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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.


Fall | WinterCertificate 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.


Fall Courses 2016

September 19 - November 23, 2016

coyote2Mammals
NATH8290E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time:  Mondays, 7- 9:15 p.m.
Class duration: September 19-November 21
Field trip dates: October 15, November 5
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Kerry Wixted
Register online

Examine the characteristics, physiology, adaptations, ecology and behavior of mammals with emphasis 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. Field trips will include nocturnal and diurnal observation of wild mammals in their natural habitats.

Required Reading:

  1. Mammal Tracks & Sign: A Guide to North American Species by Mark Elbroch , ISBN-10: 0811726266, ISBN-13: 978-0811726269
  2. Peterson Field Guide to Mammals of North America, Fourth Edition, by Fiona Reid, ISBN-10: 0395935962, ISBN-13: 978-0395935965

Introduction to Ecology280px-FoodWeb
NATH1160E, 2 credits
Class day and time: Mondays, 6-8 p.m.
Class duration: September 19-November 28
Field trip dates: October 23, November 12
Location: Capital Gallery, DC
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Amanda Rose Newton
Register online
A fundamental understanding of ecology and the physical and biological principles on which ecosystems depend is essential for any naturalist. In this course students learn to interpret the patterns and processes of nature by studying energy flow, food webs, biogeochemical cycles, population dynamics, communities, behavioral and evolutionary ecology, biodiversity, biomes and plant/animal interactions. A previous course in biology is strongly recommended. ACE College Credit Recommendation Service Reviewed.

Required Reading: Ecology: Concepts and Applications by Manuel Molles, latest edition preferred, but older editions acceptable.

fall foliageFall Woody Plant Identification
NATH7145E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time: Tuesdays, 6-8 p.m.
Class duration: September 13-November 15
Field trip dates: September 24, October 15 and 29
Location: Capital Gallery, DC
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Emily Ferguson
Register online
As summer fades and fall colors emerge, do you wonder which trees contribute to the kaleidoscope brightening our environment? Now's the time to take another item off of your 'to do' list and learn to identify the trees surrounding you. Participants will study the major woody plant families and species found in the Mid-Atlantic's forest communities. Field trips feature the use of recognition characteristics and botanical keys to identify many local woody plants. Students should have a 10x hand lens. There will be no class on September 20.

Required Reading:

  1. The Illustrated Book of Trees by William C. Grimm, rev. ed (by John Kartesz), Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002
  2. Common Native Trees of Virginia, 2010 edition

Recommended Reading:

  1. The Sibley Guide to Trees by David Allen Sibley. 2010
  2. Woody Plants of Maryland by Russell G. Brown and Melvin L. Brown (limited availability)

Bird LifeFeathers
NATH7115E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time: Wednesdays, 7-9 p.m.
Class duration: September 21-November 23
Field trip dates: October 1 and 23, and November 19
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Mark England
Register online
Study the life histories and ecology of resident and migrant birds of the Central Atlantic region. Emphasis is on birding techniques, use of field guides, introduction to birdsong, and identification of our area's birds. Bird forms and adaptations, habitats, plumage, migration, and conservation are also covered. The course features a field trip to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland as well as two other field trips.

Required Reading: Any good field guide to the birds of eastern North America

Recommended Reading: Birding Essentials, by Jon Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer, National Geographic Press

SOIL PROFILEThe Living Soil
NATH1175E, 2 credits
Class day and time: Wednesdays, 7-9 p.m.
Class duration: September 14-November 23
Field trip dates: October 1 and 23, and November 12
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Joel Cohen
Register online
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 and the significance of these factors to plant growth and other uses. Discover the biodiversity of life in the soil, experience hands-on labs on soil groups and soil properties. Field trips to natural land resource areas of the Central Atlantic region. Previous courses in wetlands and biology are helpful. There will be no class on Oct. 12. ACE College Credit Recommendation Service Reviewed.

Required Reading: Soil Science Simplified, Fourth Edition, by Helmut Kohnke and D.P. Franzmeier , Waveland Press, Inc.; Long Grove, Illinois

ISBN: 978-0-88133-813-3

Birds of Preyosprey
NATH7155E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time: Thursdays, 7-9 p.m.
Class duration: September 29-November 17
Field trip dates: October 8 (Cape May), November 5 (Waggoner's Gap) and one TBA
Location: Oakton High School, VA
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Liam McGranaghan
Register online

Experience the wonder of the fall raptor migration and learn to identify raptors in flight. Study habitat requirements of birds of prey and their relationships to other species. This course will concentrate on species typically found in eastern North America but will also cover additional selected species. Three field trips are planned, with one likely to be to Cape May.

Required Reading: The Raptor Almanac: A Comprehensive Guide to Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, and Vultures by Scott Weidensaul

Recommended Reading: A raptor identification guide, such as Crossley ID Guide: Raptors by Richard Crossley or Peterson Field Guides to Hawks of North America by William Clark and Brian Wheeler

Winter Courses 2017

January - March 2017

Understanding Evolutiondarwin
NATH 8201E, 1.5 CEUs
Class day and time:
 Tuesdays, 7-9 p.m. 
Class duration: February 21-March 21, 2017
Field trip dates: March 4
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $259
Instructor: Jane Huff
Explore the theory of evolution, the "grand idea of natural science." Consider the biological bases for evolution, including genetics, natural selection, sexual selection, and survival strategies. Read Darwin's "The Origin of Species," review the intellectual background of evolution from Aristotle to Wallace, and survey the modern literature of evolution, including Mayr, Dawkins and E.O. Wilson. Topics are presented for the layperson and amateur naturalist, but a  background in biology is helpful. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

PollutionHuman Ecology
NATH 8280E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time: Wednesdays, 7-9 p.m.
Class duration: January 18–March 22, 2017
Field trip dates: TBA
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Gogi Kalka
Although existing in habitats of their own design, humans cannot escape the biological and physical constraints on energy use, food production, population and interactions with other species. Applying ecological principles, students examine the interactions of the human population, the use of renewable and non-renewable resources and pollution problems and solutions. Course discussions focus on the ecological, economic and political considerations of dealing with environmental problems in the new century. Recommended prior course:Introduction to Ecology (NATH1160E), or equivalent. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

Land-Use PrinciplesLandUsePlanning
NATH8255E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time: 
Wednesdays, 7-9 p.m.
Class duration: January 18–March 22, 2017
Field trip dates: TBA
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Katherine Nelson
Land-use planning decisions made in your community affect you every day: Your decision to walk, drive or bike; the placement of parks and green space, your sense of place and connection to the past. Gain a working understanding of the legal and regulatory principles as well as the political forces at work in making land use decisions. Sustainable design and smart growth propose solutions to the tradeoffs between land and people, economic development and environmental protection. This class pulls together courses on ecosystems, conservation, and human ecology to explore how you can influence our existing and future-built environment to fit into the natural environment. Field trips show how principles and practices are being applied close to home. There will be no class on Feb. 22. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be canceled.

MDGeoRegGeology
NATH 1125, 2 credits
Class day and time:
 Thursdays, 6-9 p.m. 
Class duration: January 19-March 23, 2017
Field trip dates: February 25 and March 11
Location: Capital Gallery, DC
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Joe Marx
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 local earthquakes are rare now, this area broke in two twice and oceans flowed in. Central Atlantic geology tells a story as fascinating as any place on the planet. Course lectures introduce the landscapes, subsurface structures and geologic history of our region. Two field trips emphasize the recognition of local landforms and of the geological processes that created them. 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.

Rock Identification
NATH7160E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time: Saturdays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Class meetings: January 21-March 25
Field Trip dates: during every class
Location: Capital Gallery, DC
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Joe Marx
The field identification of rocks requires knowing how to conduct a simple chemical test, recognize six common minerals, and distinguish about ten aspects of rock texture and appearance. In this course, we will learn these skills and then apply them systematically to identify the twenty-five or so types of rock common in the Mid-Atlantic. A hand lens or magnifying glass with a magnification of 6 to 10x is required. Each class session will include a walk outside to look at rock samples. 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 2016
Weather and Climate NATH1140E 3 CEUs Fall Annually; Spring course in 2016

 
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 Next offered in 2016
Reptiles and Amphibians NATH8276E 3 CEUs Spring Alternate years; next offered
in 2016
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 Annually
Wetland Ecosystems NATH8211E 3 CEUs Summer Annually


Conservation (complete 2 courses):

Course Title Course Code Units Term Comments
Conservation Philosophy NATH8250E 3 CEUs Winter Alternates with Am. Nature Lit.;
next offered in 2018
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
American Nature Literature NATH8248E 3 CEUs Winter Alternates with Conservation
Philosophy; next offered in 2017
Animal Behavior NATH1151E 2 credits Winter Next offered in 2016
Biodiversity TBA 3 CEUs Spring Alternate years; next offered
in 2017
Bird Life NATH7115E 3 CEUs Fall Annually
Birds of Prey NATH7155E 3 CEUs Fall Alternate years; next offered in 2016
Early Summer Butterflies NATH8270E 1.5 CEUs Summer New in 2016
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
(formerly Mushroom ID)
NATH7203E 1.5 CEUs Summer Alternate years; next offered
in 2016
Late Summer Butterflies NATH8271E 1.5 CEUs Summer New in 2017
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 2016
Owls NATH7165E 1.5 CEUs Fall Alternate years; next offered
in 2017
Rock ID NATHxxxxE 3 CEUs Winter 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
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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