Adult Education

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is a community resource for education, offering a variety of learning opportunities including lectures, classes, workshops, and tours of our living collections and historical landscape. Join us as we explore the biology and horticulture of woody plants, and delve into topics related to Earth’s biodiversity and evolutionary history, the environment, conservation biology, and key social issues associated with current science.

Featured Programs

Learn to Observe: Tree Spotters Citizen Science


Presenters: Catherine Chamberlain, Suzanne Mrozak, and Danny Schissler
Next Session: Sunday, September 18, 12:30pm–3:00pm
Location: Weld Hill Building

With nearly 4,000 different kinds of plants represented in the Arboretum’s living collections, every day presents rich opportunities to see something new. If you enjoy learning about plants and their unique characteristics, you can contribute to science as a participant in our Tree Spotters program. This citizen science project opens a window into the Arboretum’s phenology: the timing of natural events, such as the leafing out and flowering of trees in the spring and changing foliage colors in the fall. Your observations will assist Arboretum scientists in their studies of the effects of a changing climate on plants. Attend a free training session. All levels of experience are welcome.

Once trained, Tree Spotters will participate in the program by visiting the Arboretum two or more times a month from March through November for a 1 to 2 hour tree-spotting session. You can do this on your own, with friends or family, or with other volunteers. You will enter your observations into your Nature’s Notebook Observation Deck (an online database created and supported by the US National Phenology Network) that allows you to see patterns across the season! Registered participants will receive an e-mail before the training with further information.
Free, but registration requested.

If you cannot attend this training but are still interested in the program, please contact us at



Drought-Tolerant Plants

Jen Kettell 2016

Drought-Tolerant Plants for the Dog Days of Summer

Jen Kettell,Arborist and Horticultural Educator
1 Session: Wednesday, July 27, 6:30–8:30pm
Location: Hunnewell Building

When the dog days of summer hit, many of us are faced with water bans that limit our ability to water our lush gardens. We find ourselves carefully monitoring the water level in rain barrels and hoping for the next rainfall. What if we started to incorporate plants that just need less water? In this lecture, Jen Kettell will share the effects of drought on woody plants and describe plant adaptations for dealing with drought. Most importantly, she will introduce you to a new palette of plant material that will decrease your water use while increasing species diversity and beauty in your home landscape.

Fee $25 member, $35 nonmember Register at or call 617-384-5277.


Conserving Bumble Bees

honey bees on magnolia grandiflora

Rich Hatfield, Senior Conservation Biologist, The Xerces Society
1 Session: Saturday, August 27, 9:00am–4:30pm
Location: Arnold Arboretum, Hunnewell Building

You have heard about the status of the European honey bee, and maybe even learned the fate of some of our 3,600 native bees. Fact of the matter is that bees are in trouble and in need of our attention. The good news is that there is much that you can do to help. Come join in this unique opportunity to learn from the Xerces Society about the status of our native bumble bees, the threats that they face, and what you can do to help. Included will be information on basic life-history and ecology, as well as learning which species are most imperiled throughout the eastern U.S. You will also learn about the threats they face, and what can be done in your yards to help protect them. A focus of the workshop will be training participants how to identify the bumble bees in their backyard, and throughout New England. This day-long workshop will include classroom sessions in the morning, and a field trip to nearby habitat where we will practice bumble bee identification and survey techniques in more detail, while we sample the local area for foraging bumble bees. Participants will also be instructed in how to participate in a collaborative citizen science project called Bumble Bee Watch. This workshop is free and open to the public. Lunch will not be provided, so please bring a sack lunch. A recommended book for this workshop is Bumble Bees of North America by Williams, Thorp, Richardson, and Colla.
Free, but registration required Register through the >Xerces Society or call 503-232-6639.