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Adult Opportunities

Winter Tree ID (online and in person)

Learn to identify trees after they shed their leaves for the winter.

Content Detail

Develop the skills to identify winter trees using clues found in buds, fruits, leaf scars, bark, and branching patterns. Leaves are one of the first characteristics taught when identifying trees. By learning to use other parts of the tree for identification, participants can learn how to identify trees even in winter when leaves are gone.

The class begins with a self-paced online lesson, where you will learn the foundational skills and terminology related to identifying deciduous trees. Complete this 60-minute session on your own, any time before the scheduled field session.

Then come to the Arboretum for the field session, when you will develop and hone your tree ID skills with the guidance of your instructor. As you walk the grounds of the Arboretum, you will work together to practice identifying trees using the skills you learned online.

Bring a copy of the Winter Tree Finder, by May T. Watts and Tom Watts, which is available in The Arboretum Store or your favorite bookseller. Plan to dress for winter weather and be prepared to walk more than a mile and spend extended time outdoors during the in-person session.

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

Instructor: Kim Shearer, curator of collections and manager of new plant development, The Morton Arboretum

Continuing Education: This class fulfills a plant identification requirement for the Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) Program. Learn more about N-ACT. If you are interested in continuing education credits for other programs or organizations, please contact education@mortonarb.org.

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

#N100

Kim Shearer, curator of collections and manager of new plant development, The Morton Arboretum

Kim Shearer is the curator of collections and the manager of new plant development for The Morton Arboretum’s Daniel P. Haerther Charitable Trust New Plant Development Program. She came to the Arboretum after completing her MS degree in horticulture with a focus in plant breeding and genetics at Oregon State University. Her experience and education has been primarily focused on the propagation, development, and evaluation of tree and shrub species from around the world. She manages the New Plant Development lab, engages audiences around the country to promote trees and shrubs through the Chicagoland Grows® Plant Introduction Program, and works closely with academics and the nursery industry in the evaluation of tree and shrub selections.

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 Thursday, December 1, 2022 (Section A) or December 5, 2022 (Section B), 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.
  • The in-person session will be held outdoors. Plan to stand for long periods and walk on uneven ground.
  • Required: Bring a copy of the Winter Tree Finder, by May T. Watts and Tom Watts. It is available in The Arboretum Store or from online retailers such as Amazon.  
  • Dress for the weather and be prepared to walk more than a mile and spend extended time outdoors. Wear sturdy shoes appropriate for winter conditions. 
  • N-ACT Certification: This class fills a plant identification requirement for N-ACT participants. 

Program Schedule

Section A:

Thursday, December 1, 2022, noon Central time: Online materials are available.

Saturday, December 10, 2022, noon to 3 p.m. Central time: Meet in person at the Arboretum’s Thornhill Education Center.

Section B:

Monday, December 5, 2022, noon Central time: Online materials are available.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022, noon to 3 p.m. Central time: Meet in person at the Arboretum’s Thornhill Education Center.

Section C: 

Thursday, January 19, 2023, noon Central time: Online materials are available.

Saturday, January 28, 2023, noon to 3:00 p.m.: Meet on-site at Thornhill Education Center.

Section D:

Thursday, February 2, 2023, noon Central time: Online materials are available.

Saturday, February 11, 2023, noon to 3:00 p.m.: Meet on-site at Thornhill Education Center.

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