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Thursday Night Nature Fall 2022 Bundle

Thursday, September 29 7:00 pm
Thursday, September 29 8:00 pm


The Preserve is proud to announce the continuation of Thursday Night Nature. In the same vein as our popular Winter Lecture Series, the Preserve will host a guest lecturer 7 pm – 8 pm every Thursday for eight weeks, beginning Sept. 29. Using Zoom Webinars these all-virtual lectures will feature an impressive list of experts from across the country. Lecturers will discuss a variety of topics ranging from pollinators to haiku.

Online registration for this program bundle closes Sept. 29 at 5:00 pm.

Last Chance Café: the Secret Life of a Goldenrod Field with Mike Weilbacher (Sept. 29)

Goldenrod fields—the villains in thousands of allergy-relief commercials—are a critically important ecosystem for millions of butterflies, bugs and birds. They are the last chance for life-saving pollen and nectar before the long winter sets in. In a lively, colorful and photo-filled presentation, Preserve naturalist Mike Weilbacher will share the wonderful life histories of the many species found in these fields, including monarch butterflies, bumblebees, praying mantises, crab spiders, peacock flies, assassin bugs and the plants themselves: asters, goldenrods, milkweeds and thistles. This class will inspire a deep appreciation for this critical ecosystem.

Naturalist Mike Weilbacher is executive director of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Philadelphia’s Roxborough section. An award-winning environmental educator for 40 years, Weilbacher writes a weekly column for the Roxborough Review and is well known to public radio listeners as “Mike the All-Natural Science Guy” on the live children’s radio show “Kid’s Corner” on WXPN.

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Green and Natural Burials with Ashley Oppon (Oct. 6)

Traditional burial methods and cremation contribute heavily to our carbon footprint. Educating ourselves on natural burial methods can provide ways to give back to our planet even after death. This program will go over all the current options for green burial methods and how they can help combat climate change.

Ashley Oppon is a registered nurse and a death midwife, a home funeral guide and an advocate for medical aid in dying and green and natural burials. She has done extensive death training and supports individuals from advanced planning to funerals and vigils. Oppon is a part of Sisters of the Sacred, a spiritual collective that creates sacred space for all of life's major moments. With her death work she hopes to make the dying process a safe space for grief and healing.

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What is Native? Context Matters with Amy Highland (Oct. 13)

Loss of habitat and decline in many species, including pollinators, has led to a growing interest in the incorporation and reestablishment of native plants into our environment. Botanic gardens, local governments, ecological organizations and neighborhood gardeners are seeking the best plants for their projects. Selecting from available plants is not always easy, and there is an ever-growing need for evidence-based guidelines on sourcing native plant materials. Join Amy Highland as she shares the decision-making strategies of Mt. Cuba Center in determining when local matters.

Amy Highland is the director of collections and conservation lead at Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware. She obtained her degree in public horticulture from Perdue University before heading east for the Longwood Gardens Internship Program. There, in the plant records office, her love of plant systematics combined with her love of organization and planning. In 2006 she joined Mt. Cuba Center as the plant recorder and in 2012 she became the first curator of Mt. Cuba Center. Soon after, Highland was named director of collections to oversee both living and nonliving collections for the Center and in 2018 was named conservation lead.

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Life After Death with Samantha Nestory (Oct. 20)

Most people are familiar with the innumerable benefits of living trees, but even after their death they provide vital habitat, shelter and food for wildlife. Join us as we learn how dead and dying trees still teem with life, from tiny termites to fantastic flying squirrels and everything in between!

Samantha Nestory is the engagement manager and naturalist at Stoneleigh: a natural garden in Villanova. Nestory’s prior experience includes work with Sarver Ecological, an ecological consulting firm, and Morris Arboretum. She is passionate about native plants, ecological gardening and insect conservation, and she is strongly committed to educating the public about these important issues.

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Pollinators in Pop Culture with Codey Mathis (Oct. 27)

In recent years, insects of all kinds have been gaining attention in media and our pop culture, from video games to news articles about murder hornets. While this may seem like a boon to entomologists, it frequently leads to misinformation and further deepens the negative sentiments that the general public has towards these important invertebrates. In this talk, Codey Mathis discusses the pros and cons of having more attention paid to pollinators and pollinator-adjacent insects, the “good” and the “bad” of how these insects are portrayed in society and ways to improve the messaging for all ages.

Codey Mathis is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Entomology at Penn State University. Her research focuses on improving our understanding of plant-pollinator communities to better inform the conservation of these important insects, as well as critically evaluating existing monitoring methodologies. Mathis received her master’s in miology at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she studied pollinator communities in timber harvests, and her bachelor’s in fisheries and wildlife at Oregon State University. She is from the Pacific Northwest and enjoys hiking with her beagle, reading books about epic fantasy, science history and laments the lack of realistic bee Pokémon.

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Thursday Night Nature: Learning Native Lenape Plants with Barbara Bluejay Michalski (Nov. 3)

Long before pure chemicals were manufactured in labs, members of the Lenape Nation used plants for medicine, some of which are still utilized today. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) and jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) are just a few of these species. This traditional medical knowledge was, and continues to be, passed down through their families. This program will introduce the Lenape people and discuss the importance of respect for plant beings and building a connection with the spirit world.

Bluejay, aka Barbara Michalski, was given the name by her grandfather, Bill Thompson, late Chief Whippoorwill of the Unalachtigo (people near the ocean) Tribe of the Turkey Clan. A member of Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, she has immersed herself in their activities such as serving on the tribal council and as tribal secretary and participating in educating the public by attending events or festivals in the Lenapehoking (Homeland of the Lenape). Most importantly, Bluejay teaches children the history of the Lenape Nation through crafts, storytelling and artifacts. She has also been involved in environmental causes, particularly working for clean water and protecting our Earth Mother. Recently, she has seen a rising interest in medicinal plants and has been working to learn more about them.

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Hedgerows: An Icon of Bucks County’s Rural Vernacular Landscape with David Hughes (Nov. 10)

Get reacquainted with hedgerows, an icon of our rural agricultural roots, and see what opportunities these linear landscapes can provide for us in today’s culture. In this program, David Hughes will present observations on how they were created, what native species they attract and what invasive species threaten them. He will also discuss the functions and ecological values that existing hedgerows provide and draw upon local and regional examples to show the splendor we have in our agricultural remnants. The discussion will end with some thoughts on how to best preserve these unique landscape features.

David Hughes is a registered landscape architect and owner of Weatherwood Design LLC, specializing in native plant-based garden design, ecology and natural habitat preservation. In addition, Hughes is a rustic furniture artist that specializes in hand-crafted structures that he incorporates into his native garden designs. Find out more on his website:

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Wildspawn Mushrooms: Cultivating and Foraging Gourmet Fungi with Cody Iannozzi (Nov. 17)

Cody Iannozzi became captivated by mushrooms through wild foraging. This lecture will begin with a brief history of his adventures in the field and follow how Wildspawn Mushrooms was founded. With an emphasis on Northeastern wild species, Iannozzi will describe some of the identifying characteristics of mushrooms as well as some common misconceptions. He will delve into concepts such as mycorrhiza and the roles of saprophytes and parasites in the ecosystem. Iannozzi will also touch on cooking with mushrooms, medicinal uses of fungi and foraging for them in the wild. Participants will learn what role we can play in the fascinating symbiosis between plants and fungi and how they can grow mushrooms at home!

Mycoenthusiest Cody Iannozzi grew up in rural Hunterdon County, NJ. He attended Lock Haven University, earning a bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in ecology and a minor in environmental science. It was during his first full-time job working for Hunterdon County Mosquito Control that he began collecting mushrooms for identification while surveying potential mosquito habitats. This small side interest quickly skyrocketed into a total love for fungi due to their aesthetic, culinary and medicinal values. By spring of 2021, Iannozzi and his close friend Jeff Mertz officially founded Wildspawn Mushrooms, LLC, a business that specializes in the cultivation, foraging and sale of choice edible mushrooms.

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Program Fee: $105 (Members, enter your code at checkout to receive your 20% discount.)

Additional Information: Online registration for this program closes at 5:00 pm on the date of the program. Zoom invitations will be sent out after this time to the email used to register for the event. The link will come from OR

The series features presentations by regionally renowned experts who address a wide range of topics related to natural history, biodiversity, ecological gardening, native plants and native wildlife.

All lectures will be held virtually using Zoom.