Summer 2023 Workshops

We are excited to announce the first of our scheduled workshops for this summer! As we get closer to summer we will be adding new workshops, so be sure to follow us on social media and sign up for the Station newsletter HERE.

Summer workshops at Highlands Biological Station are:

  • Great for beginning and advanced students- most have no pre-requisites
  • Hands on and engaging
  • Taught by expert instructors from a variety of backgrounds
  • Designed for adult learners

Click the button below to go to our registration form.

HBS Oconee Bells 2023: March 19, 2023

10:00 AM-6:00 PM

Dr. Jim Costa and Mr. Charlie Williams

Benefitting the Highlands Botanical Gardens @ Highlands Biological Station

A day of exploration learning about the ecology and curious history of the “lost and found” Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia), and seeing some of the largest remaining populations of this rarity at peak bloom in its native habitat!! 

Following an overview of the French Royal Botanist André Michaux’s life and career (including why he came to Highlands in 1787) and the story of Michaux’s “Lost Shortia” by HBS executive director Jim Costa and Michaux scholar Charlie Williams, we’ll drive one hour [transportation provided, own vehicle optional] to Devil’s Fork State Park on Lake Jocassee for a leisurely hike on the Oconee Bells Nature Trail where we will see large populations of the fabulous Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia), followed by a 3 h pontoon boat trip with Jocassee Lake Tours to see little known, remote populations of the Shortia at peak bloom in its native habitat!  Along the way we will visit beautiful and remote waterfalls and coves of Lake Jocassee, learn about the history of the lake, and keep an eye out for wildlife and other early-blooming wildflowers. 

Cost: $200.00 (Lecture, transportation to Devils Fork State Park and 3 hour Shortia expedition on Lake Jocassee)


Ocean Crust in the Mountains?

HBS Buck Creek Serpentine Barrens Tour: May 18, 2023

10:00 AM-3:30 PM

Join us to explore the remarkable geology and natural history of one of eastern North America’s largest serpentine barrents, located in nearby Clay County, NC! 

Dr. Kathy Mathews, Dept. of Biology, Western Carolina University

Dr. Jim Costa, Dept. of Biology, Western Carolina University

 Benefiting the Highlands Botanical Gardens @ Highlands Biological Station

 Did you know… There are bits of oceanic crust embedded here in the mountains?  

One of the rarest and most unusual of the biological communities found in biologically rich western North Carolina is our Serpentine Barrens — unique “island” habitats formed by the weathering of olivine and serpentine rock.  Such rocks have their origin in deep-sea sediments, dating to a time when western North Carolina was coastal!  Squeezed, heated, and uplifted by the inexorable tectonic forces that built the southern Appalachians over millions of years, the unique soils formed from olivine, serpentine, and associated minerals create remarkable “mountain savannas” of hardy native grasses and pines, dotted with a host of unusual and rare plants including species more commonly found in the prairies of the central US and endemic species & varieties that grow nowhere else.  Join botanist Kathy Mathews and entomologist/ecologist Jim Costa for this rare opportunity to explore the 300+ acre Buck Creek Serpentine Barren, one of the largest serpentine sites in eastern North America, and learn about the amazing geology, botany, and natural history of this unique site while benefiting the HBS Botanical Gardens!

Cost: $100  (Lecture, transportation to the serpentine barrens, and 3 hour expedition in the barrens to see the unusual plants and geology firsthand)


Heathlands of the Highlands Plateau

Friday, 30 June 2023, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Dr. Paul Manos, Duke University

Benefiting the Highlands Botanical Gardens @ Highlands Biological Station

Rhododendron! Blueberry! …And dog hobble, mountain laurel, huckleberry, trailing arbutus and more favorites. The Highlands Plateau is home to an exceptional array of flowering plants in the heath family. Join Professor Paul Manos (Department of Biology, Duke University and current Chair, HBS Board of Directors) for a stroll to Sunset Rock where we’ll explore the diversity and discuss how it sorts out along an ecological transect from forest to rock outcrop. We’ll see about 20 species in the field. And after lunch, you’re invited to a bonus lab session to review and look at some of the plants more closely.

The morning session starts at 10 AM and lasts about 2 hours; afternoon lab is optional. Meet in front of the Highlands Nature Center. Bring your lunch and some water.

Cost: $50


Mushrooms of the Carolinas and the Southern Appalachian Region: July 17-21

Alan and Arleen Bessette

Registration for this workshop is CLOSED.

This workshop will focus on the mycological diversity of North & South Carolina, and the Southern Appalachian Region.

Activities will consist of lectures/presentations on topics such as (but not limited to): Identification Techniques, Major Groups of Fungi, Ecology, Edibility & Toxicity; daily field work (forays); and laboratory/class activities where participants will be introduced to the use of field keys, microscopy, documentary photographic techniques, and more.

Designed for beginners wanting a solid introduction to mycology, and for more advanced individuals wishing to pursue their personal mycological interests, this workshop facilitates learning in a relaxed group setting in a unique and mycologically rich area.

Cost: $500 course fee + $300 housing fee (strongly encouraged)