2019-2020 Information & Schedule

All class sessions are roughly 2 hours of instruction and 2 hours in the field. Breaks will be provided. You never know what you may find in the field so be prepared to stay for 5 hours.  Dress for the weather (unless under severe weather threat, sessions are rain or shine). Attire and footwear should both be appropriate for hiking and outdoor activities. Bring a refillable water bottle. Depending on the season, sunscreen, hat and bug spray also recommended. 

Please be aware that the fieldwork portion of the course can be physically demanding at times with hiking steep hills, rough terrain and night activities. 

Unless noted otherwise, Thursday sessions are 1 pm - 5:30 pm ; bring a snack. Saturday sessions are 9 am - 1:30 pm; bring a sack lunch. We are a carry-in/carry-out facility.

PDF of Class Schedule

So You Want to Be a Naturalist? Future Focus
Session A: Thursday Aug. 22, 2019; 1 p.m. Margie Hunter 
Session B: Saturday Aug. 24, 2019; 9 a.m. Margie Hunter
Class Outline:
  • Introduction to the Tennessee Naturalist program (What is a naturalist?)
  • History of important naturalists in Tennessee
  • Tools of a Naturalist, including outdoor clothing
  • Nature Journaling
The World of Invertebrates:  Pollinators, Predators, Pests and Parasitoids
Session A: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019; 1 p.m.  Dr.  Kaushalya Amarasekare (Bring a Lunch)
Session B: Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019; 9 a.m.  Dr. Steve Murphree (Bring a Snack)
Class Outline:
  • Characteristics and life cycles of insects
  • Identification of insects using keys
  • Overview of other arthropods (spiders, isopods, mites, etc.)
  • Methods of collecting and observing insects and other arthropods
  • Ecological roles of arthropods
The Ecology and Geology of Tennessee
Session A: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019; 1 p.m. TBD (Bring a Lunch)
Session B: Saturday Oct. 19, 2019; 9 a.m. Jerrod Manning (Bring a Snack)
Class Outline:
  • Overview of ecology and ecological systems
  • Physiographic regions of Tennessee
  • Geology and soils of Tennessee
  • Weather and Climate of Tennessee


Nocturnal Naturalist
Session A: Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019; 4 p.m. Ranger Leslie Anne Rawlings (Pack Dinner) 
Session B: Saturday Nov. 9, 2019; 4 p.m. Ranger Leslie Anne Rawlings (Pack Dinner)
Class Outline:
  • Overview of astronomy
  • Identification of common constellations
  • Night Wildlife
Tennessee Mammals: Creatures of Habitat
Session A: Thursday Jan. 16, 2020; 1 p.m. David Coats (Bring a Lunch)
Session B: Saturday Jan. 18, 2020; 9 a.m. David Coats (Bring a Snack)
Class Outline:
  • Overview of Tennessee Mammals
  • Characteristics of this class of animals
  • Different groups of mammals found in Tennessee
  • Behavior, physiology and ecology relating to habitat needs, environmental adaptations and ecosystem roles
Tennessee Reptiles and Amphibians: Scutes, Scales and Skin
Session A: Thursday Feb. 20, 2020;  1 p.m. Pandy Upchurch (Bring a Snack)
Session B: Saturday Feb. 22, 2020;  9 a.m. Pandy Upchurch (Bring a Lunch)
Class Outline:
  • Overview of Tennessee reptiles
  • Overview of Tennessee amphibians
  • Life cycles, habitats, ecology
  • Conservation issues
Trail Building (Bonus Class) **NEW**

Saturday, Mar. 14, 2020; 9 a.m. - 1:30; Michael Meister

Bring work gloves and refillable water bottle.
Forests and Trees of Tennessee
Session A: Thursday, Mar. 19, 2020; 1 p.m. Dave Walters (Bring a Snack)
Session B: Saturday Mar. 21, 2020; 9 a.m. Dr. Cindi Smith-Walters (Bring a Lunch)
Class Outline:
  • Characterization of Tennessee Forests
  • History of our forests
  • How trees grow
  • Twigs & bark as a way to identify trees
Feathered Fauna: The Birds of Tennessee
Session A: Thursday Apr. 16, 2020; 7:30 a.m - 11:30 a.m. Cyndi Routledge & Polly Rooker (Bring a Snack)
Session B: Saturday Apr. 18, 2020; 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Cyndi Routledge & Polly Rooker (Bring a Snack)
Class Outline:
  • Overview of birds in Tennessee
  • Migration and flyways
  • Permanent residents, winter residents, summer residents, transients
  • Bird identification by sight and sound
Forbs, Ferns, Fungi and More
Session A: Thursday, May 14, 2020; 1 p.m. Margie Hunter (Bring a snack)
Session B: Saturday, May 16, 2020; 9 a.m. Margie Hunter (Bring a lunch)
Class Outline:
  • Overview of herbaceous plants, identification and keying
  • Overview of non-vascular
  • Overview of fungi
Tennessee's Living Waters
Session A: Thursday May 28, 2019; 1 p.m. Angel Fowler (Bring a Lunch)
Session B: Saturday May 30, 2019; 9 a.m. Angel Fowler (Bring a Snack)
Class Outline:
  • Watersheds of Tennessee
  • Rivers and streams
  • Wetlands
  • Water quality Assessment
  • Aquatic flora and fauna