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Adult Opportunities

Natural Areas Management (online and in person)

Learn principles and practices for managing critical habitats.

Content Detail

Remnant and restored natural areas act as reservoirs for plant, animal, and insect diversity. In this class you will visit a variety of managed ecosystems in the Chicago area to discuss current conservation challenges and strategies with site managers and volunteer stewards. You’ll learn principles and practices that will help you manage critical habitats wherever you are working. 

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 in-person sessions. Two in-person sessions of the class will meet outdoors at sites of regional restoration interest to explore those natural areas as case studies. 

This program includes a self-paced component and two in-person sessions. 

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

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. 

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

Age: 16 and older


  • This program includes an online component you will complete on your own, and two scheduled in-person field sessions at The Morton Arboretum and regional natural areas.
  • 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, November 10, 2022, 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 60 minutes.
  • Please dress for the weather during the in-person session, 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 sessions. 
  • In-person classes meet at regional natural areas; driving directions will be provided.

September 7, noon Central time: online materials become available
Two days of in-person sessions:
Saturdays, September 17, 2022, 9:00 a.m. to noon. Meet in-person, offsite. Directions will be provided.
Saturdays, September 24, 2022, 9:00 a.m. to noon. Meet in-person, offsite. Directions will be provided.

Thursday, November 10, 2022, noon: Online materials are available.
Two days of in-person sessions:
Saturday, November 19, 2022, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.: Meet in-person at the Gateway to Tree Science, Parking Lot 8, on the East Side of the Arboretum.
Sunday, November 20, 2022, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.: Meet in-person, offsite. Directions will be provided. 

Summer: Greg Rajsky, True Nature Consulting

Greg Rajsky completed the Naturalist Certificate Program through The Morton Arboretum in 1996 and has been teaching courses here ever since. He has been engaged in restoration and management projects across northern Illinois, southeastern Wisconsin, and—more recently—on the Ozark Plateau in Arkansas’ White River Hills Ecoregion. He served as Naturalist/Educator at Severson Dells Nature Center in Rockford and as Executive Director of the Kettle Moraine Land Trust in Wisconsin. In 2013 he established True Nature Consulting to aid landowners in understanding and managing their natural areas. An avid field botanist, Greg enjoys introducing people to the charms of our native flora.

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

Spencer Campbell has over a decade of experience in ecological restoration and environmental education. He is 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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