2020-2021 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. Depending on COVID-19 protocols, a face covering may be required when unable to maintain recommended physical distancing during class.

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

Becoming a Naturalist?
Session A: Thursday Aug. 20, 2020; 1 p.m. Margie Hunter (Bring a Snack) 
Session B: Saturday Aug. 22, 2020; 9 a.m. Margie Hunter (Bring a Lunch)
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, and Pests
Session A: Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020; 1 p.m.  Dr.  Kaushalya Amarasekare, TN State University (Bring a Snack)
Session B: Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020; 9 a.m.  Dr. Steve Murphree, Belmont University (Bring a Lunch)
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
Feathered Fauna: The Birds of Tennessee - Both Sessions 7:30 am - Noon
Session A: Thursday Oct. 22, 2020; 7:30 am  David Hanni, TN Wildlife Resources Agency (Bring a Snack)
Session B: Saturday Oct. 24, 2020; 7:30 am  David Hanni, TN Wildlife Resources Agency  (Bring a Snack)
Polly Rooker, TN Wildlife Resources Agency (retired) will join each class for the field portion.
Class Outline:
  • Overview of birds in Tennessee
  • Migration and flyways
  • Permanent residents, winter residents, summer residents, transients
  • Bird identification by sight and sound
The Ecology and Geology of Tennessee
Session A: Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020; 1 p.m. John Bowers, Environmental Geologist (retired) (Bring a Snack)
Session B: Saturday Nov. 14, 2020; 9 a.m. Margie Hunter (Bring a Lunch)
Class Outline:
  • Overview of ecology and ecological systems
  • Physiographic regions of Tennessee
  • Geology and soils of Tennessee
  • Weather and Climate of Tennessee


Tennessee Mammals: Creatures of Habitat
Session A: Thursday Jan. 14, 2021; 1 p.m. David Coats (Bring a Snack)
Session B: Saturday Jan. 16, 2021; 9 a.m. David Coats (Bring a Lunch)
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 - Both Sessions 1 - 5:30 pm
Session A: Thursday Feb. 25, 2021;  1 p.m. Pandy Upchurch, TN Wildlife Resources Agency (Bring a Snack)
                                                                        Robert English, LEAPS
Session B: Saturday Feb. 27, 2021;  1 p.m. Pandy Upchurch, TN Wildlife Resources Agency (Bring a Lunch)
                                                                       Robert English, LEAPS
Class Outline:
  • Overview of Tennessee reptiles
  • Overview of Tennessee amphibians
  • Life cycles, habitats, ecology
  • Conservation issues
Trail Building (Bonus Class)

Saturday, Mar. 13, 2021; 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.; Michael Meister, TN State Parks

Bring work gloves, lunch and refillable water bottle.
Forests and Trees of Tennessee
Session A: Thursday, Mar. 25, 2021; 1 p.m. Dave Walters, TN Divsion of Forestry (retired)  (Bring a Snack)
Session B: Saturday Mar. 27, 2021; 9 a.m. Dr. Cindi Smith-Walters, MTSU Center for Environmental Education (Bring a Lunch)
Class Outline:
  • Characterization of Tennessee Forests
  • History of our forests
  • How trees grow
  • Twigs & bark as a way to identify trees
Forbs, Ferns, Mosses and More: Herbaceous Plants and Fungi of Tennessee
Session A: Thursday, Apr. 15, 2021; 1 p.m. Margie Hunter, Author (Bring a Snack)
Session B: Saturday, Apr. 10, 2021; 9 a.m. Margie Hunter, Author (Bring a Lunch)
Class Outline:
  • Overview of herbaceous plants, identification and keying
  • Overview of non-vascular
  • Overview of fungi
Nocturnal Naturalist - Both Sessions 4 pm - 8 pm
Session A: Thursday, May 6, 2021; 4 p.m. Ranger Leslie Anne Rawlings, Long Hunter Statte Park  (Pack Dinner) 
Session B: Saturday May 8, 2021; 4 p.m. Ranger Leslie Anne Rawlings, Long Hunter State Park (Pack Dinner)
Class Outline:
  • Overview of astronomy
  • Identification of common constellations
  • Night Wildlife
Tennessee's Living Waters
Session A: Thursday May 20, 2021; 1 p.m. Catherine Price, Cumberland River Compact (Bring a Lunch)
Session B: Saturday May 22, 2021; 9 a.m. Angel Fowler, Sr. Environmental Scientist, Blueway  (Bring a Snack)
Class Outline:
  • Watersheds of Tennessee
  • Rivers and streams
  • Wetlands
  • Water quality assessment
  • Aquatic flora and fauna