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Adult Classes and Field Trips

ANS offers walks and classes on the wild side throughout the area.  Check out a map of our field trip destinations. 

Explore the Great Outdoors with the Experts!
These programs offer nature novices and experienced naturalists alike an array of opportunities to explore and learn about our area’s natural history. All programs are led by experienced naturalists. Lectures are held at Woodend Sanctuary. Field trips are reached by private vehicle or carpool.

Questions? Email Senior Naturalist Stephanie Mason or call Stephanie at 301-652-9188 x37. For registration information, email Pam Oves or call Pam at 301-652-9188 x16. To register for a program, please mail or fax the registration form or register online.





  • Online registration begins in June for programs in August and beyond!
  • Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers recommended for this service.
  • All adult program participants will be "New Users" the fi rst time they register.
  • All changes/cancellations/transfers must be handled through the EE office.
  • Have a credit postcard? Call Pam at 301-652-9188 x 16 to hear options.
  • Questions? Call Pam at 301-652-9188 x16 or email pam.oves@anshome.org

May I bring along children on ANS adult field trips?

janice browne_adultprograms

Cancellation Policy

To qualify for a credit if you cancel a program, you must give at least six business days' notice, i.e. you can't cancel on a Monday for a weekend program and still receive a credit. The credit postcard will be mailed to you less a $5 administrative fee and must be included with a registration form to be valid. Call 301-652-9188 x 16 or email Pam Oves to cancel.

If ANS cancels a program, you will receive a full refund.

Upcoming Classes / Field Trips



Geology at Great Falls, Maryland  FULL
Saturday, July 12 (8:30-11 am)
Leader Joe Marx
Members $20; nonmembers $26
People in our region find Great Falls both fascinating and perplexing. Arguably our most dramatic landscape feature, its origin and development remain obscure to many. We will take a short and easy walk from the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center to the falls overlook, a round trip of about a mile. During the walk, we will discuss how the bedrock of the Great Falls area formed in tectonic collisions hundreds of millions of years ago and how the waxing and waning of the continental glacier led to the much more recent creation of the falls. There should even be time to examine the flora and birdlife along our path. Registration required, please use registration form.

spicebushBotany by Nose
Sunday, July 13 (8:30-Noon)
Leader Carole Bergmann
Members $24; nonmembers $34
While most of us rely on visual clues to help us identify the plants that comprise our landscape, our sense of smell can be an important, complementary tool. Anyone who has broken a Spicebush or Black Birch twig can confirm that. Our outdoor classroom will be Little Bennett Park near Clarksburg, MD, as we “scratch and sniff” our way through woodland and wetland habitats. Registration required, please use registration form.

Summer Shuffles Along the Canal
Wednesdays (9-11:30 am)
Section C: July 16 - Carderock
Section D: July 30 - Swain’s Lock
Leader Stephanie Mason
Each walk members $20; nonmembers $28
Summer’s here and it may be hot, so we’ll keep our pace to a shuffle as we visit three areas along the Potomac River and the C&O Canal. We’ll stop often to observe birds, wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies, snakes, and whatever else we may find underfoot or overhead. Carpooling will be available from Woodend. Registration required, please use registration form.

Western MD Bogs, Butterflies and Birds FULL
Saturday, July 19 to Monday, July 21
Leader Rick Borchelt

Summer Walks on the Wild Side
B: Saturday, July 19 - Theodore Roosevelt Island, DC (8-11:30 am)
C: Sunday, July 27 - Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge, VA (7:30-11 am)
A: Sunday, June 29 - Natural Area of Patuxent River Park, MD (8:30 am-Noon)
Leaders Stephanie Mason and Cathy Stragar
Each walk members $24; nonmembers $34
Join two naturalists to explore the summer richness of parks along area waterways. As summer arrives and progresses into its hot, muggy days and nights, wetlands and meadows soak up the sun and come alive with plant and wildlife activity. We’ll explore these open habitats with walks of up to 2-3 miles, at a slow summer pace, in search of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles, amphibians, and summer plant life. Registration required, please use registration form.

Bees in the Backyard
Saturday, July 19 (9:30 am-Noon)
Leader Nate Erwin
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Discover the diversity of native bees and other pollinators right outside your doorstep and in your garden. Join our leader in his home garden in Alexandria, VA and in surrounding natural areas for a look at what’s helping produce many of the seeds and fruits in your neighborhood. Nate Erwin is an entomologist working on collections at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Registration required, please use registration form.

MuskratPaddle on the Patuxent
Sunday, July 20 (9 am-1 pm)
Leader Jug Bay volunteers
Members $30; nonmembers $42
Enjoy a leisurely paddle through tidal marshes and along the Patuxent River’s edge at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Anne Arundel County, MD. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open for turtles, muskrats, eagles, osprey, and other wildlife. Cost includes canoe fee and sanctuary entrance fee. Participants can explore the sanctuary on their own after the canoe trip. Limited to 15 participants who will walk one mile each way to access the canoes. Registration required, please use registration form.

Sunset Stroll in the Hollow  SORRY - CANCELLED
Sunday, July 20 (7-9 pm)
Leader Stephanie Mason
Members $20; nonmembers $28
Enjoy a slow evening stroll through the field, forest, and wetland habitats of the Hughes Hollow area, south of Poolesville, MD. As the sun sets, we’ll look and listen for owls, frogs, foxes, beavers, bats, and insects, discussing the adaptations of these crepuscular and nocturnal animals. Registration required, please use registration form.

Native Plant Gardening for Homeowners
Summer Walk: Wednesday, July 23 (10 am-Noon)
Fall Walk: Wednesday, October 22 (10 am-Noon)

Leader Stephanie Mason
Each walk members $20; nonmembers $28
Explore the Blair Native Plant Garden, located just outside the Sanctuary Shop, with our Senior Naturalist, who helped develop the garden and its educational focus. Find out more about the value of using native plants, such as: lower maintenance; greater appeal to birds, butterflies and other insects, including pollinators; reduced negative impact on local ecosystems; and more. We’ll discuss native alternatives to popular non-native species such as English ivy, as well as resources for expanding one’s knowledge and understanding of plants native to the mid-Atlantic. Sign up for the whole series to observe changes in the garden over the season—or pick and choose separate walks. You’re welcome to bring along a bag lunch to eat with the leader after the walk. Registration required, please use registration form.

Summer Wildflower Walk
Saturday, July 26 (8:30 am-Noon)
Leader Sujata Roy
Members $24; nonmembers $ 34
Under the guidance of a naturalist who knows this park well, we’ll search the open meadows and wetlands of Black Hill Regional Park in upper Montgomery County for the showy blooms of summer. We’ll focus on the identifying characteristics of the most common plant families in bloom this time of year. Be prepared for field conditions in full sun with tall vegetation. Registration required, please use registration form.

woollybearcaterpillarThe Natural History of Caterpillars SORRY CANCELLED
Thursday, July 31 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Saturday, August 2 (9 am-3 pm)
Leader Nate Erwin
Members $46; nonmembers $64
Lecture only members $20; nonmembers $28
Here’s a chance to learn about caterpillars’ many forms and their fascinating life histories, including defense strategies. We’ll find and identify local caterpillars and discuss their host plant associations. With entomologist Nate Erwin, we’ll combine an evening presentation at Woodend with field exploration at Hughes Hollow, near Poolesville, MD. Registration required, please use registration form.


DamselflyIntroduction to Dragonfly and Damselfly Studies
Thursday, August 7 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Sunday, August 10 (3/4 day field trip)
Leader  Richard Orr
Members $46; nonmembers $64
Lecture only $20/$28
Grab your binoculars and prepare to set your sights not on birds — although “mosquito hawk” is a common moniker — but on those six-legged, aerial acrobats of wetland habitats: the dragonflies and damselflies. On Thursday evening, local entomologist and dragonfly expert Richard Orr will use slides and videos to discuss identification, biology, and behavior of the more common species of Odonates in our area. Our field trip to the Patuxent Research Refuge near Bowie, MD, where our leader has conducted dragonfly studies, will give us a chance to test our identification skills. Register online.

Crickets Count! Citizen
Science Activity
Friday, August 22 (after dark)
Be a part of the third annual DC/Baltimore Cricket Crawl. Participants will learn the songs of eight species of crickets and katydids, then spend a few minutes to listen for their songs and send in their observations.  For details on this citizen science project, which ANS is cosponsoring, check out this link: http://www.discoverlife.org/cricket/DC/. Get free training through the no-fee Crickets Count Listening Walks, which will convene outside our ANS Sanctuary Shop on August 7 and 14 from 8:30-10 pm. Please RSVP for these listening walks through www.meetup.com/marylandnature/. The walks will be posted in mid-July. Rain date for the Cricket Count is August 23.


Fall Birding Series
A: Sunday, September 7: Paint Branch Trail, MD (Mark England) (7-10 am)
B. Saturday, September 20: Glover-Archbold Park, DC  (John Bjerke) (7-10 am)
C: Sunday, October 5: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, DC  (Mike Bowen) (7:30-10:30 am)
D: Saturday, October 18: Lois Green Conservation Park, MD (Mark England) (7:30-10:30 am)
E: Sunday, October 26: Occoquan Bay NWR, VA (Mark England) (8-11 am)
F: Saturday, November 1: Jug Bay Natural Area, MD (John Bjerke) (8-11 am)
G: Saturday, November 8: Dyke Marsh, VA  (Mike Bowen) (8-11 am)
Each walk members $24; nonmembers $34
Entire Series: $143/$201
Our fall birding series visits seven protected areas, all under an hour’s drive from D.C., where a variety of habitats — including field, forest, and wetland — provide good opportunities for the observation and identification of birds in autumn. On the earliest walks, we’ll hope to catch some southbound migrants. As the season progresses, we’ll watch for sparrows, raptors, waterfowl, and other birds. These teaching walks are aimed at beginning to mid-level birders, but all are welcome. Most of our explorations will be on natural surface trails that may be uneven or muddy. Walks B, D, & F includes some uphill and downhill. Register online.

220px-Big brown batBat Chat
Thursday, September 11 (7:30-9 pm)
Leader  Fred Seitz
Free, but registration required.
Come and explore the natural history and conservation concerns of the bats of our region with this program at our Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, MD. We will learn about the habits and habitats of these fascinating mammals through a slide lecture. We’ll also head out onto the sanctuary grounds for a short search for bats in the evening sky. Our leader is a Master Naturalist Volunteer with a particular passion for these flying mammals. Register online.

Evening on the Canal
Saturday, September 13 (6:45-8:45 pm)
Leader  Stephanie Mason
Members $20; nonmembers $28
Join senior naturalist Stephanie Mason on a walk through the woods and along the Potomac River’s C&O Canal beginning at Pennyfield Lock near Potomac, MD. As day gives way to dusk — and then to nightfall — we’ll look and listen for owls, foxes, bats, katydids, moths, and other nocturnal and crepuscular animals, discussing the adaptations of creatures whose “day” begins as ours ends. Register online.

Fall Flight at Cromwell Valley Park
Sunday, September 14 (3/4 day field trip)
Leaders  Hal Wierenga and Lynn Davidson
Members $30; nonmembers $42
Bring along a folding chair and cross your fingers for a good day of raptor flight at this hawk watch in Baltimore County, just outside the northern side of the Baltimore Beltway. Our trip is scheduled close to peak for the southward passage of Broad-wing Hawks in massive numbers. Of course, we can’t control weather conditions or migratory pulses, but our leaders will do their best to give you a productive day of birding. That will include exploring some of Cromwell Valley Park’s trails for fall migrant songbirds, and perhaps even heading out to other close-by locations in the afternoon if the hawk flight is slow. Register online.

240px-maidenhair fernFerns of Gunpowder Falls State Park: Perry Hall Area
Sunday, September 14 (1-5 pm)
Leader  Dwight Johnson
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Here’s a chance to learn (or relearn) to recognize some of our native ferns in the field.  Aimed at beginners and those wanting to refresh their knowledge, this walk will visit an area where an assortment of common—and a few not-so-common—ferns can be IDed using our leader’s key and methodology in a place he knows well. Our walk will cover about 2 miles on a flat, natural surface trail with a few small stream crossings. Register online.

Midweek Meanders Along the Canal
Wednesdays (10 am-12:30 pm)
A: September 17 - Riley’s Lock
B: October 1 - Carderock
C: October 15 - Pennyfield Lock
D: October 29 - Violettes Lock
E: November 12 - Widewater
Leader  Stephanie Mason
Each walk members $20; nonmembers $28
Entire series $85/$119
Enjoy one or all of these leisurely autumn walks along portions of the C&O Canal that enjoy less traffic than the towpath stretches close to Washington. The focus of our walks, each beginning from a different location, will be general natural history of the varied habitats along the Potomac River and the C&O Canal. We’ll proceed at a “naturalist’s shuffle” pace, stopping often to observe birds, fall wildflowers and foliage, butterflies, snakes, turtles — and whatever else we might find. Participants interested in carpooling will meet at Woodend. Register online.

Georgetown Geology Loop Hike
Sunday, September 21 (9 am-1 pm)
Leader  Joe Marx
Members $24; nonmembers $34
The Georgetown section of Washington, DC sits squarely on a mass of ancient granite, surrounded by various other types and ages of rock. Our hike will be about 5 miles long, through wooded parkland and along city streets. The terrain is easy to moderate, with hills being the biggest challenge. During our hike, we will visit the Coastal Plain, three canyons, the Piedmont upland, and a major fault zone. Not bad for a walk around town. (Note: this hike will move at a faster pace than our usual naturalists’ shuffle.) Register online.

Fall Butterflies of the Occoquan Wildlife Refuge
Sunday, September 21 (full-day field trip)
Leaders  Dick Smith and Stephanie Mason
Members $34; nonmembers $46
A former military research station, the 644-acre Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Occoquan Rivers south of Alexandria, VA. More than 60 butterfly species have been recorded among its wet meadows, expanses of native grasses, and extensive shoreline. We’ll explore a variety of habitats for late-season butterflies, such as Sleepy Orange, Buckeye, Cloudless Sulphur, and Monarch, among others. We’ll walk up to 3 miles in generally open and sunny terrain. Register online.

Natural Heritage Series:  Soldiers Delight
Saturday, September 27 (10 am-2 pm)
Leader  Cris Fleming
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Soldiers Delight is a large serpentine barren in southern Baltimore County that is preserved as a Natural Environment Area by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Only certain plants can survive in the rocky, dry, nutrient-poor soil and many species occurring there are rare in Maryland. Join botanist Cris Fleming to explore this unusual environment. We’ll look for rare species such as sandplain gerardia, fringed gentian, and blazing star, as well as more common plants such as New York aster, purple gerardia, and several species of prairie grasses.We’ll be walking on natural surface trails with some uphill and downhill. Register online.

220px-Falco peregrinusOn the Move at Cape May FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Monday, September 29 (9 am) to
Tuesday, September 30 (4 pm)
Leader  Mark Garland
Members $96; nonmembers $140
Cape May, at New Jersey’s southern tip, is known around the world as a great concentration point for southbound migrants. Staggering numbers of birds pass through Cape May when the winds come from the northwest after an autumn cold front. A great mix of habitats means there’s always lots to see here, even when the winds don’t bring the big migratory push. Late September is a peak time for migrating falcons, accipiters, warblers, and monarch butterflies. We plan to visit Cape May Point State Park, the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area, and other natural areas around Cape May. Overnight options include a variety of motels, hotels, B&Bs, and campgrounds in or near Cape May. Register online.


TableMtnPineSugarloaf Mountain Autumn Hike
Saturday, October 4 (10 am-3 pm)
Leaders  Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Tina Thieme Brown
Members $30; nonmembers $42
The author and the illustrator of two books about Sugarloaf Mountain team up once again for a seasonal nature hike up to the summit of our local monadnock. We’ll search for maturing fruits on oaks, hickories, black birch, witch-hazel and many other woody plants, and enjoy the first blush of color in the tupelo trees. Several species of wildflowers in the aster and mint families should be blooming. On or near the mountain summit, we’ll see many plants in the health family, as well as the uncommon table mountain pine. We will hike for 1 ½-2 miles at a slow pace, covering some steep and rocky sections of trail. Tina will give a field drawing demonstration and Melanie will describe the history and geology of Sugarloaf. Register online.

Fall Flora Hike at Gunpowder Falls State Park
Sunday, October 5 (10 am-3:30 pm)
Leader  Dwight Johnson
Members $30; nonmembers $42
Our leader describes the Hereford Area of Gunpowder Falls SP in Central Baltimore County as “the best walk in the Maryland piedmont.” Join him on this 3-mile hike through rich upland and bottomland woods where we’ll make frequent stops to ID and admire trees and shrubs, ferns, fall fruits, and late-blooming wildflowers. The circuit hike will include a couple of steep hills and a rock scramble. Register online.

Introduction to Tree Identification
Friday, October 10 (9 am-3 pm)
Leader  Cris Fleming
Members $30; nonmembers $42
Fall is a great time to learn to identify our local trees and shrubs. With brilliant leaves highlighting the twigs, new buds already formed, and many fruits hanging on, there are lots of distinguishing features that help sort out the various species. This all-day program at our Woodend Sanctuary will begin indoors with a look at some techniques of tree identification. coupled with  practice using a simple key. We’ll then move outdoors to use our new skills to identify many of the trees growing on the grounds. Both beginners and those who want to brush up on their ID skills are welcome. Register online.

Window into the World of Fungi
Thursday, October 16 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Saturday, October 18 (9 am-1 pm)
Leader  Tovi Lehmann
Members $42; nonmembers $58
Lecture only $20/$28
Rooted, yet not plants, heterotrophs, but not animals (growing in fairy rings, yet not even fairies), fungi are members of another kingdom. Mostly hidden under the surface, fungi have evolved their own solutions to life’s persistent problems. Gaining the recognition for their pivotal role in shaping the living world, they now reshape fundamental perceptions of biologists. In this workshop, we will explore the natural history and ecology of our local fungal neighbors, rather than focus on the edibility of particular species of mushrooms. Our field trip will visit a close-in natural area chosen by the leader, based on his scouting closer to the program. Register online.

dc blueplainsTour the Blue Plains Plant  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Thursday, October 16 (10 am-Noon)
Leader  Neal Fitzpatrick
Free, but registration is required.
Join former ANS Executive Director Neal Fitzpatrick, and staff from D.C. Water for a tour of the largest wastewater treatment plant in the world. This plant has the capacity to treat 370 million gallons of sewage a day; the treated water is discharged into the Potomac River just north of Alexandria, VA Learn about the 20-year capital improvement program worth $7.8 billion at the facility. Limited to 13 participants. Registration deadline: October 2. Register online.

The Natural and Cultural History of the Ag Reserve
Friday, October 17 (10 am-3:30 pm)
Leaders  Melanie Choukas-Bradley & Stephanie Mason
Members $30; nonmembers $42
Thirty-four years ago, with regional farmland rapidly diminishing, Montgomery County had the foresight to set aside more than 90,000 acres of farms and open space in the western and northern third of the county as an “Agricultural Reserve.” Come explore this scenic, biologically diverse area and learn how it contributes to clean air and water, the availability of fresh local produce, and the overall quality of life for residents of the metro area. Our trip will visit a working CSA farm, a fall produce and pumpkin stand, an historical site, and an artist’s studio, time permitting, to experience the rich diversity of plants and wildlife (and human livelihoods) that thrive in the Reserve’s fields, meadows, wetlands, and rocky woodlands. We’ll begin and end the tour in some of the beautiful parkland along its borders: Seneca Creek State Park and Dickerson Conservation Park, site of an American sycamore, officially the largest known tree in MD. Register online.

Fall Migration at Cape May  FULL
Saturday, October 18 (8 am) to Sunday, October 19 (4 pm)
Leader  Mark Garland
Members $96; nonmembers $140
Cape May is an astounding place to witness autumn migration. Under the right weather conditions, a single day can bring several thousand southbound hawks, tens of thousands of migrating songbirds, and over 100,000 monarch butterflies onto the southern tip of New Jersey. Late October is a peak time for migrating buteos, sparrows, and coastal waterbirds, such as scoters, loons, and cormorants. We’ll visit many of the diverse natural areas around Cape May and celebrate the rich spectacle of migration. Overnight options include motels, B&Bs, and campgrounds in and around Cape May. Register online.

Raptor ID and Natural History
Tuesday, October 21 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Saturday, October 25 (full-day field trip)
Leader  Paul Engman
Members $46; nonmembers $64
Lecture only $20/$28
Hawks, falcons, eagles, and their allies share similar characteristics, but each has a unique life history. Many are migratory, and fall brings thousands of migrating raptors to the Appalachian ridges and Atlantic coast. Thursday’s slide lecture focuses on the natural history and identification of eastern raptors. Our field trip goes to one of the premier hawk-watching sites in the area, Waggoner’s Gap in PA, about a 2.5-hour drive from D.C. This rockpile lookout has a reputation for affording hawk watchers a look at less common migrants, such as golden eagles and goshawks. Register online.

120px-tuliptreeleavesBotanical Gems in Montgomery County: Gold Mine Tract of Great Falls Park
Saturday, October 25 (9 am-12:30 pm)
Leader  Carole Bergmann
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Celebrate autumn with a hike through the first forest in Maryland to be inducted into the Old Growth Forest Network. The 528-acre Gold Mine Tract is one of the largest contiguous Piedmont forests in Maryland. While most visitors to the Great Falls area of the C&O Canal NHP head directly to the falls and river, we will hike uphill, away from the Potomac. Following the Gold Mine Loop Trail, the county’s forest ecologist will guide us into a quiet, cathedral-like forest dominated by towering tulip trees and huge old hardwoods. We’ll plan to hike for about 3 miles. Our route will include areas with remarkable scenic overlooks of Bear Island, Olmstead Island, and the Potomac River.  Though the majority of this natural surface hike is over gently rolling territory, there will be some does uphill/downhill. Register online.

A Year at Boundary Bridge
Saturdays (9 am-2 pm)
Section D: October 25
Section A: February 22
Section B: April 5
Section C: June 28
Leader Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Each walk members $30; nonmembers $42
Join the author of City of Trees for our eighth year of hikes in one of Washington, D.C.’s most beautiful wild areas. Starting at Boundary Bridge and following the same 2.5-mile loop trail each season, we’ll explore the large trees, diverse shrubs, and exceptional wildflowers along a scenic stretch of Rock Creek. We’ll also see and hear many species of birds, butterflies, and amphibians. On our winter walk, an ideal time to admire the Park’s topography, we’ll look and listen for winter flocks and identify many species of woody plants. In April, we’ll witness the spring magic of Rock Creek’s myriad wildflowers. As summer arrives in the Park, we’ll hope for a glimpse of a kingfisher as we look for ferns and early seasonal wildflowers such as enchanter’s nightshade. Autumn is glorious in Rock Creek Park, and we’ll conclude our series with a walk through colorful oaks, maples, and ashes, searching for the flowers of an early witch hazel in bloom. Our hike will be on trails with moderate uphill and downhill walking. An ANS/Rock Creek Conservancy Partnership. Registration required, please use registration form.

Fall Tree ID for Birders
Sunday, October 26 (2-4 pm)
Leader  Stephanie Mason
Free, but registration required.
With trees ablaze in fall colors and their fruits hanging high, we’ll learn the identifying characteristics visible through binoculars of the most common species of trees and shrubs along the C&O Canal towpath upstream of Carderock. Register online.


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