Advanced Naturalist Workshops

2014 Advanced Naturalist Workshops - Series 10

Series 10 of our Advanced Naturalist Workshops is a celebration of a few of the special workshops from the past. To date, very few workshops topics have been repeated, but due to overwhelming demand and the 10th anniversary of the series, it’s only fitting that we bring back a few of the greats!

The workshops are a continuation of the Edge of Appalachia's systematic study and cataloging of preserve resources and field training for those interested in nature study. All sessions are taught by professionals in their fields who in many cases have written books or conducted research on their topics. The workshops are open to all skill levels, although naturalists, science educators, natural area managers and others in the natural sciences will find these workshops especially beneficial.

All workshops are held at the 17,000-acre Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve in Adams County, Ohio.

May 9-11, 2014

Dr. Harvey Ballard, Associate Professor, Ohio University

Few people in Ohio know the violet family like Harvey Ballard, a respected authority on the family and an all-around botanical whiz. Violets are often lumped with grasses, sedges and other botanical challenges as too difficult to identify to species. Join Dr. Ballard to learn the nearly 30 species of violets of Ohio to species and to delve into all things violet. Well, maybe not all things "violet," as some species are white, yellow, lavender and even bi-colored.

Most naturalists, and even some experienced botanists, simply lump them by color, but subtle features of the leaf, petals, stems and stipules allow you to separate them to species. Dr. Ballard will share these subtleties with us and discuss the family’s propensity for hybridizing in hopes of separating some of the more problematic individuals. This will be peak time for violets on the preserve and the perfect time for this workshop. Consider this a unique opportunity to spend a weekend in the field and lab with arguably Ohio’s most experienced violet expert and all-around botanical authority.  

July 11-13, 2014

Doug Wynn, Contract Herpetologist

Join respected herpetologist, rattlesnake researcher and lead author of a much-anticipated book on Ohio reptiles, Doug Wynn, for this ground-breaking workshop to document the snakes of the newly acquired preserve lands in the Sunshine Corridor. Some 1,500 acres of a 6,000-acre corridor to connect the preserve with Shawnee Forest have been purchased by our partner The Nature Conservancy, but little work has been done to survey the snakes of the area. In particular, hopes will be high for documenting the first record for the state endangered timber rattlesnake on preserve lands. A lofty goal, but timbers are frequently encountered by locals in the region.

Doug will cover identification and life history/ecology of snake species we hope to find and present his 20 years of research on timber rattlesnakes in the region as well. Doug has hopes of radio tracking a pit tagged rattlesnake as part of the field experience, so participants will need to be in good physical shape and able to hike steep hills in the heat with a smile. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to be in the field with one of Ohio’s top herpetologists and to expand your knowledge of Ohio snakes while assisting the preserve’s survey efforts.

August 15-17, 2014

Dr. Jaret Daniels, Assistant Curator, Florida Museum of Natural History’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, Associate Professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida

With 94 species of the 145 species recorded for Ohio, the Edge of Appalachia Preserve is the perfect location to begin your study of butterflies. And with the highly respected lepidopterist and author of Butterflies of Ohio, Dr. Jaret Daniels, as the instructor, this is the butterfly workshop to attend in 2014! Dr. Daniels' professional work focuses on conservation biology of imperiled Lepidoptera, but his primary academic research interests remain broad and include conservation and population biology, ecology, life history, behavior, biodiversity, seasonal ecology and polyphenism.

Dr. Daniels will bring all this knowledge to bear for this workshop while teaching butterfly identification, morphology and life history both in the field and in the lab. Learn to separate the skippers and cloudy wings along with some of the other more difficult groups while taking in some of the easier species. Caterpillar identification will also be fodder for this workshop. Dr. Daniels has extensive knowledge and experience with Ohio butterflies and beyond, plus his excitement and deep knowledge of all things lepidopteran make him a delight and an inspiration for professional and lay persons alike.  

Sept. 5-7, 2014

The Singing Insects
Wil Hershberger, Author of The Songs of Insects & Lisa Rainsong, Music Theory Professor, Cleveland Institute of Music

This is a not-to-be-missed workshop with two leading authorities on song, both the insect form and the musical. Wil Hershberger is back by popular demand as part of our celebration of ten years of workshops at the preserve having led a past workshop in 2011. His book on insect songs is still the standard for learning the singing insects and Wil is respected as a dynamic teacher. Lisa Rainsong is joining him to train us all how to listen and learn insect calls by using techniques related to learning music. She is not only an accomplished music theory professor but a first rate naturalist/orthopterist as well, so the combination will be formidable. 

With more than 80 singing insect species in Ohio, and over half of them found at the preserve, this workshop will be the perfect opportunity to begin learning your insect songs without being overwhelmed. Coupled with our song studies will be identification by sight as well (in the hand). Wil has brought the world of singing insects to the forefront of naturalist studies with his amazing field recordings and book, The Songs of Insects, and Lisa is using her deep knowledge of music and nature to promote protection of these  "singers" in the "cathedrals and halls" where they perform. No concert is more impressive than the one given on summer nights at The Edge of Appalachia, so don’t miss this show!

Sept. 19-21, 2014

Dr. Richard Bradley, The Ohio State University

Join Dr. Bradley to celebrate the completion of his much awaited new book, Common Spiders of North America (2013) and to learn spiders firsthand. Dr. Bradley was one of four brave instructors to teach the first workshop series 10 years ago, so it’s only fitting that he return to lead a workshop for the 10-year anniversary of the series. To date, preserve staff have catalogued 360 species of spiders, and this workshop will look to add to this list while teaching the fundamentals of spider biology, anatomy, web construction, and diverse mechanisms for capturing prey.

Microscopes will be used to view spider anatomy, including web spinning structures, eye placements, book lung openings and the complex male pedipalp, all of which are used to recognize spider families. Spiders have long been avoided and misunderstood by naturalists yet are one of the most accessible Ohio creatures to study and share. Spiders of various species can be found year round and inhabit every possible niche—including our houses. Learn about spider silks and their uses and dip into a world few naturalists have visited with this respected leading authority.

Registration Information

Click here to download the registration form. Mail registration form and check payable to Cincinnati Museum Center to:

Edge of Appalachia Preserve
4274 Waggoner Riffle Road
West Union, OH 45693

Contact Preserve Director Chris Bedel at for more information.

Cost: $200 Includes relevant book or scientific keys, use of microscopes, 2 nights lodging, all meals, snacks and instruction. Maximum of 10 participants for each workshop.

When: Workshops start Fridays at 7 p.m. and end Sunday at 1 p.m.

Where: Cincinnati Museum Center’s Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve, one hour and 45 minutes east of Cincinnati. Directions mailed upon receipt of registration.

Special concerns: Preserve staff may collect specimens for documentation, no personal collecting allowed. Workshops are both indoors and in the field. Participants should be able to handle moderate hiking conditions as the preserve is situated in rugged, unglaciated southern Ohio and tolerate the elements, such as bugs and rain, with a smile. Note: See Cliff Ecology workshop description.

Lodging: The Rieveschl Chalet on the Rieveschl Preserve. Rustic and comfortable with four beds to a room, private bathrooms with showers on both floors. Private rooms not available. Air-conditioned and heated. Meals prepared by preserve staff. Bedding and towels not provided. Complete list provided with registration fee. Workshop cost cannot be discounted if lodging off site.

Cancellation policy: Workshop fee (minus $25 handling charge) refundable up to 3 weeks prior to date of workshop. No refunds within 3 weeks prior to workshop.