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Adult Opportunities

Ecosystem Concepts (online and in person)

Explore the interactions that drive ecosystem function.

Content Detail

Learn to identify plants, animals, and fungi in relation to ecological habitats, and examine the interactions between them that are critical to the functioning of the ecosystem.

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. The class 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 provide insights for short-term and long-term natural areas management.

Complete a self-paced, online component wherever you have access to a computer. Online assignments are due before the in-person session.

Then attend the in-person session to explore ecosystems at the Arboretum and discuss factors influencing these habitats and restoration practices.

This program includes a self-paced online component and an in-person session at the Arboretum.

Instructor: Dave Hodge, Turning Leaf Conservation

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

Health and Safety: Program participants must abide by the Arboretum’s health and safety guidelines. Guidelines are subject to change, so please check back frequently.

Age: 16 and older


Dave Hodge, Turning Leaf Conservation

David Hodge’s love of wild things started with his upbringing in the Piney Woods of East Texas. His interest in nature eventually led to a BS in wildlife fishery science from Texas A&M University and an MS in environmental science from Indiana University. He moved to the Chicago area and worked in the restoration field at St. Charles Park District, McHenry Co. Conservation District, and The Nature Conservancy. Since 2002 he has run his own company, Turning Leaf Conservation, doing ecological restoration throughout the Chicago area.


What to Know

  • This program includes an online component you will complete on your own, and a scheduled in-person field session at The Morton Arboretum.
  • Please provide a unique email address for each registrant at registration. Participants must have access to the internet, know how to use a web browser (ex: Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer), and know how to send and receive email.
  • Registrants will receive an email with instructions on how to access Treelearning, the Arboretum’s online learning portal. Access begins at noon on the program’s start date, and lasts for 60 days.
  • Complete self-paced activities, such as e-learning modules, reading material, short videos, interactive activities, and quizzes to check your understanding. The self-paced activities do not need to be completed in one sitting. Your instructor will not be online with you.
  • Complete the online component before the in-person session. It should take about 30 minutes.The in-person session will meet outdoors. Dress for the weather, with long sleeves, long pants, and sturdy footwear. Sunscreen and insect repellent may come in handy.
  • Bring a snack and water to the in-person session.


Wednesday, March 8, 2023, noon Central time: online materials are available.

Saturday, March 18, 2023, 9:00 to 12:00 p.m.: Meet in-person at the Arboretum’s Thornhill Education Center


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