Talks, Walks, & Lectures
Winter Lecture Series
Shake off the winter doldrums with our annual Winter Lecture Series. This popular series features presentations by regionally renowned experts on eight Sundays in January and February from 2 to 3 pm. Knowledgeable lecturers address a wide range of topics related to natural history, biodiversity, ecological gardening, native plants, native wildlife and more. For the first time since the pandemic, all lectures will host virtual and in-person attendees with the same admission price.
The 2023 Winter Lecture Series is brought to you, in part, thanks to the generous support of the Bucks County Foundation.
Registration for individual lectures are $18 each. Please, click on the title of each lecture to visit the registration page.
Full Series Bundle
Registration for a full series bundle is available for $126 until Sunday, Jan. 8. Please click here to visit the registration page.
Jan. 8 — Monarch Butterflies: Masters of Migration
Presented by Mike Weilbacher, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
Every year, monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus)—those showy, Halloween-colored beauties—engage in one of nature’s most extraordinary feats: flying to a very few secluded mountain valleys in Mexico. After wintering, they begin a perilous journey north, sometimes taking generations to return to Pennsylvania. And in the fall, they start over again. How do they accomplish this remarkable task? Why did it even evolve? The monarch is also among the most endangered butterflies, their numbers in a steep decline in recent decades—for surprising reasons. Mike Weilbacher shares this butterfly’s unique story, weaving up-to-date science with folk legend and Aztec myth. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the master of butterflies and learn innumerable ways you can help this amazing creature.
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.
Jan. 15 — Pawpaws to the People
Presented by Chris Chmiel, Integration Acres
Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), the North American native tree that produces the largest edible fruits—once nearly forgotten—has seen a dramatic resurgence in popularity. While you may not see the fruit on grocery store shelves, you may be lucky enough to pick one up at your local farmers market or receive one from a friendly neighbor. Chris Chmiel, founder of the Ohio Pawpaw Festival, will present a general overview of the pawpaw and discuss its cultural significance and history. He will share his experiences with Integration Acres, currently the world’s largest pawpaw processor and purveyor of pawpaw products. In addition, Chmiel will talk about this fruit’s cult-like following and the Ohio Pawpaw Festival, the world’s largest of its kind.
Chris Chmiel attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and graduated with a specialized studies degree, “Wholistic Transition to Sustainability.” He started Integration Acres in 1995 and the Ohio Pawpaw Festival in 1999. He is also currently serving as an Athens County commissioner.
Jan. 22 — Preserving Culture Through Gardening
Presented by Justin Trezza, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
South Philadelphia is home to a large refugee population. Once settled, these immigrants created the Growing Home Gardens. This community garden addresses concerns of nutritional deficiencies seen in newly arriving refugees and was created to afford newcomers with the opportunity to grow culturally relevant crops and to feel rooted in their neighborhood. Justin Trezza will discuss his role in maintaining the garden.
Justin Trezza joined the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) as its director of community gardens program in 2017 after working with several agroecological and grassroots organizations. He works closely with his team, including the City Harvest initiative, to support community and cooperative gardens throughout Philadelphia. For the last 15 years, he focused on equitable and sustainable food systems locally and internationally with a focus on Central America. Prior to working with the PHS, Trezza served as the executive director of Norris Square Neighborhood Project and as program director for Sustainable Harvest International.
Jan. 29 — Healing Power of Plants: The Roots of Horticultural Therapy
Presented by Laura DePrado, Final Touch Plantscaping, LLC
Plants have universal appeal. Plants do not judge. Plants are used in sickness and in health, in celebration and in sorrow. We cook with them. We wear them as clothing. What is it about our need to connect to nature? Join Laura DePrado, horticultural therapist/consultant, to learn about horticultural therapy–also known as therapeutic horticulture or social therapy–its history, application in human health and well-being, and evidence base.
Laura DePrado is a horticultural therapist, HTR, B.S. and HT certificate recipient, author, journalist and photographer, specializing in connecting people and plants for human health and well-being. DePrado is the founder, president and owner of Final Touch Plantscaping, LLC, which provides customized activities and programs using plants to impact social, physical and psychological well-being. She has traveled the world studying the ancient use of plants in health and medicine. She is a three-time national presenter of the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) and recipient of the AHTA Alice Burlingame Humanitarian Award.
Feb. 5 — Forest Medicine
Presented by Amanda Crooke, Locust Light Farm
Before the dawn of modern medicine, humans turned to the fields and forest for a reprieve to what ailed them. Explore the medicinal powers of precious forest herbs such as black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum spp.) and spicebush (Lindera benzoin). We will discuss the uses of these plants in traditional and modern herbalism, as well as explore sustainability issues with these plants and discuss alternative herbal options.
Amanda Crooke is the herbalist and owner of Locust Light Farm in Titusville, NJ. She has worked with herbs as a farmer, a medicine-maker and herbalist for eight years, and has offered classes both on her farm and online for all levels of experience. She is the herbal pharmacy teacher at David Winston’s Herbalist Training Program and has a private clinical practice.
Feb. 12 — Glowing, Glowing, Gone: Fireflies of the Eastern & Central United States
Presented by Ben Pfeiffer, Firefly Conservation & Research
Prepare for an enlightening virtual journey to learn about the fireflies (Lampyridae) of the Eastern and Central United States and why they are currently disappearing. Explore the bioluminescent creatures in-depth that, from spring to fall, light up the evenings at dusk. You’ll discover why fireflies flash and how they communicate with potential mates using light. Ben Pfeiffer will present his research findings on Texas firefly taxa with a focus on fireflies found in nearby river basins and riparian areas. He will also discuss how to create a good habitat for fireflies, native plants that help them and ways you can help save many of these special species from extinction.
Ben Pfeiffer is the founder of Firefly Conservation & Research at Firefly.org, a nonprofit dedicated to firefly conservation and education. Pfeiffer is a well-known public speaker and science educator working to document the diversity of fireflies in Texas, as well as their natural history, including their life cycle, preferred habitat and unique flash patterns. His research is helping to illuminate the state’s incredibly rich firefly diversity so that others can work to preserve and enjoy it. Pfeiffer studied biology at Texas State University and is a certified master naturalist. He is a sixth generation Texan who has spent most of his life working to understand Texas ecology and its unique diversity.
Feb. 19 — Discovering Caterpillars
Presented by Stefanie Paeg, Gorman Heritage Farm
Everyone loves butterflies, and with initiatives like National Moth Week, more and more people are gaining an appreciation for moths. However, the adult forms of these insects are only the tip of a very large iceberg! Caterpillars are an intermediate life stage that display every bit of the beauty—and considerably more of the bizarre—of the more commonly encountered adults. This program will provide an introduction to finding and appreciating these often-overlooked marvels.
Stefanie Paeg is an Ohio-based naturalist and interpreter whose career was sparked by a childhood fascination with backyard wildflowers and insects. Prior to returning to her home state of Ohio, Paeg spent several years traveling the Midwest and Eastern US working at various county parks and environmental organizations, “geeking out” about nature wherever she found it. She is an active volunteer with the Midwest Native Plant Society and is a certified interpretive guide through the National Association for Interpretation. She is currently the camps manager and environmental educator at Gorman Heritage Farm in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Feb. 26 — Distilling Flavor and Aromatics of Natives Plants—In Cocktails!
Presented by Linda Shanahan and Eric Vander Hyde, Bluestem Botanicals
Join organic herb farmers Linda Shanahan and Eric Vander Hyde as they explore current and historical uses of some of our most well-known native plants in beverage craft. Some of the species highlighted will include black walnut (Juglans nigra), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), and angelica (Angelica spp.) Learn about the five primary tastes, plants that stimulate those receptors and how to combine these tastes to create a balanced flavor profile when mixing them together in drinks.
Bluestem Botanicals (formerly Barefoot Botanicals) is a certified organic herb farm and certified organic processor located in Southeastern PA. Founded in 2008, the mission of Bluestem Botanicals is to connect people with plants for food, for medicine and for a more resilient collective future. Founders Linda Shanahan, MSN, RN (an herbalist and registered nurse) and Eric Vander Hyde (an herb farmer and controls engineer) value ecology over economy and people over profit. They envision a world in which people live in support of and in balance with the natural systems they depend on. They work every day to make sure that their mission, values and vision remain front and center, guiding every decision they make.
For more information, please call 215.862.2924 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.