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Continuing Education
Natural History Field Studies Program

Cosponsored with the Graduate School USA since 1961

Did you know that when you sign up for a NHFS course a portion of your tuition comes back to ANS? Income from this unique program helps us carry out our dual mission of environmental education and conservation in the greater DC metro area.


Spring | SummerCertificate Program/Required Courses | Registration | Instructor Bios

Fulfill Your Dream — Become a Naturalist!

9 21Carderock2

ANS Senior Naturalist Stephanie Mason introduces nature enthusiasts to spring blooms, butterflies, and birds along the C&O Canal.

Thirty-six 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 and applications 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. (See chart below for course requirements/options. A credit is equal to 1.5 CEUs.) For more information or to indicate your intent to pursue the Certificate, please email the certificate counselor or call 202-314-3320.

Classes are offered at several locations around the Washington, DC area, including 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.

 

Spring Courses 2017 

April 8 - June 19, 2017

ecosystem diversityBiodiversity
NATH7301E, 1.5 CEUs
Class day and time: Tuesdays, 7-9 pm
Class duration: May 16–June 13
Field trip dates: May 20 and June 3
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $269
Instructor: Joel Cohen
Register online
Use the sciences of genetics, evolutionary biology, and ecology to learn what biological diversity is and why it is important. Examine benefits of and threats to biodiversity, study local and global biodiversity, and learn methods of classifying and protecting populations. Special emphasis is given to the sixth extinction event and species decline caused by humans. Discover diversity in differing environments on two field trips. Previous courses in Biology for Naturalists and Introduction to Ecology recommended. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be cancelled.

Required reading: 

  1. Biodiversity an Introduction, Second Edition, by Kevin Gaston and John Spicer; Blackwell publishing; 2004. ISBN 1-4051-1837-1
  2. Perspectives on Biodiversity: Case Studies of Genetic Resource Conservation and Development, Edited by C.S. Potter and J.I. Cohen, AAAS Press, 1993, Waldorf, Maryland, USA. ISBN 0-87168-512-4

Recommended reading: The Diversity of Life, by E.O. Wilson. 1992. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-21298-3

Biology for Naturalists220px-Biological classification.svg
NATH7110E, 2 credits

Class day and time: Tuesdays, 7–9 pm
Class duration: April 11–June 13
Field trip dates: May 6 and June 3
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Jane Huff
Register online
Explore basic biological principles and theories with hands-on examples drawn from the natural world around us. Understand the classification and adaptations of organisms as we explore living things. Outdoor activities and field trips will help you develop the naturalist's way of seeing. This course is recommended background for other courses in the Natural History Field Studies Certificate program. 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 cancelled.

Recommended reading: Natural History by Michael Runtz. 2013.

Plant physiologyBotany for Naturalists
NATH7125E, 1.5 CEUs
Class day and time: Wednesdays, 7–9 pm
Class duration: April 12–May 10
Field trip dates: April 22 and May 6
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $269
Instructor: Sujata Roy
Register online
Study the science of plants, which provide the oxygen that supports life as we know it on earth. Learn about the internal workings of vascular and avascular plants, their life histories, special adaptations for growth and reproduction and their place in ecological cycles. Two field trips are planned: one to a local site of great plant diversity and one to a herbarium. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be cancelled.

Required reading: Botany for Gardeners, Third Edition, by Bruce Capon. Timber Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1604690958.

Recommended reading: Biology of Plants, Seventh Edition, by Peter F. Raven et al W.H. Freeman and Company, 2009. ISBN 978-1429239950. This book is widely available at a reasonable cost. It is substantially similar to the current, eighth, edition.

Introduction to OrnithologyFeathers
NATH7118E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time: Wednesdays, 7-9 pm
Class duration: April 12–June 14
Field trip dates: April 29 (8 am-12 pm, Hughes Hollow), May 20 (7 am-2 pm, Delaware coast) and June 3 (7 am-3 pm, Western MD)
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Gemma Radko
Register online
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.

Required reading: The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior by Chris Elphick, John B. Dunning, Jr., David Allen Sibley.  2001.  Alfred A. Knopf, NY.  ISBN 0-679-45123-4

SOIL PROFILEThe Living Soil
NATH1175E, 2 credits
Class day and time: Mondays, 6-8 pm
Class duration: April 10-June 19
Field trip dates: April 22 (9 am-1 pm), May 13 (9 am-2 pm) and June 6 (9 am-1 pm)
Location: Capital Gallery, Washington DC
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Katherine Nelson
Register online
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. 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.

Required readingElements of the Nature and Properties of Soils by Nyle C. Brady and Ray R. Weil. 2009. ISBN 978-0135014332

Summer Courses 2017 

June 26 – September 11, 2017

Butterflies of Late Summer MonarchButterfly
NATH8271E
1.5 CEU
Class day and time: Thursdays, 6-8 pm
Class duration:  August 10–September 7
Field trip dates:  August 19 and 26 and September 2 (2 required; Sunday rain dates)
Location:  Capital Gallery, DC
Tuition: $269
Instructor:  Rick Borchelt
Register online
Midsummer through early fall offer a diversity of butterflies and their associated host plants distinctly different from the butterfly fauna of spring and early summer. Participants will learn to identify butterflies in the mid-Atlantic that fly from midsummer through frost, organized by the time of their principal flight period; study the principles of butterfly classification; observe and understand migration in many of the late-season butterflies; observe and document caterpillar host and adult nectar sources; and participate in citizen-science documentation of butterfly diversity and abundance. Two all-day and one half-day field trips will include a focus on butterfly conservation in a variety of habitats. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

RoyalFernFerns and Lycophytes
NATH7148E, 1.5 CEUs
Class day and time: Thursdays, 6–8 pm
Class duration: June 29–July 27
Field trip dates: July 15 and 22
Location: Capital Gallery, DC
Tuition: $269
Instructor: Carl Taylor
Register online
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.

Insect Life HoneyBee
NATH7130E, 3 CEU
Class day and time: 6:30–8:30 pm
Class duration: June 27–September 5
Field trip dates: July 15 (8:30 am-12 pm), July 29 (8:30 am-12 pm) and August 12 (6-9 pm)
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Cathy Stragar
Register online
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.

Summer Tanager Piranga rubraSummer Bird Life
NATH7116E, 1.5 CEUs
Class day and time: Wednesday, 7–9 pm
Class duration: August 9-30
Field trip dates: August 19 and 27
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $269
Instructor: Gemma Radko
Register online
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.

Summer Wildflower IdentificationCommon Milkweed 
NATH7149E, 1.5 CEUs
Class day and time: Wednesday, 7–9:15 pm
Class duration: June 21–July 19
Field trip dates:  June 24 and July 15
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $269
Instructor: Sujata Roy
Register online
From milkweeds and morning glories to orchids and asters, summer presents a diverse array of wildflowers for study of plant family characteristics and ways to identify different species. Field trips to two scenic locations for summer wildflowers provide an opportunity for practice in the use of identification guides. Previous Spring Flower Identification class or similar course is recommended but not required. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

TidalWetlandsChesapeakeWetland Ecosystems
NATH8211E, 3 CEU
Class day and time: Monday, 6–8 pm
Class duration: June 26-August 28
Field trip dates: July 8 (Battle Creek Swamp), July 15 (Jug Bay) and July 22 (Suitland Bog)
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor:Terry McTigue
Register online
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. Three field trips will be scheduled later. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled. 


Registration is Easy! You can sign up ...

  • Online HERE
  • By phone: 202-314-3320 or toll free at 888-744-GRAD
  • By fax: 866-FAX-GRAD or 202-475-6843
  • By USPS:  Registrars Office, Suite 120, 600 Maryland Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 2004
  • In person at the Registrars office, Mon-Fri, 8 am-7 pm.

Bookshop Open!
On the first night of classes held at Woodend, our Sanctuary Shop will be open for a half hour prior toclass for students to buy books and other items. A special 20% discount will be offered to field studies students. We usually carry textbooks for classes, but call to confirm (301-652-3606).

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 REQUIRED COURSES (Complete 39 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) taken in five subject areas. A credit is equal to 1.5 CEUs.)


Basic Studies (complete 3 courses):

Course Title Course Code Units Term Comments
Biology for Naturalists NATH1110E 2 credits Spring Annually
Geology NATH1125E 2 credits Winter Annually
The Living Soil NATH1175E 2 credits Spring, Fall Annually in Spring; Fall course in 2018
Weather and Climate NATH7140E 3 CEUs Fall Annually

 
Identification Courses
(complete 3 courses, to include 1 plant and 1 animal course):

Course Title Course Code Units Term Comments
Fall Woody Plant Identification NATH7145E 3 CEUs Fall Annually
Insect Life NATH7130E 3 CEUs Summer Annually
Introduction to Ornithology NATH7118E 3 CEUs Spring Annually
Mammals NATH8290E 3 CEUs Fall Alternate years; next offered 
in 2018
Reptiles and Amphibians NATH8276E 3 CEUs Spring Alternate years; next offered
in 2018
Spring Flower Identification NATH7135E 3 CEUs Spring Annually
Winter Woody Plant Identification NATH7146E 3 CEUs Winter Annually


Ecosystems (complete 2 courses):

Course Title Course Code Units Term Comments
Introduction to Ecology NATH1160E 2 credits Fall Annually
Eastern Forest Ecosystems NATH8215E 3 CEUs Fall Alternate years; next offered in 2017
Chesapeake Bay Ecosystems
NATH8216E 3 CEUs Fall Alternate years; next offered in 2017
Stream Ecology NATH8127E 3 CEUs Spring Alternate years; next offered in 2018
Wetland Ecosystems NATH8211E 3 CEUs Summer Annually


Conservation (complete 2 courses):

Course Title Course Code Units Term Comments
Land-Use Principles NATH8255E 3 CEUs Winter Annually
Human Ecology NATH8280E 3 CEUs Winter Next offered in 2017


Electives:

Course Title Course Code Units Term Comments
Animal Behavior NATH1151E 2 credits Winter Not currently scheduled
Biodiversity NATH7301E 3 CEUs Spring Alternate years; next offered
in 2017
Bird Life NATH7115E 3 CEUs Fall Next offered in 2018
Birds of Prey NATH7155E 3 CEUs Fall Alternate years; next offered in 2018
Butterflies of Early Summer NATH8270E 1.5 CEUs Summer Alternate years; next offered in 2018
Butterflies of Late Summer NATH8210E 1.5 CEUs Summer New in 2017
Ferns and Lycophytes NATH7148E 1.5 CEUs Summer Alternate years; next offered
in 2017
Introduction to Grass
Identification
NATH8225E 1.5 CEUs Summer Not currently scheduled
Introduction to Fungi NATH7203E 1.5 CEUs Summer Alternate years; next offered
in 2018
Night Sky for Naturalists NATH8100E 1.5 CEUs Fall Not currently scheduled
Non-Native Invasive Plants
of the Mid-Atlantic
NATH8319E 1.5 CEUs Summer Next offered in 2018
Owls NATH7165E 1.5 CEUs Fall Alternate years; next offered
in 2018
Rock Identification NATH7150E 3 CEUs Winter Alternate years; next offered 
in 2018
Spring Birding NATH7187E 1.5 CEUs Spring Not currently scheduled
Summer Bird Life NATH7116E 1.5 CEUs Summer Alternate years; next offered
in 2017
Summer Wildflower Identification NATH7149E 1.5 CEUs Summer Annually
Understanding Evolution NATH8201E 1.5 CEUs Winter Alternate years; next offered 
in 2017
Wildlife Ecology NATH8265E 3 CEUs Winter Not currently scheduled
Winter Bird Life NATH7163E 1.5 CEUs Winter Alternate years; next offered in 2018

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