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.

Community Nature Summer Series

These classes are presented on select Tuesday evenings in June and July from 5 pm-7 pm. They take place outside in our ramada located in the James Family Discovery Gardens.

$18 for members, $20 for nonmembers

What is a Lichen?

What is a lichen? Garry Neil, a volunteer with the Red Rock Ranger District and the ASU Lichenology Lichen Herbarium, wants to share what lichen is all about. His work with the Coconino National Forest has resulted in the discovery of a number of lichen species that have never been observed and documented in this area. This two-hour class will be spent mostly on our trails and in our gardens practicing lichen identification with supplied hand lenses and Garry’s expertise to help you along the way. “Lichens are generally ignored by the public, with greater interest focused on flowering plants and trees.  However, I believe that once you start to focus on lichens many will find that they are fascinating organisms.” Come learn for yourself what lichen is and why it is fascinating, as well as how to identify different species.

Tuesday, June 8th from 5 pm- 7 pm

The Flower Clock—What Wild Plants Tell Us About Time

In blossoming, wild plants reveal the true nature of the seasons in all their manifestations: long days or darkness, dry or rainy, warm or cool, buzzing with insects, or dormant. Each knows not only the season of year, but also the hour of the day or night. Through them, we humans can learn a different way of experiencing time that helps us to bloom as well. Susan Lamb, past Desert View District Ranger-Naturalist at Grand Canyon National Park and current author of over 24 books, looks forward to sharing her observations and research for her work in progress, an illustrated book called—what else? The Flower Clock: What Wild Plants Tell Us About Time. She’ll begin the class with an illustrated presentation exploring how plants determine when to bloom, followed by a visit to a number of flowering plants in the gardens to learn about their particular reasons to tell time. We’ll also have a chance to use our imaginations in perceiving the world from a plant’s point of view! 

Tuesday, June 22nd from 5 pm- 7 pm

Owls of Yavapai County

George Carpenter, a raptor biologist who presented on hawks and falcons in Fall, is returning this summer to talk about owls in Yavapai County. We will address the natural history of owls that may be seen in and around Yavapai County and focus on the way these engaging birds are physically and behaviorally adapted to their environment. The evening will include a lecture, a hands-on activity, and discussion. George has learned about birds of prey from experiences in raptor field and lab research, captive propagation and reintroduction, rehabilitation, and conservation education in California, Idaho, and Arizona. He earned a master’s degree in raptor biology and teaches biology at Yavapai College. This class will be a real hoot.

Tuesday, July 13th from 5 pm- 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 Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History by Dan Flores. Peregrine Book Company is offering this book for purchase with a 10% discount for Highlands Center Book Club participants. Join the book club meetings on Friday June 4th and Friday July 2nd from 11-12pm for discussions of the book outside in the Highlands Center Discovery Gardens.  Due to COVID-19 all education programming will be outside. Prepare to be comfortable outside, expect to practice physical distancing, and masks are required. Meetings are free but pre-registration is required. Click the blue title to learn more about the book and purchase it. Use the code NATUREEDU for the discount when purchasing online.

Playing Our Cards Right for a Thriving Arctic

with Dr. Stephanie Pfirman

By 2040 much of the sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean is likely to be gone in summer.  What will this mean for the people and animals that live in the Arctic?  What can we do to minimize sea ice loss as well as adapt to changes in the circum-polar Arctic?  Through this interactive presentation, Dr. Stephanie Pfirman, Foundation Professor with the School of Sustainability, Arizona State University and Senior Sustainability Scientist with Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, will share what it will take to manage the transition to a thriving Arctic future. Professor Pfirman’s research focuses on understanding and responding to the changing Arctic, developing innovative approaches to formal and informal education, and exploring the intersection between diversity and interdisciplinarity. Prepare for this class by playing EcoChains: Arctic Futures (

Attend this free presentation through zoom June 29th from 7 pm-8:30 pm. Registration is required. 

City of Prescott Water Smart
City of Prescott Water Smart

A Festival of Music, Arts, and Science

presented by The Highlands Center and The Folk Sessions.
Co-sponsored by PAAHC
Sun, June 13, 3-6 pm
MEMBERS: $15 General: $20

The Magical Elixir for Your Summertime Blues

presented by The Highlands Center and The Folk Sessions.
Co-sponsored by PAAHC
Sun, July 18, 3-6 pm
MEMBERS: $15 General: $20


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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