Nature & Garden

To register please call 914-606-6830 and press option 1

Environmental Education and Conservation
A Partnership Between the College and Westmoreland Sanctuary
Westmoreland Sanctuary is a nature center and wildlife preserve located in Mt. Kisco, serving the Westchester community and beyond. Founded almost 60 years ago, Westmoreland Sanctuary’s ever expanding tracts of land now consist of 640 acres of year-round beauty and 7.5 miles of the finest hiking trails in Westchester. It’s a place where wild bird and animal life flourish; a place where native flowers, shrubs, plants and trees are cherished, protected and preserved. Importantly, it’s also a place to simply come, enjoy and reconnect with nature, and maybe even yourself.

 The health of our environment and natural world depends on a committed generation of today to pass the torch of appreciation, understanding, and respect of the natural world to future generations. Central to Westmoreland Sanctuary’s mission is offering environmental education and conservation programs to all. While touching the lives of 12,000 young students each year with certified environmental programming, Westmorland staff also conducts programs for adults that are both wide and varied. To learn more, please visit:

All classes below are held onsite at Westmoreland Sanctuary, 260 Chestnut Ridge Road, Mount Kisco


NEW! Bird Banding
A unique learning activity in our bird banding program. Participate as staff use mist nets and other techniques to safely capture wild birds, then assist as they identify each bird, record its age and sex, and carefully place a numbered band on the bird before it is released. Allows participants to see what scientists do to study birds. Please dress for the weather.
CE-SCI 2035, 1 Sat., Sept. 17, 10:00 am-12:00 noon, $25. S Ricker. #83961

NEW! Guided Hike: Animal Tracks and Signs
One of the easiest ways to know what is going on in the woods and your neighborhood is to take advantage of the tracks left in snow or mud and other signs animals leave behind. Learn to tell a rabbit track from that of a squirrel, and a coyote from a dog. Everyone will also get the opportunity to make a plaster cast of a local animal’s tracks. Please dress for the weather.
CE-SCI 2036, 1 Sat., Nov. 19, 10:00 am-12:00 noon, $25 (+ $2 plaster track fee, payable to instructor). S Sciame. #83962

NEW! Wilderness Survival: Shelter
Come out to Westmoreland Sanctuary and learn some basic skills for Wilderness Survival. This course will teach the basics of survival shelter building including: things to look for in a shelter site, which materials to use for your shelter and which ones to avoid, prioritizing shelter construction, and what types of shelters are best given the situation. Please dress for the weather.
CE-SCI 2038, 1 Sat., Sept. 24, 10:00 am-12:00 noon, $25. S Sciame. #83836

NEW! Wilderness Survival: Fire
Fire has been an important tool for humanity from the very beginning; it’s used in our daily lives to cook our food, heat our homes, and make our cars run. How much do you know about this ancient resource, and could you get a fire started if your life depended on it? This course will cover the basic needs of fire, how to start a safe fire, different uses of fire, and the best ways to construct fires for those uses. Please dress for the weather.
CE-SCI 2037, 1 Sat., Oct. 8, 10:00 am-12:00 noon, $25. S Sciame. #83963

NEW! Wilderness Survival: Cooking
Not all outdoor cooking is done at a barbecue. Come learn how to make something more than s’mores over an open fire. We’ll explore different wilderness cooking methods, depending on available resources, and how to best prepare foods without pots and pans. We’ll also be making lunch, so no need to bring your own. Email the instructor at with any allergies/ food requirements. Please dress for the weather.
CE-SCI 2040, 1 Sat., Nov. 5, 11:00 am-1:00 pm, $25 (+ $7 for food supplies, payable to instructor). S Sciame. #83966

NEW! Colonial Candle Making
Hop in the time machine as we go back to the colonial days and discover how candles were made then. Every participant will have the opportunity to make his own hand-dipped candle to take home. Please dress for the weather.
CE-CRAFT 2055, 1 Sat., Dec. 10, 2:00-4:00 pm, $25 (+ $2 for candle wax and wick, payable to instructor). S Ricker. #83964

NEW! Tree Identification
Come hike the autumn trails of Westmoreland Sanctuary and see the many trees showing off their fall foliage. Pretty fall colors are not all trees give us; come learn more about trees and their leaves. Find out how to use branches, bark, and leaves to identify what trees you are looking at. Please dress for the weather.
CE-SCI 2039, 1 Sat., Oct. 15, 10:00 am-12:00 noon, $25. S Ricker. #83965




NEW! Intro to Beekeeping & Honey Tasting
Check out the exciting world of beekeeping with a visit to a local apiary followed by a tasting of local honeys. Class will begin with a lecture on how to get started in beekeeping and what is involved with caring for a colony of honey bees. Protective bee jackets will be provided. We’ll end up with a tasting of varietal honeys and a discussion of the health benefits associated with honey. This is a great opportunity for anyone who has ever considered beekeeping as a hobby or vocation. Held at John Jay Homestead, Katonah.
CE-SCI 2041, 1 Sat., Sept. 24, 1:00-3:00 pm, $25. D Haverkamp. #83995

NEW! Introduction to Birds
How to identify and attract colorful birds to your backyard. Over 300 species have been seen in Westchester. One classroom session focuses on birding basics, ID techniques for learning the common birds and the best places to go birding. The second session will be a field trip to a local nature center for first-hand practice.
CE-SCI 2013VA, 2 Sat., Oct. 1 & 8, 9:30-11:00 am, KNC-2 (on 10/1), $30 (+ $6 parking fee at Park). H Weber. #80060


NEW! Better Bird Feeding: Attracting Birds to Your Backyard
Learn to identify and attract colorful birds to your backyard; over 300 species have been seen in Westchester. These classroom sessions focus on birding basics, ID techniques for learning the common birds, choosing the best birdfeeders and bird seed, and the best places to go birding.
CE-SCI 2034, 3 Mon., Nov. 7-21, 7:00-8:00 pm, Room TBD, $30. H Weber. #83824



Native Plant

Certificate Program in Sustainable Gardening with Native Plants
GO NATIVE U at Westchester Community College


Discover how to plant and grow a beautiful and beneficial landscape using plants native to the Northeast in this program designed for industry professionals and home gardeners.

Landscape architects, designers, and gardening enthusiasts will learn from experienced instructors about regional ecology and the sustainable practices that can be used to enhance home and community environments.

Students can enroll in single classes or pursue a certificate, which consists of 50 contact hours (18 hours/core courses, 17 hours/electives, and 15 hours/volunteer service) plus a final exam. Most classes offer LA-CES approved credit hours.

 To register for these courses, please call 914-606-6830 and press 1 or register online at

This program is offered through the college’s Native Plant Center, located on the Valhalla campus. All classes are held in the Classroom Building, Room 100, unless otherwise noted.


Core Classes:
Introduction to Native Plants and Landscapes
Gain a comprehensive foundation for garden design using native plants. Learn about the importance of native plants, their benefit to wildlife, showy substitutes for non-native plants, sustainable design concepts, and more. Students will learn to apply basic ecological and design principles to their garden projects. Recommended as a first class to the other courses.
CE-GRDN 2010, 1 Fri., Oct. 14, 10:00 am-5:00 pm (1-hour lunch break), $130. C Summers. #80093

Elective Classes:
NEW! Garden Photography
Using the basic controls of aperture, shutter speed, and focus, learn to see photographically and create more compelling pictures in the garden. Increase your awareness of light on subjects, and take control of the camera to make meaningful photographs. After discussion, class will move outdoors. Bring a camera (no smart phones), and an extra charged battery and memory card or film. A polarizing filter and tripod are recommended.
CE-PHOTO 2021, 1 Sat., Oct. 1, 9:00 am-12:00 noon, $80. J Squillante. #83830

NEW! Insects in the Field: Meadow and Forest Walks
Discover the wide variety of insects and their related kin found in the region in these off-site field walks to a meadow and woodland. Get a fascinating look at the diversity of native and non-native insects in their natural habitats. Dress appropriately for weather and a walk in nature. Class meets on location. Oct. 1 (rain date 10/2): meet at the faculty/staff parking lot for Burke Fields, Hastings-on-Hudson (if there is a game scheduled for that day, park on the street); Oct. 8 (rain date 10/9), meet at the Hillside Park tennis court parking lot, Hastings-on-Hudson.
CE-GRDN 2080, 2 Sat., Oct. 1 & 8, 1:00-3:00 pm, $60. L Forcella. #83826


NEW! Field Walk: Leon Levy Nature Preserve
The 383-acre Leon Levy Preserve in South Salem features wetlands rich in wildlife, 80-foot cliffs, and a diverse hardwood forest. Tour the new 5,000-square foot Native Plant Garden at the preserve and then take a one-hour guided walk along their trails to learn about the area’s natural habitats and the ongoing work to remove invasive plants and encourage the reintroduction and regrowth of natives species. Dress appropriately. Class meets at the Leon Levy Preserve.
CE-GRDN 2081, 1 Tues., Oct. 4, 1:00-3:00 pm, $25. P Pooley and J Nordgren. #83827


NEW! Native Herbals: Their History and Uses
Learn about the history and medicinal uses of our native flora, including goldenrod, spicebush, black birch, and boneset. Students will make their own remedy to take home. Meet at the Native Plant Center Meadow.
CE-GRDN 2082, 1 Thurs., Oct. 6, 6:00-8:00 pm, $55. C Pierson. #83828

NEW! Forest and Shrubland Ecology in the Field
Find out about forest edges and shrub lands and understand how these plant communities relate to one another as you explore forest ecology on location. Learn to identify a wide variety of native tree and shrub species, including some uncommon native plants that are great candidates for the garden. Dress appropriately, including proper footwear for light hiking. Class meets at Muscoot Farm in Somers.
CE-GRDN 2083, 1 Sun., Oct. 16, 1:00-4:00 pm, $80. T Bushell. #83829


NEW! Designing Native Plant Gardens
Learn the basics of landscape design for native plant gardens: how to assess and analyze an existing site, and how to develop a beautiful, beneficial design plan that encourages birds and pollinators and incorporates sustainable design principles.
CE-GRDN 2015, 2 Sat., Oct. 22 & 29, 10:00 am-12:00 noon, $90. L Becker. #83993


Introduction to Insect Identification
Become familiar with the common insects that can be found in a native plant garden and how they relate to the surrounding ecosystem. Learn the basics of invertebrate taxonomy and how to distinguish insects from other arthropods. Examine their habits, life cycles, and habitat preferences.
CE-GRDN 2046, 1 Mon., Nov. 7, 7:00-9:30 pm, $65. L Forcella. #80091

Advanced Insect Identification
Move on to a more in-depth discussion of native insects of the Northeast. Featured species will be discussed in detail, particularly those associated with a healthy hardwood forest. Learn about the region’s ecosystems and how to create habitat niches in your own yard to attract beneficial insects, including native bee species. Pre-requisite: Introduction to Insect Identification.
CE-GRDN 2063, 2 M/T, Nov. 14 & 15, 7:00-9:30 pm, $90. L Forcella. #80092



Back to School with Go Native U
Learn Your Native Plants
Approved for 6 hours of LA-CES credits.
Jump-start your GNU certificate!
Date: Friday, Sept. 30
Location: Classroom Building, Room 100 (Park in Lot #4) 

Native plants are those that occur naturally in a region. They provide valuable sources of food and shelter for wildlife, help protect water quality by filtering pollutants, and create a regional identity, a sense of place. Learn a new palette of plants to use in your garden as well as how to identify native species in the wild.


Native Perennials: Summer/Fall                         10:00 am-12:00 noon
Lunch (on your own)                                              12:00 noon-12:45 pm
Gardening with Native Grasses                           12:45-2:45 pm
Break                                                                           2:45-3:00 pm
Plant Identification in the Field                          3:00-5:00 pm


Native Perennials: Summer/Fall
Discover the many lovely herbaceous plants that will enhance your garden while providing food and shelter for native bees, butterflies, birds, and more.
CE-GRDN 2008, $55. B Fischer. #80090


NEW! Gardening with Native Grasses
Native grasses and sedges can add beauty, depth, and texture to the landscape while providing food and shelter for wildlife. Learn how to plant and use the best of these cold-hardy, low-maintenance plants in a wide variety of settings, from large meadows to native grass gardens and mixed borders.
CE-GRDN 2085, $55. M Hagen. #83992


Plant Identification in the Field
Move outside the classroom to learn how to identify plants using a taxonomic key. Try your skills in the field by exploring the demonstration gardens of The Native Plant Center and the grounds of the college campus. Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide is required.
CE-GRDN 2023, $55. J Schuler. #83587


Register for one, two, or all three courses. Call 914-606-6830, option 1, to register now.

The Go Native U Certificate Program is a collaboration between Westchester Community College and The Native Plant Center. A percentage of tuition supports the work of The Native Plant Center.