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 for the class you’re attending. Save these emails for your records.

Fall 2023 Classes

Identifying and Monitoring Wisconsin’s Snakes
Saturday, September 16, 1–4:30 p.m.
Wisconsin has more than twenty snake species, nearly all are harmless and fascinating. Learn their natural history, how to identify them, when to look for them, and how to monitor populations. Instructor: Rebecca Christoffel, Christoffel Conservation. Indoor presentation followed by outdoor monitoring demonstration. Meet at the Visitor Center. Fee: $35. Register by September 12»

Reading the Landscape – Woodlands
Saturday, October 21, 1–3:30 p.m.
Explore Gallistel and Wingra Woods during peak fall colors. Learn to identify plants, distinguish the characteristics of different woodlands, and find out about the restoration and management of these communities. Instructor: Sylvia Marek, Arboretum naturalist. Outdoor class, takes place except in unsafe weather. Meet at the Visitor Center. Fee: $25. Register by October 17»

Effigy Mounds of Southern Wisconsin
Saturday, October 28, 1–4 p.m.

Earthen mounds with conical, linear, and animal shapes were built by Native people in southern Wisconsin. The effigy mound groups at the Arboretum are among the few remaining of hundreds built in our area more than 1,000 years ago. Learn about the mounds, the people who created them, and their environment. Indoor class, with optional outdoor walk if weather permits. Instructor: Paul Borowsky, Arboretum naturalist. Meet at the Visitor Center. Fee: $30. Register by October 24»

All About Owls
Saturday, November 4, 1–3 p.m.

Learn about Wisconsin’s twelve owl species, focusing on the three that nest in Madison, and how to identify these elusive birds of prey. Habitat, calls, courtship, hunting, and eating will be discussed. Instructor: Sylvia Marek, Arboretum naturalist. Indoor class. Meet at the Visitor Center. Fee: $20. Register by October 31»

History of the Arboretum’s Lost City
Saturday, November 18, 1–3 p.m.
Explore the history and mysteries of the failed Lake Forest development project and the land that became part of the Arboretum. More than a century has elapsed! This indoor class will cover the personalities involved, why the project didn’t succeed, and the current status of the area. Instructor: Kathy Miner, Arboretum naturalist. Meet at the Visitor Center. Fee: $20. Register by November 14»

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. The ten-week series runs February to April. 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.