The best way to form a fantastic, lifelong relationship with the natural landscape is to first learn to identify natural hazards, and form best practices for outdoor adventures.
Click here for a printable PDF of our Safety Sheet for budding naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts.
Check out Poison-Ivy.org for excellent, interactive resources for learning to identify three of the most common (and extremely irritating!) skin irritants in North America.
Did you know your phone can now help you ID plants, animals, and fungi? Several apps have been developed using reverse image search technology, so all you need to do is snap a legible photo with your phone, and the app will compare it with a huge database of known species images to make an educated guess. We do not endorse one particular app over another, but we do think it’s a cool and useful tool to have in your pocket! Note: An app can NOT make a conclusive ID for the purposes of consuming or using a plant or fungi. It is just a guess, and cannot replace ID by taxonomic key and/or experts.
Taxonomic ID Guides Online
We offer a selection of comprehensive and portable guides in our shop for folks who work better with tangible learning materials, but there are many great online resources to use as well.
http://mushroomexpert.com/ - An extremely thorough and thoughtfully designed site, with information on how to collect mushrooms for ID, how to take spore prints, more than 1200 species descriptions of North American mushrooms, and much more. Site author Michael Kuo is also author of 100 Edible Mushrooms, which we love.
The Bolete Filter - A bolete-specific mushroom ID tool from the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club that does not require advanced level knowledge to use. A very cool resource, but best used on a desktop rather than a mobile device.
What tree is that? Online - A digital dichotomous key for tree identification designed to be used by novices, as in terms are illustrated and fairly clearly defined step by step.
Go Botany - Very comprehensive ID guide for New England plants of every sort. Includes thorough explanations of terms, but does require a bit more knowledge and patience to navigate.
What Bird? - A user-friendly tool for bird identification that allows you to input what you know about a bird without having to go through a step-by-step key. Each input narrows down your list of contenders, but if you didn’t see the bird for long enough to tell what directions its toes were pointing, that’s a-okay.
Local (to you!) Expertise
The best place to start a practice of nature exploration and especially identification is in-person with your local experts. Whom you can reach out to depends on where you live and where your interests lie, but most regions have a:
Cooperative Extension Office
Audubon Society Chapter
Master Gardener Program
Local (to the Hudson Valley) Resources
Wild Hudson Valley - Nature education and experiences on ninety five acres of diverse forest, meadow and wetland.
Mushroom Shed - an experimental laboratory for community mushroom education, an incubator for cultivating connections and community ideas, and for bringing people together in a non-hierarchical learning space.
Fungal Diversity Survey - Contribute to a vitally important body of knowledge about fungal diversity! Your mushroom walks (or even walks around your neighborhood) can help researchers and conservationists by providing them with much-needed data. All you need is a smart phone!
Fantastic Fungi Film - "Fantastic Fungi is a consciousness-shifting film about the mycelium network that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet."
Fantastic Fungi Virtual Mushroom Cookbook - Discover (and contribute!) amazing mushroom recipes with this open-source online cookbook
Telluride Mushroom Festival - "Since 1981, the Telluride Mushroom Festival has been celebrating all things mycological, from the newest advancements in mushroom science to our famous mushroom cook-off. Held annually in Telluride, Colorado, the festival capital of the Rockies, TMF is a can’t miss event with a colorful history in one of the most beautiful locations on earth."
Radical Mycology Convergence - Annual bi-coastal meet-up of hundreds of mycologists and mycophiles with classes, workshops, art, exchange, and celebration.
Other Naturalist Resources
Botanical drawing courses from renowned artist Wendy Hollander are now available online! There are offerings for adults and also for kids wanting to explore and learn the art of botanical illustration.