Natural History Classes

Adult Programs

The Highlands Center offers programs and events for community members throughout the year on and offsite regarding the natural history of the Southwest. Some examples are our Community Nature Study Series, HCNH Book Club, and Happy Hours. For our full list of upcoming events, please view our calendar.

Fall Community Nature Study Series

These classes are presented on select Tuesday Mornings in September and October from 9 am- 12 pm. They take place in the Kieckhefer Classroom, subject to be moved outside in our Ramada.

$30 for members, $35 for nonmembers per class

Color of Birds: The Physics Behind Different Feather Colors

Many birds are often sought out by birders for their beautiful feathers. Ryder Moreno, a recent Embry Riddle Graduate and Highlands Center Intern, will discuss the various ways that birds achieve the color patterns present on their feathers, and the physics involved in these processes. The coloration of birds’ feathers is one of their most stunning and recognizable features, from the vibrant reds and yellows of the Western Tanager to the deep blues and blacks of the Steller’s Jay. In this presentation, you will learn about the different methods of coloration in birds, including chemical and structural coloration, and the combination of both. This will include a lecture with specimens to look at, as well as a bird walk to see some of the species discussed in the presentation as well as give some birding tips to amateur birders.

Tuesday, October 5th

Precious Waters—Seeps, Springs, and Canyon Streams of Our Region: Where does our water come from and where is it going?

Water in the desert is nothing short of miraculous. Although our region is famous in large part for its aridity, water has shaped and continues to shape this landscape in both visible and invisible ways. From tiny seeps to thundering cataracts, we will look at the role water plays in the region—where our water comes from, how it helps define this region and its ecosystems and create a landscape like no other—and the role this water plays in the strange world of Colorado River Basin water policy. As a rafting guide on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and elsewhere in the region, Christa Sadler has called the waters of the Colorado River Basin home for more than three decades.

Tuesday, October 19th

Happy Hour with Fungi-licious! Mushroom Farm

Cultivating and Growing Culinary Mushrooms for the Health of the Earth and Her Inhabitants.

Fungi-licious! aka AZ Mushroom Farm is a culinary mushroom cultivation laboratory and farm in Chino Valley, AZ. Fungi-licious! cultivates and grows fresh mushrooms for chefs and families using steam – not chemicals- and supplies mushroom mycelium to help repair toxic soil and water. Lead by Kathryn Crew, the owner of Fungi-licious! and the mushroom cultivator, attendees will learn the purpose of fungi, the connection of fungi to all living things, nature’s lifecycle of mushrooms and how mushroom farmers mimic nature followed by mushroom tasting and building a “Grow your own mushrooms” kit.

$40 for members, $45 for nonmembers

The ticket price includes refreshments, mushroom tasting, and grow your own mushroom kit.

Thursday, October 7th, 5 – 7 pm

Highlands Center Book Club

In partnership with Peregrine Book Company, the Highlands Center for Natural History launched a book club. This book club is for adults eager to learn more about the natural history of the Southwest and connect with others who are as well. The book for summer is Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  Join the book club meetings on Friday October 1st and Friday November 5th from 11-12pm for discussions of the book outside in the Highlands Center Discovery Gardens.  Click the blue title to learn more about the book and purchase it. 


White-nose Syndrome in Southwest Bat Populations

with Jeff Foster

October 25th from 7 pm-8:30 pm

FREE on Zoom

Jeff Foster is an Associate Professor at the Pathogen and Microbiome Institute at Northern Arizona University. He works on pathogen genomics and disease ecology, including work on White-Nose Syndrome in bats for over a decade. As part of this work, his team has extensively sampled bats in the West (including Arizona, California, and New Mexico) looking for infection by the White-Nose Syndrome fungus. His talk will be on the background of the disease, its recent spread into the western US, and its effects on bat populations. See more of his work on his lab website:

City of Prescott Water Smart


Workshops at the Highlands Center has included wreath making and a 3 day program called “Sense of Place” workshop where participants learned more about the natural world we live with. 

Happy Hour

Happy Hours at the Highlands Center are classes that include a tasting with a presentation. Some examples of past Happy Hours are mushroom, chocolate, and cider tastings. 

Trips and Tours

Trips and Tours with the Highlands Center are typically day long adventures with an experienced guide. Trips have been offered as far as Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Art Classes

Art Classes with the Highlands Center include our Colored Pencil Drawing Series taught by Diane Iverson. It is offered as a 6 class series and will be returning in Spring 2021.

Natural History Classes

Natural History Classes at the Highlands Center are taught by professionals in their fields. These are offered throughout most of the year.

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