Adult Opportunities

ACCA: Woody Plants of the Great Lakes Region

Explore the ecology of trees, shrubs, and other woody plants found in the western Great Lakes region in this online and in person class for undergraduate learners.

Content Detail

Woody Plants of the Great Lakes Region is an introduction to the trees, shrubs, and other plants that make up the woody flora of the western Great Lakes region. In this course for upper division undergraduate students from the colleges and universities participating in the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area (ACCA) consortium, learn the identification and ecology of the plants you see most often in our woodlands and landscapes, including native plants, naturalized plants, and important woody landscape plants of the area.

This course will take place both online and in person. In-person experiences will include field trips to the grounds of the Arboretum to become familiar with field identification characteristics of trees and provide opportunities to apply learned taxonomic principles by examining fresh cut specimens and dried herbarium plant materials. Field trips to regional natural areas rich in woody plants will provide further opportunity to practice identification and to learn the habitat preferences of plants studied.

The course will include hiking, both on trails and off trails, occasionally over uneven and hilly ground. Online learning will include live presentations and discussions with your instructor via Zoom web conferencing and readings and assignments through a course website at

Instructor: Trinity Pierce, Chicago Region Trees Initiative stewardship manager

Prerequisites: This course is open to upper division students from colleges or universities that are members of the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area (ACCA). General Biology is a required prerequisite for this class. If you don’t have this prerequisite, please contact to request permission from the Arboretum before enrolling in this class.

Credit: 4 semester hours (or equivalent), upper division undergraduate



Trinity Pierce, Chicago Region Trees Initiative stewardship manager

Trinity Pierce thrives on leading and learning alongside volunteers in and around green spaces. She has designed and implemented restoration projects from the Mountain West to the Midwest, from rural to urban ecosystems. In her role as the Chicago Region Trees Initiative stewardship manager, she collaborates with communities to increase awareness of the importance and benefits of trees and to foster action through plantings and ongoing maintenance in order to grow a healthier, more diverse urban forest. She holds a master of landscape architecture from the University of Michigan and has a background in history, ecological restoration, and urban green space reconciliation.

What to Know


Prospective students from the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area (ACCA) must register both through the Arboretum and through the Registrar’s Office at their college or university. Tuition is determined and assessed by the college or university through which registration takes place. All of the Title IX, accessibility, and academic integrity policies of the college and university through which registration takes place apply to ACCA courses offered at the Arboretum.

Costs and Materials

There are no additional student fees and no required textbooks. A list of required readings and recommended references will be provided to enrolled students; we will recommend purchasing a field guide to trees of the region after discussing recommendations for those guides in class. Students are expected to provide their own transportation and cover their own expenses on field trips.

Course Audit

If you are not a student currently enrolled at a school participating in the ACCA consortium and are interested in auditing the class, the audit fee is $600 for guests or $510 for members. Please note that there is no university credit associated with auditing the class.

Questions about registration? Email or call 630-719-2468.

Program Schedule

This program includes Saturday meeting times in person at the Arboretum, September through November; online meeting times on select Wednesdays, September through November; and two daylong Saturday trips to natural areas rich in woody plants.

In Person

Saturdays, September 7 through November 23, 2024, 9:00 a.m. to noon


Wednesdays, September 11 through November 20, 2024, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Field Trips

Two daylong Saturday field trips


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift