Arboretum programs nurture the public’s interest in land care and living in harmony with nature. We offer many free walks, tours, and activities for the general public as well as paid classes, which explore restoration, native plants, and other topics in-depth. We also offer private guided tours for school groups, scout troops, and adult groups.

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.

There is a fee for classes, and advance registration is required.

Refunds will be given while registration is open, minus a $10 service fee.

Upcoming Classes

Saturday, October 6, 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Water Quality Monitoring Workshop. Become a citizen stream monitor for the Arboretum and Rock River Coalition. You will learn to measure stream flow, temperature, water clarity, and dissolved oxygen, and to assess stream health by examining aquatic insects. Equipment provided; bring a towel, waders or water shoes with toe protection, and your lunch. Instructor: Nancy Sheehan, stream monitoring coordinator, Rock River Coalition. Fee: $60. Registration closed.

Saturday, November 3, 2–4 p.m. All About Owls. 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, and adaptations to acquire food will be discussed. Instructor: Sylvia Marek, Arboretum naturalist. Fee: $20. Register by October 29.

Saturday, November 17, 1–3 p.m. History of the Arboretum’s Lost City.An in-depth look at the fascinating history of the failed Lake Forest development project. Who were the personalities involved? Why didn’t the original project succeed? What is the current status of the area? Instructor: Kathy Miner, Arboretum naturalist. Fee: $20. Register by November 9.

Saturday, December 8, 1–4 p.m. Effigy Mound Culture.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. Indoors, with an outdoor walk if weather permits. Instructor: Paul Borowsky, Arboretum naturalist. Fee: $25. Register by December 4.

2018 Fall Lectures

Human-Nature Connection Lecture Series

Feed your curiosity with our new fall lecture series. Speakers will share science-based insights into ways people engage with the natural world to benefit us all. Walk-in registration will be accepted as capacity allows.

Tuesday, October 2, 7–8:30 p.m. Aldo Leopold Was for the Birds. Stanley Temple, Beers-Bascom Professor Emeritus in Conservation, UW–Madison, and senior fellow, Aldo Leopold Foundation. Leopold loved birds and birding, and his observations provide historical records that offer insight into how birds respond to environmental change. Fee: $10. Advanced registration closed. Walk-in registrations will be accepted.

Tuesday, October 9, 7–8:30 p.m. Citizen-based Monitoring in Wisconsin—Working Together for Conservation.Eva Lewandowski, citizen-based monitoring coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin has a long tradition of the public contribution to science and conservation. Learn how volunteers, professional scientists, and ecosystems benefit from citizen-based monitoring and find out about opportunities to join a project. Fee: $10. Registration closed. Walk-in registrations will be accepted.

October 23, 7–8:30 p.m. Ants and Antibiotics: Potential Lessons from Nature on Ancient Antibiotic Use.Heidi Horn, research assistant, UW–Madison Department of Bacteriology. Fungus-farming ants have grown fungi—and eaten them—for around 60 million years. These same ants have also used antibiotics for nearly 40 million years. Are there lessons to be learned from these tiny creatures about antibiotic resistance and disease in humans? Fee: $10. Registration closed. Walk-in registrations will be accepted.

October 30, 7–8:30 p.m. Tiny Earth in Wisconsin.Sam Rikkers, executive director, Tiny Earth. In 2017, UW–Madison implemented Tiny Earth and joined the global network of instructors and students crowdsourcing antibiotic discovery from the soil. Tiny Earth inspires students in the sciences while addressing the pressing global health challenge of superbugs and antibiotic resistance. Fee: $10. Registration by October 25 recommended. Walk-in registrations will be accepted.

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

Since 1968, the UW Arboretum has offered Winter Enrichment lectures for naturalists in the greater Madison area. Originally coordinated by Rosemary Fleming for Arboretum naturalists, the program is now open to Arboretum volunteers, friends, and interested public as space allows.