Adult Education

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

Viewing Events from March 16, 2018 to April 15, 2018

Braiding Sweetgrass: the teachings of plants

Braiding Sweetgrass: the teachings of plants

Robin Wall Kimmerer , PhD, Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director, Center for Native Peoples and the Environment
1 Session: Friday, March 23, 7:00–8:30pm
Location: Hunnewell Building

Drawing on her life as an indigenous plant scientist, a teacher, a writer and a mother, Robin Wall Kimmerer will share ideas found in her award-winning book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, in which she shows how plants—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In traditional ecological knowledge, plants are regarded not only as persons, but as among our oldest teachers. If plants are our teachers, what are they teaching us and how can we be better students? In a rich braid of ecological science, indigenous philosophy and literary reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she explores and celebrates the material and cultural gifts of plants and our responsibilities for reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.
Fee $10 member, $20 nonmember

Register at or call 617-384-5277.

Compact Orchard Workshop

Planning and Creating a Compact Orchard

Staff, Wakefield Estate
1 Session: Saturday, March 24, 9:00–11:00am

Become a backyard orchardist and grow your own fruit! Even with a small yard, you can enjoy fruit from your own trees with minimal effort and cost. This step-by-step workshop will teach you all you need to know to plan and create a compact orchard for years of enjoyment. Participants will spend part of the workshop outside in the orchard for a pruning demonstration, so dress accordingly. Space is limited; pre-registration required.
Fee $20 member, $30 nonmember

Offered with the Mary M. B. Wakefield Charitable Trust

Register at or call 617-384-5277.

Reciprocating the Gifts of the Plants

Returning the Gift: How do we reciprocate the gifts of the plants?

Robin Wall Kimmerer , PhD, Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director, Center for Native Peoples and the Environment
1 Session: Saturday, March 24, 9:30am–12:30pm
Location: Hunnewell Building

This workshop with Robin Wall Kimmerer, indigenous plant scientist and distinguished teacher, engages participants in exploring the material and cultural gifts of the plants, from ecosystem services, to food, medicine and lessons on how we might live. Through guided observations, readings, and writing, together we will explore how we might reciprocate those gifts, with gifts of our own.
Fee $40 member, $60 nonmember

Register at or call 617-384-5277.

Tree Spotter Training

Learn to Observe: Tree Spotter Spring Training

Suzanne Mrozak, Tree Spotter Volunteer Coordinator and Danny Schissler, Research Assistant, Arnold Arboretum
Select a date: February 25 1:00-3:30 pm, March 11, 10:30-1:00pm, March 25, 1:00-3:30pm, April 14, 1:00-3:30pm
Location: Hunnewell Building Lecture Hall

Multiple Sessions: Sunday, February 25 1:00-3:30 pm, Sunday, March 11, 10:30-1:00pm, Sunday, March 25, 1:00-3:30pm, Saturday, April 14, 1:00-3:30pm

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
Register at or call 617-384-5209.

Director's Lecture Series: Jerry Mitrovica


The Fingerprints of Sea Level Change in a Warming World

Jerry X. Mitrovica, PhD, Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University
1 Session: Monday, March 26, 7:00–8:30pm
Location: Hunnewell Building

Sea level changes are a particularly dramatic consequence of global warming and estimates of the average rise in sea level over the past decade are routinely reported in the media. However, such estimates obscure the fact that observed sea level changes vary dramatically around the globe. Professor Jerry Mitrovica will describe the sources of this variability and focus on the unique patterns – or fingerprints – of sea level change that follow the melting of ice sheets and glaciers. Those of us who live on the US east coast should be far more concerned about the fate of the distant Antarctic Ice Sheet than the future of our neighbor, the ice sheet that now covers Greenland.
Fee Free. Members only. Registration required as seating is limited.

Become a member.

Register online at or call 617-384-5277.

Taking Stock Tree Walk

Taking Stock Tree Walk

Nina Bassuk, PhD, Professor and Program Leader, Urban Horticulture Institute, Cornell University; Michael Dosmann, PhD, Keeper of the Living Collections, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University; Andrew Gapinski, MS, Manager of Horticulture, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
1 Session: Monday, April 2, 2:30–4:00pm
Location: Hunnewell Building Landscape

A bit of magic happens when one invites three tree professionals to wander a landscape together. In this case, we have matched professor with former student and three individuals with differing experiences and expertise in woody plants. Nina Bassuk, a leader in urban tree research, was one of Michael Dosmann’s professors while he earned his doctorate at Cornell. Michael is responsible for curating the 15,000 specimens of the Arnold Arboretum. Andrew Gapinski, who has worked at several arboreta prior to his tenure at the Arnold Arboretum, is charged with the horticultural care of the Arboretum’s 281 acres. On this arboreal walk, they will speak as moved by the sights and sounds of the Arboretum’s living collection. We can’t define the topics they may cover on this walk, but we do know that you will gain a richer appreciation for trees and absorb some nuggets of botanical wisdom to share with others.
Fee $10 member, $20 nonmember

Register at or call 617-384-5277.

Forest Bathing: Half Day Retreat

Forest Bathing - Half Day Retreat

Guided Therapeutic Experience
Year Round, 1st Saturday and 1st Thursday of each month
, 8:00am-11:00am
Tam Willey, Certified Forest Therapy Guide
Year Round, 1st Saturday and 1st Thursday of each month
Location: Bussey St. Gate Entrance at map tables

Did you know that spending time connecting with nature has been medically and scientifically proven to treat stress-related illnesses?  Relax and unplug on a Guided Forest Bathing Walk, a slow-paced facilitated combination of wandering, sitting, and resting.  We will cover no more than 1-2 miles as I Guide us through a sequence of gentle sensory-opening invitations that welcome us to notice more of our surroundings in a way that support reconnecting or deepening our connection with the natural world.  
This practice is inspired by Shinrin-Yoku, a term coined in Japan in the 1980’s, where much infrastructure has been created around designated healing forests.  Shinrin-Yoku translates to Forest Bathing and is a prominent feature of preventative medicine and healing in Japan.  A plethora of studies have been done demonstrating how nature is powerful medicine in treating stress-related illnesses.


Experience the healing power of the Arboretum.

Tam is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs.  She recently completed her practicum here at the Arnold Arboretum.  Tam has first hand experience of the healing benefits of spending time in nature. For more information about Tam take a look at her website, Toadstool Walks.
Fee $40 member, $50 nonmember
Register at or call 617-384-5209

In case of inclement weather, contact 617.304.9313

Arboretum for Educators

Arboretum for Educators

Monthly: Select Saturdays, 9:00–11:30am
Location: Hunnewell Building

Arboretum for Educators monthly explorations are a professional development opportunity for elementary and middle school teachers to introduce the Arboretum landscape as an outdoor classroom. Participants learn about specific hands-on life science topics that may be used or adapted by teachers for their own classrooms and outdoor spaces. Meet and network with other like-minded educators, and engage in life science learning.

View 2017-2018 schedule.
Free, but registration requested

Ecology of Spring

Ecology of Spring

Bryan Connolly, PhD, Department of Biology, Framingham State University
1 Session: Saturday, April 7, 11:00am–1:00pm
Location: Hunnewell Building Landscape

As soils, air, and water temperatures warm, wondrous developments take place in the landscape. In this season of mud, life previously dormant activates, hatches, expands, emerges. Biologist Bryan Connolly will speak about natural developments and interconnections taking place at this time of year in New England and then will lead a walk of discovery through various environments found at the Arnold Arboretum. Dress appropriately for outdoor exploration.
Fee $10 member, $20 nonmember

Register at or call 617-384-5277.

Growing Shiitake Mushrooms

Growing Gourmet Shiitake Mushrooms

Rachel Brinkman, Assistant Manager of Horticulture
1 Session: Sunday, April 8, 10:00am–Noon

Rachel Brinkman has been growing mushrooms for several years at the Arnold Arboretum and in the past has worked with Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension, teaching woodlot owners how they can farm their own gourmet mushrooms. All that is needed is a bit of shade and some inoculated logs to construct a crib that can produce a variety of mushroom types. Rachel will share what she has learned and guide you through the process of drilling logs, inoculating them with spawn, and then sealing them with wax. She will discuss care for a bountiful crop. Each participant will go home with an Arboretum-grown shiitake-inoculated log readied for mushroom production.
Fee $45 member; $58 nonmember

Register at or call 617-384-5277.

Fifty Shades of Green: Tales from the Hothouse

Fifty Shades of Green: Tales from the Hothouse Title

Terry Huang, MSc, Living Collections Fellow, Arnold Arboretum
1 Session: Friday, April 13, 7:30–8:30pm
Location: Hunnewell Building

Alluring suitors with a pungent rotten odor, promising nectar for the exchange of goods, or going at it alone, plants have evolved interesting strategies to ensure their continued existence. In this bawdy botanical review, Terry Huang delves into the sex lives of plants, dramatically explaining the challenges of courtship and consummation for those rooted in place. From mutualistic partnerships to deceit-filled ones that would rival the most twisted romance, his vivid pollination stories reveal the ingenious ways flowers deal with one of life’s (most) important needs. Sex.
(Adult content: Rated PG)
Fee $5 member, $10 nonmember

Terry Huang earned a Bachelor of Science in Plant Biology at the University of Washington and a Master of Science in Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh. He enjoys sharing his passion for plants with anyone who will listen. He performed Fifty Shades of Green at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017.

Register at or call 617-384-5277.