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Adult Opportunities

Intro to Ecological Restoration (online and in person)

Discover the principles and practice of ecosystem restoration.

Content Detail

Learn how communities and land managers are using ecological restoration to help woodlands, wetlands, and prairies thrive in the future, and explore how you can help. Ecological restoration is a process for recovering forests, grasslands, and other ecosystems that have been degraded. Engage with experts in natural resource conservation and fellow participants and volunteers to challenge your assumptions and have conversations about ecological restoration. Explore what is meant by the term ecological restoration, view examples in concept and practice, and discuss the implications of this work.

This program includes an online component you will complete on your own, and two in-person field sessions at The Morton Arboretum.

Instructor: Kurt Dreisilker, head of natural resources and collections horticulture, The Morton Arboretum

Continuing Education: This program 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


Kurt Dreisilker, head of natural resources and collections horticulture, The Morton Arboretum

Kurt Dreisilker has been managing the natural resources at The Morton Arboretum since 2004. In this capacity he leads the development and implementation of ecological restoration projects within the Arboretum’s 900 acres of wetlands, woodlands, and prairies. He has been teaching classes on numerous natural area topics, such as ecosystem conservation and management, invasive species, native plant identification, and many others.

What to Know

  • The online component of this class is self-guided, including online components that can be completed wherever you have access to a computer, at your own pace. Two sessions of the class will meet outdoors and in person at the Arboretum in order to explore restoration practices and case studies. Online assignments will be due before each in-person session.
  • 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 Thursday, April 6, 2023, 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 sessions. It should take about 90 minutes.
  • Please dress for the weather during the in-person session, with long sleeves, long pants, and sturdy footwear.
  • Bring water, a snack, and materials for taking notes in the field to the in-person sessions.


  • Thursday, April 6, 2023, noon Central time: Online materials are available.
  • Saturday, April 15, 2023, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Meet on-site at the Thornhill Education Center.
  • Saturday, April 22, 2023, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Meet on-site at the Prairie Visitor Station on the West Side of the Arboretum (Parking Lot 25).


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