Adult Programs

Ecosystem Concepts (online and in person)

Explore the interactions that drive ecosystem function and learn to identify plants, animals, and fungi in relation to ecological habitats.

Content Detail

Explore the interactions that drive ecosystem function and learn to identify plants, animals, and fungi in relation to ecological habitats. 

By developing knowledge of ecological food webs and species interdependence you will have a better understanding of how to manage natural areas to support biodiversity. We will discuss influential variables that determine habitat quality and shape an ecosystem, such as light, water, fire, and herbivory. An emphasis on the cyclical nature of the seasons and life history of native species will allow insights for short-term and long-term natural areas management. 

The online component of this class is self-guided and can be completed wherever you have access to a computer, at your own pace. Online assignments are due before the session. 

How do I access the program?

  • Your access information for the online materials will be emailed to you after registering.
  • Log into to complete self-paced activities, such as e-learning modules, reading material, short videos, interactive activities, and quizzes to check your understanding. 
  •  Unless otherwise noted, you will have access to the course for 60 days from the course start date. 
  • The self-paced activities do not need to be completed in one sitting, and your instructor will not be online with you.
  • The class will spend an afternoon outdoors and on-site exploring ecosystems at the Arboretum to discuss factors influencing these habitats and restoration practices.

# W040


  • This class includes both online and on-site sessions. Online assignments must be completed before the on-site class. 
  • The online materials will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. 
  • Registration closes five hours before online materials are available. Participants will have access to the online materials for 60 days after the course start date.
  • Please dress for the weather during the on-site session, with long sleeves and long pants, and  sturdy footwear. Insect repellent and sunscreen may come in handy. 
  • Bring water and a snack. 
  • Limit 15


  • Participants must have access to the internet via a computer or mobile device.
  • A unique email address for each participant is required at registration. 

Continuing education: This class fulfills a requirement for the Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) Program. (Learn more about N-ACT.) 

COVID-19 Precautions:

  • If you are unwell, or have been in contact with someone who is unwell in the last two weeks, you must stay home. A full refund will be issued on request.
  • Participants who are not vaccinated or are partly vaccinated must wear a face mask and practice social distancing, indoors and outdoors. Face masks and social distancing are optional for fully vaccinated individuals.
  • By attending Arboretum programs without a face mask, you are affirming that you are fully vaccinated (at least two weeks have passed since your final shot).

Spencer Campbell, program coordinator, collections volunteers, The Morton Arboretum

Spencer Campbell has over a decade of experience in ecological restoration and environmental education. A self-professed “plant geek” who is eager to share his knowledge of the native flora and fauna of the Midwest. His classes will cover a range of topics about natural resource management, while also creating a space for participants in his classes to explore their own relationship with the natural world.  As the Collections Volunteer Program Coordinator at the Morton Arboretum, his current focus is providing opportunities for the public to participate in land stewardship and equipping them with the skills to lead natural resource management projects in their own communities.


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