, Pegasus Books, 2021, ISBN 978-1-64313-574-8

About Your Instructor:

Geologist Joe Marx

Joe Marx

Joe Marx taught physical and historical geology at Northern Virginia Community College for fifteen years. Although now retired, he continues leading geological forays for ANS and teaching geology for several Master Naturalist programs. He holds an M.S. in Geochemistry from the California Institute of Technology and a B.S. in Chemistry from Georgetown University. An avid traveler, he has visited all fifty states as well as more than forty countries, always finding something of geologic interest.


Mammals of the Mid-Atlantic (January 10 - March 14)

Mammals 01
Mammals 03
Mammals 02
previous arrow
next arrow


NATH8290E, 1.5 CEUs

Mammals are a diverse and fascinating group of organisms. This course will examine the characteristics, physiology, adaptations, ecology, and behavior of mammals. Much of the focus will be on species of the mid-Atlantic region. Studies will include identification through analysis of skulls, study skins, tracks, and other signs commonly found in natural areas.

Class Schedule: January 10-March 14 (no class on January 17 or February 21)
Mondays, 6-8 pm
Class Location: Online via Zoom
Field Trips: January 29 at ANS-Woodend, February 19 at Rachel Carson Conservation Area, March 5 at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, all 9:30 am-2 pm
Course Fees: ANS members $350, nonmembers $400

Required Books: 
• Mammal Tracks & Sign: A Guide to North American Species, 2nd edition, Author(s): Mark Elbroch, Publisher: Stackpole Books ISBN-10:0811737748; ISBN-13:978-0811737746

• Peterson Field Guide to Mammals of North America, Fourth Edition, Author(s): Fiona Reid, Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN: 0395935962

Suggested Reading: 
• Animal Skulls: A Guide to North American Species by Mark Elbroch

• Camera Trapping Guide: Tracks, Sign, and Behavior of Eastern Wildlife by Janet Pesaturo

About Your Instructor:

Naturalist Kerry Wixted

Kerry Wixted

Kerry Wixted is an Education and Outreach Specialist for Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources. She coordinates projects, develops wildlife resource material involving rare/threatened/endangered species, and conducts workshops on invasive species. She’s taught courses in biology, physiology, and ecology. M.S., Biology, West Virginia University.

Night Sky for Naturalists (February 9 - March 16)

previous arrow
next arrow


NATH8100E, 1.5 CEUs

This course provides a basic introduction to astronomy that emphasizes an appreciation of Earth's relationship to the universe. Topics covered include the celestial sphere, celestial navigation, motions of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars, telescopes, timekeeping, phases, and motions of the Moon, tides, and eclipses. The connection between astronomical phenomena and living things will be explored.

Field trips will provide hands-on experience with telescopes at the Montgomery College Astronomical Observatory, including both solar and nighttime observing.

Class Schedule: February 9 - March 16, Wednesdays, 6-8 pm
Class Location: Online via Zoom
Field Trips: March 4 to Montgomery College Observatory 11-2 pm; March 11 to Montgomery College Observatory 6-9 pm
Course Fees: ANS members $200, nonmembers $250

Required Book: 
OpenStax Astronomy, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 (available free online)

Suggested Reading: 
Stellarium (available free online)

About Your Instructor:

Carrie Fitzgerald, PhD

Carrie Fitzgerald, Ph.D.

Carrie Fitzgerald, Ph.D. is a professor at Montgomery College in the Engineering, Physical, and Computer Sciences department where she teaches astronomy and physics. She also serves as the director of The Montgomery College Astronomical Observatory located on the Rockville campus. Carrie is proud to be a NASA Solar System Ambassador, providing astronomy education and public outreach for community groups, public schools, and nonprofits. She earned her B.S. from Stetson University where she majored in Physics. She completed her M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Weather and Climate (January 13 - March 17)


NATH7140E, 3 CEUs

This class will explore the fundamentals of weather and climate on earth. We will begin by taking a close look at the planetary physics that inform atmospheric wind and heat patterns, which deeply impact seasons and even local weather conditions! We will then dive into the oceans to understand how marine microorganisms are the single largest contributor to overall climate conditions, and how the chemistry and physics of water help modulate weather. We’ll then take a step onto land to look at how humans have impacted every bit of the equation, from ocean chemistry to the air we breathe.

You’ll leave the class understanding climate change, its causes and solutions, of how the earth works, and will be able to connect the information on your weather app to science you can explain.

Class Schedule: January 13 - March 17, Thursdays, 6-8 pm
Class Location: Online via Zoom
Field Trips:TBA, will be announced during the first class. Field trips will be led by Isha M. Renta López
Course Fees: ANS members $350, nonmembers $400

Required Book: 

Suggested Reading: 
The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan;
6th IPCC Report:

About Your Instructor:

Ari Eisenstadt

Ari Eisenstadt

Ari Eisenstadt earned his undergraduate degree in geology and master’s degree in chemical oceanography from the University of Rochester in upstate New York. His research focused on measuring the amount of methane and carbon dioxide dissolved in the waters of the Great Lakes, to accurately understand freshwater contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. During graduate school, Ari spent a year as a corps member with City Year New York, supporting and advocating for youth in a Brooklyn public school. This experience informs Ari’s drive to bring trauma-informed practices to educational spaces. Before moving to California, Ari worked for the Audubon Naturalist Society as the DC Conservation Advocate. He currently works for the California Environmental Justice Alliance, and lives in Los Angeles. Ari is a proud transgender person, and uses the pronouns he/him/his.

About Your Field Trip Instructor:

Isha M. Renta López

Isha M. Renta López

Isha M. Renta López serves as a Program Analyst in NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR). In her position, she supports Strategic Councils and the projects under it, such as the NOAA Science Report, NOAA R&D policies, portfolio progress and scientific integrity. Previous to joining OAR, Isha was a forecaster for the National Weather Service Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office. Before that, Isha worked as a Research Meteorologist at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, VA where she ran and maintained the Navy’s COAMPS model, with focus on coastal boundary layer research, weather and radar refraction forecasting, and the setup of weather instrumentation at Navy radar test sites. Isha has a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Puerto Rico, and a Master's Degree in Atmospheric Sciences from Howard University.


What students say about
Natural History Field Studies:

“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.”
- R. Gray, NHFS Student