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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.


WinterCertificate Program/Required Courses | Registration | Instructor Bios

Fulfill Your Dream — Become a Naturalist!

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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.


 

Winter Courses 2017 - The Graduate School's winter NHFS classes are now open for registration!

January - March 2017

Winter Woody Plant Identification                                          
NATH7146E, 3 CEUs                                              
Class night and time: Mondays, 6-8:15 pm
Class meetings: January 9-March 20, 2017
Field Trip dates: January 21, February 4, and February 25
Location: Capital Gallery, Washington DC (L’Enfant Metro)
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Emily Ferguson
Register online
Winter unmasks nature, revealing our local woody plants in their most skeletal form.  Students will learn to identify trees and shrubs by studying the “bare bones” of plants – branching structure, bark, buds, and leaf scars.  Classroom lessons and three mandatory field trips will help students develop observational skills and use clues such as persistent and fallen fruits and leaves, aromatic twigs, and habitat to identify trees in the winter landscape. You must be able to attend all three field trips to successfully complete the class. If minimum student enrollment is not reached by one week before the scheduled start date, the course may be cancelled.

Required reading:

  1. Grimm, William C. The Illustrated Book of Trees. Rev. ed. (by Kartesz, John). Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002.
  2. Harlow, William M. Fruit Key & Twig Key to Trees & Shrubs. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1959.
  3. Watts, May T. and T. Watts. Winter Tree Finder. Rochester, NY: Nature Study Guild Publishers, 1970.
  4. Wojtech, Michael. Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2011.
  5. Common Native Trees of Virginia, 2012 edition (download from http://www.dof.virginia.gov/infopubs/Native-Trees-spreads-2012-05_pub.pdf)

 

Understanding Evolutiondarwin
NATH8201E, 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
Register online
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 cancelled.

Required reading:  The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. The Modern Library edition has a nice intro.

PollutionHuman Ecology
NATH8280E, 3 CEUs
Class day and time: Wednesdays, 7-9 p.m.
Class duration: January 18–March 22, 2017
Field trip dates: February 18 and March 18
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Gogi Kalka
Register online
Although existing in habitats of their own design, humans cannot escape the biological and physical constraints on energy use, food production, population growth and interactions with other species. Applying ecological principles, students will examine our role in pressing environmental problems such as global climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation and learn to critically evaluate possible solutions. We will explore renewable energies, sustainable food systems and other inspiring global and local sustainability initiatives. 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 cancelled.

Required reading: Environmental Science: Toward a Sustainable Future, by Richard Wright and Dorothy Boorse. The 12th Edition (not the most recent!) is preferred and is readily available.   ISBN-13: 978-0321811530, ISBN-10: 0321811534.

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: February 4 and March 4
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, MD
Tuition: $365
Instructor: Katherine Nelson
Register online
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 cancelled.

Required reading: Planning in the USA: Policies, Issues and Processes by J. Barry Cullingworth, Roger Caves. FOURTH edition, please.

MDGeoRegGeology
NATH1125E, 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
Register online
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 cancelled.

Required reading: 

  1. Essentials of Geology by Frederick K. Lutgens, Edward J. Tarbuck, and Dennis Tasa, Prentice Hall, ISBN 978-0321957801 (12th edition, Books a la Carte).
  2. Roadside Geology of Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C., by John Means, ISBN 978-0878425709, Wild Horizons Publishing. 

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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