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Kingdom Fungi:

An Introduction to Ecology & Identification

Summer 2024 | $75.00

2024 Dates Announced at end of March 2024

The world of fungi is both fascinating and mysterious. Fungi are equipped to succeed in some of the earth’s most unique and challenging environments. They have captivated human imagination and inquiry, and their existence has intimately shaped life on earth. In this class you will be introduced to the ecological roles that fungi play globally and within ecosystems here in the northeast.  We will cover major taxonomies of common mushrooms and the skills necessary for mushroom identification in the field.  Each unit will also spotlight some local and common mushrooms you are sure to run across.


Course Format & Timing

This course spans two months, and comprises four units delivered as content bundles every 2 weeks. Students can engage in the course content at their own pace, and on their own schedule. Each content bundle contains: 

  • A recorded video lecture on the unit topic.

  • Assignments and “field challenges,” to engage in the course content.

  • Readings and resources to dive deeper into the subject matter.

  • A live videoconference session with the instructor to further explore unit materials, hear from guest speakers, answer student questions, or debrief field assignments. These sessions will be recorded for those unable to join live.

Each course contains 7-8 hours of content, excluding assignments and readings.

When can I take the course?

You may take the course alongside the group during the listed months, or you can take the course independently at any time. You do not have to register by the course starting date. Students enrolled in the course during the listed months will have the benefit of accessing live videoconference sessions, but recordings of all live components are made available to all students.

When does my course start?

If you are enrolled in the course before the beginning of the course window, you can expect to receive access to the first unit bundle on July 6th. 

If you enroll in the course any time after the beginning of the course window, you will receive instructions to access course materials shortly after registering.

Cost: $75.00
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Unit 1 - What’s that? 

We'll start by discussing the historical and scientific understanding of fungi, and acquaint ourselves with the major ecological roles of fungi. You’ll be introduced to common terms used to describe features of mushrooms, and techniques for properly identifying them. 

Unit 2 - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Fungi  

We’ll discuss this unique role of fungi and the adaptations that allow for their success as phenomenal decomposers, and their propensity to parasitize other organisms.  We will, of course, have to approach the question, "To Eat or Not to Eat?" and all that entails. 

Unit 3 - Symbiosis and ‘Feel Good’ Factors of Fungi

We'll learn about the intricate and sometimes very specific symbiotic relationships between fungi and other organisms throughout the world. We’ll dive deep into the network of mycorrhizal relationships, how they work, and their significance to virtually life on earth.

Unit 4 - Out of this World and Into Another

We'll explore the curiosities of this kingdom that seem to be right out of science fiction, and investigate the historical and cultural significance of fungi as allies to humans.  We’ll wrap the course up with a look ahead to the future of our relationship with fungi, and we'll prepare you with additional resources for further learning and development in the field of mycology. 

About the Instructor

Dave Muska began his inquiry into the field of mycology nearly 20 years ago when he began foraging for mushrooms as food and medicine.  Dave is a Wilderness Skills Instructor, Naturalist, and Licensed Outdoor Guide and founder of Ondatra Adventures, an endeavor devoted to providing people with a deeper connection to the natural world through educational programs, guided hikes, and excursions. Dave works with children and adults to develop meaningful and personal relationships with the natural world and its fellow organisms and is a Teacher-Naturalist at the North Branch Nature Center.

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