Natural History Classes

Ever wonder about our local Natural History? Come explore with us and see what you can discover. Our classes explore different aspects of our local flora, fauna and geology, and are designed to be interactive and experiential.

2017 Community Nature Series

All Classes are full. Call us at for wait lists or for more information on future class offerings.


Tuesdays and Thursdays
January 24th through February 16th | 9:00am – 12:30pm


The Highlands Center
*Registration required

Class Descriptions

Central Arizona Standouts in the Insect Class

January 24 | Phil McNally, Consulting Entomologist, Prescott College
Join Phil for an insightful presentation that will include local insect diversity, their importance, and common orders through presentation. Through hands-on investigation the class will also look at common insects found in the Highlands and learn key identifying characteristics.

Epizootics: A look at insects and other organisms that affect forest health

January 26 | Lisa Zander, Program Coordinator and Collections Manager at the Natural History Institute
The natural history of insects that kill or harm trees and shrubs in our forests is a fascinating and complicated topic, especially as changing climate has been seen to alter their “natural” patterns. We will explore and become familiar with common insects and fungal pathogens in the Prescott area through a slideshow presentation, and by examining them in the field and under microscopes. This knowledge will empower you to educate the public on your walks, and help you to report your observations to the Prescott National Forest and other land managers.

The Wildlife of Wildflowers

January 31 | Sue Smith, Native Plant Society President
Delve into the wild life of some common flowers often seen along trails or even your sidewalk! The presentation will also include the tips, tools, and techniques for identification and recognizing plant families

Plant communities of Arizona’s Central Highlands: A true transitional zone in time and space

February 2 | Joe Trudeau, Conservation Ecologist, Hassayampa Forestry & Ecological (
In this discussion we’ll review the primary plant communities and important species that define the Highlands region, and contrast them to the neighboring Colorado Plateau and Sonoran Desert ecoregions. Understanding these communities – from the broad scale of ecoregions to well-defined ecological systems – we’ll look at factors which influence the shaping of these communities over time, especially the past 150 years of Anglo settlement. Considering the effects of human use of the land, we’ll explore some possible evolutions of our landscape over the next century and beyond.

Prehistoric Archaeology Laboratory

February 7 | Sarah Luchetta, M.A., Archaeologist
Join Ms. Luchetta for a hands-on archaeology laboratory where you will analyze and identify various local ceramic artifacts and lithic tools. Learn how to classify them by age and culture and create your own guide to our state’s prehistory.

Winter Birds of the Prescott Area

February 9 | Felipe Guerrero, Highlands Center for Natural History, Education Coordinator
Did you know the birds of the Prescott area change throughout the year? Perhaps you’re familiar with the phenomenon of migration – seasonal movement in relation to resources – and the habit of many different kinds of birds to move south in winter. However, have you ever stopped to consider the birds find Prescott an inviting place to spend the winter? Become formally acquainted with the winter birds of the Prescott region and beyond.

Common Mushrooms of the Arizona Central Highlands

February 14 | Bob Gessner, Mycologist
Fungi are second only to insects as far as the number of species found in Arizona. About a third of these fungal species are macrofungi commonly called mushrooms. Because of the unpredictable and ephemeral occurrence of their fruiting bodies most naturalists are relatively unfamiliar with mushrooms compared to plants and animals. This presentation will enable you to learn the most common mushrooms found locally and understand their life histories and ecological importance.

Medicine Plants of Arizona

February 16 | Diane Vaszily, 30 years as an environmental educator and 23 years in herbalism
Diane is involved with desert awareness committee to educate others about the nature of the desert areas. Join Diane once more for a hands-on workshop on medicinal plants. This spring Diane will expand her talk to include medicinal plants that occur throughout the state of Arizona; used in past and present day. Each participant will be taking home a sample made in class.

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