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Northern Ecology

Spring Phenology in the Field: Wildflowers and Beyond

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Course Overview

Phenology is the recording of the natural calendar—the arrival times of various migrating birds, lake ice-outs, blooming dates of wildflowers, harvest times for crops, and tree leaves changing color in the fall are all events that help us understand the pulse of the landscape. Join co-author of the Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendars for 46 years, Jim Gilbert, for a hands-on exploration of spring phenological events on the North Shore. We’ll go into the field to observe what’s happening in a variety of habitats, including wildflower and other plant identification, as well as observation of birds, insects, and the water. Since long-term phenology monitoring helps us keep track of the changing world, the events that we observe and record during this class will be compared with several years in the past. Jim will get you started with your own phenology journal or list of nature’s happenings, which will draw you deeper into a relationship with the environment. Note, there will be an hour-long lunch break in town each day. Students should be able to hike up to two miles daily over uneven terrain.

Required Tools

  • Clothing and footwear to keep you comfortable in the spring woods, which can be muddy and buggy and rainy at times.
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle

Optional Tools

The following field guides are recommended if you’re looking for a good book, but not required for participation in the course.

  • Roger Tory Peterson’s Birds
  • Roger Tory Peterson’s Wildflowers

Session Information

This course is part of the Northern Landscapes Festival. Evening programs on northern ecology topics will be offered to the public at no charge on Friday and Saturday evenings. Additional information is available at


Fri, Jun 2nd, 2023  –  Sat, Jun 3rd, 2023

Course Details

Hours: Day 1: 9am-6pm; Day 2: 9am-4pm
Tuition: $200.00
Materials fee: $5.00
Latest Update: View recent changes →

Meet the Instructor

North House Folk School photo of instructor, Jim Gilbert
Jim Gilbert
Waconia, MN

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Spring Phenology in the Field: Wildflowers and Beyond