Beyond Tree Identification: Learning the Secrets of Trees With Annie Novak - Atlas Obscura Experiences
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Beyond Tree Identification: Learning the Secrets of Trees With Annie Novak

$80 per person Online Experience
4 sessions
See Dates
$80 per person
$80 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

This course has already started! However, you can still join if you’d like to (and we hope you will!). Students enrolling after the course start date and time will have access to a recording of the first session (which will be emailed to participants within 72 hours) as well as the option to attend remaining sessions live. Please select the “Join Late” ticket type to enroll after the course has begun.

In this four-part lecture series, get to know the trees around you—from learning basic botany and tree identification to performing your own fieldwork.

Course Description

With crowns that rustle above us and a universe of roots that sprawl beneath us, trees and woody plants shape much of the world that we occupy. But just how well do we know them? Join Annie Novak for a four-part tree intensive that moves from basic botany to self-led fieldwork. We’ll learn the fundamentals of tree identification and how to practice local phenology by developing observation skills that go beyond leaf identification to a closer look at vegetative characteristics in every season—preparing for your own independent between-session walks that will feed a deeper understanding of who these woody giants are. By the end of this course, you’ll not only be empowered by an introduction to trees’ evolutionary history, plant families, and botanical function as well as how to follow exciting new science such as tree communication, but you’ll also find yourself engaging with tree-filled spaces around you in an enriched way.

Syllabus At A Glance

There are four total sessions included in this purchase, each lasting for 1.5 hours on four consecutive Mondays beginning September 13.

Session 1 (Monday, 9/13, 6:30–8:00 PM ET): What (and How?!) Is a Tree? Botanical terms, evolutionary development, and plant part functions

Session 2 (Monday, 9/20,6:30–8:00 PM ET): Fundamentals of Identification: Plant parts and understanding the growing environment

Session 3 (Monday, 9/27,6:30–8:00 PM ET): Identification Continued: Honing your skills with tree fruits, bark, flowers, and seeds

Session 4 (Monday, 10/04, 6:30–8:00 PM ET): Lifelong Friends: Trees and the world around us

Between Sessions

Outside of class, students will be encouraged to take on optional activities on their own, including an identification practicum, phenological journaling, and a local exploration of trees in the area.

Course Materials

While there are no materials required to take this course, a loupe is recommended. 

Pricing Options

We currently offer tiered ticket pricing in an effort to increase accessibility for all students, regardless of economic situation. Our lecture series are available at three ticket prices, with a limited number of no-pay spots available for students who could not otherwise participate. This model is intended to support a wider range of students as well as our instructors. To learn more about our tiered sliding scale pricing model, please visit our FAQ page.

Atlas Obscura Online Courses

Our online courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. Courses can take one of two forms: Seminars are intimate, interactive classes—capped at nine to 25 students—exploring topics and crafts through discussion, workshops, assignments, and in-class activities. We also offer lecture series that can be attended live, or viewed via a recording that will be shared within 72 hours after each session airs. Class recordings for lecture series will be available with a temporary password for up to two weeks following the final session of the course.

To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit

For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.

Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to the class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access your course via Zoom on each scheduled date and time.

About Your Instructor
Annie Novak
Annie Novak

Annie Novak is the founder and director of Growing Chefs, field-to-fork food education program; the Manager of the Edible Academy at the New York Botanical Garden, and co-founder and farmer of Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in partnership with Goode Green and Broadway Stages. She is the author of The Rooftop Growing Guide: How to Transform Your Roof into a Garden or Farm, published by Ten Speed Press. 

A passionate educator, Annie teaches locally & nationally, and has spoken at conferences around the country on the connections between people, food and ecology, and the benefits of urban agriculture.

Photo credit: Naima Green

What Else You Should Know

This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording after each session airs. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session airs, we will email all enrolled students a recording of the session, which they can watch using a temporary password for up to ten weeks after the course concludes.

In most cases, instructors will use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Classroom, instructors will be using this platform to post resources, discussion questions, and assignments, when applicable.

We provide closed captioning for all of our courses, as well as transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, requests, or access needs.

Dates and Availability

There are no upcoming experiences at the moment. Fill out the form below to be notified when we add new dates.

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