Note: Out of concern for the health of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Visitor Center will be closed and in-person Arboretum events are cancelled until further notice. Please join us for virtual programming. COVID-19 updates»

Arboretum Classes

Classes at the Arboretum offer in-depth coverage of topics and explore ways humans interact with the environment, delving into natural history, conservation, restoration, Arboretum history, and the arts. For paid classes, refunds will be given while registration is open, minus a $10 service fee.

Advance registration is required. You will receive two automated email acknowledgements after you register: One is a payment confirmation, the other is a registration confirmation listing the class you’re attending. Save these emails for your records.

A few days before each virtual class, you will receive an email with a calendar invite and a Zoom link to access the talk.

Spring 2021 Virtual Classes

History of the Arboretum’s Lost City

Tuesday April 13 and Thursday April 15, 7–8 p.m.

Learn about the fascinating history of the failed Lake Forest development project and how the land became part of the Arboretum. This two-session virtual class will explore the personalities involved, why the project didn’t succeed, the status of the area now, and a video tour of the site. Instructor: Kathy Miner, Arboretum naturalist. Fee: $15 for session. Register by April 6.

Registration is closed.


Nature Poetry
Session 1: Fridays, February 5 and 12, 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m. Registration required by January 31.
Session 2: Fridays, February 19 and 26, 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m. Registration required by February 14.

These two-class sessions offer a sampling of modern nature poetry, covering poets from Gary Snyder to Joy Harjo to Evie Shockley. We will consider human relationships with nature and then address contemporary topics such as the psychological benefits of nature, sustainability, and biodiversity loss. This is an appreciation class but we may also share writing. Sessions are two classes. Instructor: Troy Hess. Fee: $15 for session. Space is limited.

Registration for session 1 is closed.
Register for session 2 is closed.

Writing Your “Marshland Elegy”
Tuesdays, March 2 and 9, 6:30–8 p.m. Registration required by February 25.

An elegy acknowledges sorrow and loss. Aldo Leopold eloquently used the elegiac device in the essay “Marshland Elegy.” In this two-class session, we will interpret Leopold’s elegy through the contemporary lens of unprecedented loss of species and ecological diversity. The first class will cover topics and in the second we will share short written pieces. Session is two classes, March 2 and 9. Instructor: Troy Hess. Fee: $15 for session. Space is limited.

Registration closed.

Annual Learning Programs

Native Gardening Conference

Held every September at the Arboretum, the Native Gardening Conference promotes sustainable gardening practices and use of native plants in home landscapes. We inspire and inform gardeners, homeowners, and landowners to create and maintain native gardens or small-scale restorations on their own property. The program welcomes people with a range of interests and experience.

Winter Enrichment

The Arboretum’s long-running Winter Enrichment series offers lectures for naturalists in the greater Madison area as well as for volunteers, friends, and community members as space allows. The ten-week series runs January to March. See the Winter Enrichment page for more information.

Friends of the Arboretum Luncheon-Lectures

The Luncheon-Lectures series, organized by Friends of the Arboretum, presents monthly talks with a catered lunch. Friends receive priority registration, but talks are open to anyone as space allows.