2023 List of Classes

Details will be confirmed by email approximately one week before each class starts.

Identifying Native Trees and Shrubs in Winter – Register here
Instructor: Danielle Bell
Format: In person
Date/Time:  Saturday, February 11th 9am-1:30pm (half hour lunch on your own)
Location: Mequon Nature Preserve
Elective (4 hours)
Description: At first glance, all trees can look the same in winter. However, if you look at them in detail you can identify a tree to species by examining the buds, bark, and site conditions. Each species has a unique bud that holds the future leaves and flowers that will emerge in the spring and they know the ideal time to emerge. First we will look at the anatomy of twigs and how buds can be used to identify woody species. Then we will go outside to look at plants in their environment to look at bark and overall structure of the plants.

Creating a Native Plant Oasis Design Plan – Register here
Instructor: Danielle Bell
Format: In person
Date/Time: Saturday, March 4th 9am-3:30pm (half hour lunch on your own)
Location: Mequon Nature Preserve
Elective (6 hours)
Description:  To combat the effects of climate change and pollinator decline, we need to incorporate native plants into our home and business landscapes. There is a wide palate of native plants that are capable of handling tough urban environments and provide essential ecological roles. This class will teach students how to understand microclimates of a site and how to properly select the correct native plants for those areas. We will learn which plants provide habitat requirements for specialist insects as well as those that fill large niches to benefit many species from insects to mammals. A portion of the class will be held outside for students to see structure of plants in their natural environment.

Establishing & Managing Native Plant Communities – Register here
Instructor: Randy Powers
Format: In person
Date/Time: Saturday, April 8th 9:00am-3:30pm
Location: UW Oshkosh Campus
Core Course (6 hours)
Description: The first half of this course will discuss the nine basic essentials to starting a native planting; including an understanding of native plants, how to determine habitat, site preparation, planting, and maintenance. The second half of the course outlines the basic concepts for identifying weed problems, prioritizing weed species and resolving weed issues in a new or existing prairie. Learn how to differentiate between a weedy plant species and an invasive plant species and how to determine the need to take immediate action for one weed problem over another. This course will also go over different methods for controlling weeds through mechanical, chemical and burn management options.

Wisconsin Native and Invasive Edible Plants – Register here
Instructor: David Langner
Format: In person, 3-part course
Dates/Times: Saturdays, May 6th, July 15th, and September 23rd 10am-12pm 2023 (you can register for each class separately on Eventbrite)
Location: Spring – 1000 Islands Environmental Center, Summer – Kaukauna (address coming soon), and fall location TBD
Elective (6 hours)
Description:  This 3 part course will teach you about edible plants that are native and invasive to Wisconsin. We will cover identification of these plants, including toxic plants that can be confused with these plants, where to find these plants, and many way that you can use these edible and otherwise useful plants.  

The Ultimate Butterfly Garden – Register here
Instructor: Randy Powers
Format: In person
Date/Time: Saturday, May 20th, 9am-1:30pm (please bring a packed lunch)
Location: Ledgeview Nature Center
Elective (4 hours)
We take a look at the most common butterflies found in the upper Midwest, their native host plants, and nectar plants that they use. How native wildflowers and plants can be used in a garden setting, not just for adult butterflies nectaring in your backyards for brief fleeting moments, but also incorporating host plants for mating adults to carry out their life cycle. A compendium of our most common butterflies visiting our gardens here in the upper Midwest.

Identifying Bugs in the Wild – Register here
Instructor: Dr. Paul Whitaker
Format: Blended 2-part course
Dates/Times: virtual Monday, June 26th 6:30-8:30 pm and in person Saturday, July 8th 12-4 pm
Location: UW Stevens Point, Schmeeckle Reserve
Elective (6 hours)
Description: The virtual sessions will cover basic entomology content, including insect body structure, life stages, life cycles, and ecology; an overview of the diversity of insects associated with land plants and introduce the insect (or photograph) collection project. Ideally, participants will spend some time between the virtual session and the in-person session to begin working on a collection.  This in person session will include demonstrations of and practice using techniques in collecting, rearing, and identifying insects. It is hoped that participants will feel better equipped to identify insects associated with plants and to understand plant-insect interactions. Weather permitting, the class will end with an insect walk in Schmeeckle Reserve on the UWSP campus.

Nature Teaching Strategies for all Ages – Register here Registration closes June 24th.
Instructor: Shannon Davis-Foust
Date/Time: 12 pm Thursday, July 13th to 12 pm Sunday, July 16th
Location: Lowenwood, Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin
Elective (6 hrs)
Special fee: $300 nonmembers/$255 members (includes lodging and meals)
You don’t need to be an expert to teach nature!  This class will cover environmental literacy and sustainability teaching methods using Wisconsin’s native ecosystems to develop a sense of place, basic science inquiry skills, and a foundation for stewardship practices.  Using environmental education strategies from a variety of sources, we will be actively playing games, observing, discussing conservation ethics, exploring, drawing, nature journaling and of course relaxing.  Activities can be scaled up or down to grade level and even suit college level.  You will receive a Project WILD book and be certified in Project WILD upon completion of this course. Email [email protected] for more information.

Pollinators after Dark – Registration coming soon
Instructor: Jeffery Steele
Format: In person
Date/Time: Saturday, July 29th from 6:30pm-10:30pm
Location: Cherokee Marsh-North Unit
Elective (4 hours)
Description: Celebrate the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths on this class through Cherokee Marsh, Dane County’s largest wetland. Learn about about our native flowers that bloom at night and the insects that pollinate them as well as tips for creating your own native “moth garden.” Afterwards, we will walk through prairies, woodlands, and sedge meadows to ultraviolet light stations and discover the hidden biodiversity of night-flying pollinators!

Native Plant Ecology and Identification – Registration coming soon
Instructor: Dr. Paul Whitaker
Format: Blended 2-part class
Dates/Times:  virtual Monday Aug 14th 6:30-8:30 pm and in person Saturday Aug 19th 12-4 pm
Location: UW Stevens Point
Core Course (6 hours)
Description:  This course provides a brief overview of ecosystem ecology, botany and plant physiology as it relates to native plants.  Plant ecology will cover the definition of native, interdependence within native ecosystems, and formation of specialized ecosystems.  Plant identification will emphasize observations of patterns for identification of Wisconsin native plants including annuals, perennials, vines, shrubs, deciduous and evergreen trees.  Recommended book: Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification by Thomas J. Elpel.

Exploring the Fungal World – Registration coming soon
Instructor: Dr. Jim Perry
Format: In person
Date/Time:  Saturday, Sept 30th, 10am-3pm (1 hour lunch – bring your own)
Location: UWO – Fox Cities Campus
Elective (4 hours)
The diversity and beauty of fungi are astounding, with some forms obvious to the casual observer and others not. Likely the single largest living organism alive today is a fungus. Come explore and marvel at a few of the 1.5 million species that occupy the mycological fancy. This mind’s-on, hand’s-on short course is designed to acquaint you with this diversity and provide an appreciation of the critical ecological role fungi play in the native plant community. You’ll gain insight into the hidden world of mycorrhizae, the threads that serve as critical nutritional conduits and communication pathways between plants. When we’re finished, your walks in the wood and fields will have a whole new perspective.

A Look at Native Plant Form and Function – Registration coming soon
Instructor: Dr. Paul Whitaker
Format: Blended, 3-part class
Dates/Times: Virtual Monday Sept 11 7-8 pm, virtual Monday 18 7-8 pm, and in person Saturday September 23 12-4pm (half hour lunch on your own)
Location: UWSP
Core Course (6 hours)
Description:  This course will provide you with an understanding of the fundamentals of botany: basic structure of a plant; how woody and herbaceous plants differ from each other; how and why plants are the foundations of food webs; plant adaptations to different environments; and the diverse ways in which plants achieve reproduction, including often by employing animal assistants.

The Prairie in Seed Registration coming soon
Instructor: Jeffery Steele
Format: In person
Date/Time: Sunday, October 1, 10am-3:30pm (half hour lunch on your own)
Location: Pope Farm Conservancy in Middleton, WI
Elective (5 hours)
Description:  The fall is great time to experience the prairie in its final beauty. This course will serve as an introduction to identifying seed-bearing prairie plants. Students will tour a restored prairie and learn techniques to collect and store seeds from various species. Those that attend will also learn from a restoration expert how to break native seed dormancy and grow their own native plants. Students will then have the opportunity to take home their own “mini-greenhouses” of native seeds they collected to include in their home landscaping.

Terrestrial Invasive Species Management – Registration coming soon
Instructor: Emma Neuman
Format: In person
Date/Time: Saturday, Oct 21, 9am-4pm (1 hour lunch on your own)
Location: Heckrodt Wetland Reserve
Elective (6 hours)
Description: Introduction to terrestrial invasive species, including what they are, how they affect the environment, how they are spread, and understanding WI NR 40 rule. We would then learn common invasive species of Wisconsin followed by a hike around Heckrodt to see a handful of invasive species as well as see if students can point some out. Then a combination of inside and outside learning to understand most of the control methods that are possible and which is best for different situations. Returning to the classroom to go over what making a plan would look like. Finally, going outside to do some service learning and work on whatever seasonal species is available.

The Ultimate Hummingbird Garden – Registration coming soon
Instructor: Randy Powers
Format: In person
Date/Time: Saturday, November 11, 9am-12pm
Location: UW Oshkosh
Elective (3 hours)
Learn which wildflowers in Wisconsin co-evolved with the Ruby-throated and other hummingbirds by accommodating their feeding behavior. Learn about who some of the hummingbirds’ most unusual predators are and migratory challenges that these small birds face. We will discuss how to develop your yard so that visiting hummingbirds will nest here while raising their young.

Wisconsin Forests – Registration coming soon
Instructor: Frank Kirschling
Date/Time: Saturday, December 2, 2023 9am-2:30pm (1/2 hour lunch) location Ledgeview Nature Center
Elective (5 hours)
Description: This course will cover the identification of most native tree species found throughout Wisconsin. We will discuss different forest types in Wisconsin with their representative tree, shrub and herbaceous species. Basic forestry concepts will be covered and will include restoration ideas for different forest types in Wisconsin. Weather permitting, this course will include field activities.

About our Instructors

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Past Courses:

Identifying Bugs in the Wild
Instructor: Dr. Paul Whitaker
Format: blended
Dates/Times: virtual Monday June 20 7-8 pm; virtual Monday June 27 7-8 pm; in person Saturday July 9 12-4 pm
Location: Wausau, Monk Botanical Gardens & UWSP-Wausau
Elective (6 hours)
Description: The first virtual session will cover basic entomology content, including insect body structure, life stages, life cycles, and ecology. The second virtual session will provide an overview of the diversity of insects associated with land plants and introduce the insect (or photograph) collection project. Ideally, participants will spend some time between the second virtual session and the in-person session to begin working on a collection. The course will conclude with a four-hour in-person session In Wausau at the Monk Botanical Gardens and possibly UWSP-Wausau. This session will include demonstrations of and practice using techniques in collecting, rearing, and identifying insects. It is hoped that participants will feel better equipped to identify insects associated with plants and to understand plant-insect interactions.

Terrestrial Invasive Species Management
Instructor: Emma Neuman
Format: In person
Dates/Times: July 23 10am-2:30pm (half hour lunch on your own)
Location: Heckrodt Wetland Reserve
Elective (4 hours)
Description: Introduction to terrestrial invasive species, including what they are, how they affect the environment, how they are spread, and understanding WI NR 40 rule. We would then learn common invasive species of Wisconsin followed by a hike around Heckrodt to see a handful of invasive species as well as see if students can point some out. Then a combination of inside and outside learning to understand most of the control methods that are possible and which is best for different situations. Returning to the classroom to go over what making a plan would look like. Finally, going outside to do some service learning and work on whatever seasonal species is available.

Moths: The Unknown Pollinators
Instructor: Randy Powers
Format: In person
Dates/Times: July 30  9am-3:30pm (half hour lunch on your own)
Location: UW Oshkosh – Oshkosh Campus Sage 2215
Elective (6 hours)
Description: Moths are usually overlooked, misunderstood, and undervalued. This course will provide insight into the world of moths and their importance in both the animal kingdom and plant kingdom. Explore not only night moths, but also day moths through an examination of their life cycles, predators, habitats, plant uses and contribution as pollinators. Then, head out into the UWO native plantings in search of day moths and discuss important native plant species for planning a moth garden.

Protecting Our Waters
Instructor: Emily Henrigillis
Format: In person
Dates/Times: August 13 10am-2:30pm (half hour lunch on your own)
Location: UW Oshkosh – Oshkosh Campus Sage 2215
Elective (4 hours)
Description: This course will cover how runoff affects water quality, how adding buffers and raingardens can help, and go through the steps to design and build your own native garden for water.  We’ll visit a site and identify good plants for these plantings.

A Look at Native Plant Form and Function
Instructor: Dr. Paul Whitaker
Format: In person
Dates/Times: September 17th 9am-3:30pm (half hour lunch on your own)
Location: UW Oshkosh – Oshkosh Campus
Core Course (6 hours)
Description:  This course will provide you with an understanding of the fundamentals of botany: basic structure of a plant; how woody and herbaceous plants differ from each other; how and why plants are the foundations of food webs; plant adaptations to different environments; and the diverse ways in which plants achieve reproduction, including often by employing animal assistants.

Establishing & Managing Native Plant Communities
Instructor: Randy Powers
Format: In person
Dates/Times: November 12 9am-3:30pm (half hour lunch on your own)
Location: UW Oshkosh Campus
Core Course (6 hours)
Description: The first half of this course will discuss the nine basic essentials to starting a native planting; including an understanding of native plants, how to determine habitat, site preparation, planting, and maintenance. The second half of the course outlines the basic concepts for identifying weed problems, prioritizing weed species and resolving weed issues in a new or existing prairie. Learn how to differentiate between a weedy plant species and an invasive plant species and how to determine the need to take immediate action for one weed problem over another. This course will also go over different methods for controlling weeds through mechanical, chemical and burn management options.

Wisconsin Forests
Instructor: Frank Kirschling
Dates/Times:
December 3, 2022 10am-1:30pm (1/2 hour lunch) at UW-Oshkosh (classroom)
December 10, 10am-noon at High Cliff State Park (field)
(elective – 5 hours)
Description: This course will cover the identification of most tree species found throughout the Wisconsin. We will then discuss the different forest types in Wisconsin with their representative tree, shrub and herbaceous species. We will conclude the classroom session by discussing basic forestry concepts and ecology. The following week, we will tour a mature oak/maple forest. This course will provide a background for restoration ideas for different forest types in Wisconsin.

Native Plant Ecology and Identification

Instructor: Dr. Paul Whitaker
Format: Blended, 2-part course
Dates/Times: virtual Monday Jan 9 6-8 pm, in person January 14 9am-1:30pm (half hour lunch on your own)
Location: UW Oshkosh Campus
Core Course (6 hours)
Description:  This course provides a brief overview of ecosystem ecology, botany and plant physiology as it relates to native plants.  Plant ecology will cover the definition of native, interdependence within native ecosystems, and formation of specialized ecosystems.  Plant identification will emphasize observations of patterns for identification of Wisconsin native plants including annuals, perennials, vines, shrubs, deciduous and evergreen trees.  Recommended book: Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification by Thomas J. Elpel.