Hidden Villa will be closed while Summer Camp is in session from June 19 - July 28. Learn more on our 'Visit' page.

Seasonal Cycles Natural History Series

Led by Senior Naturalist, Garth Harwood

About the Natural History Series

Our Seasonal Cycles Natural History Series of classes (SCNHS) is designed to highlight many facets of the natural world that are most readily observed at particular seasons. Understanding the interplay of seasonality with ecology is key to making connections that will transform a collection of discrete facts (knowledge) into something closer to the true, intricately woven patterns of the living world (understanding). We invite you to take this journey with us, in Hidden Villa’s living laboratory.

Classes take place on Saturdays from 10 am -12 pm. A typical format will be 30-40 minutes of formal presentation/discussion, followed by a field experience. Significant format exceptions will be noted in the class descriptions. All classes will begin at Hidden Villa’s Wolken Education Center unless otherwise noted in the class description.

SCNHS classes may be taken singly or in any combination. Many of them will likely repeat in future seasons as natural cycles repeat themselves. However, to get the most out of the series it is suggested that participants register for multiple classes across the seasons of a single year. Discounts are available for those who sign up for 4 or more classes, which need not be consecutive. It is also suggested that participants choose at least one topic that does not sound as intuitively appealing at first glance. It is often that ‘blind spot’ that has the most to offer in terms of growing one’s awareness.

About our Senior Naturalist

Garth Harwood served as Director of Education at Hidden Villa for many years, visiting schools and directing field experiences for over 20,000 elementary-school students in a typical year, in addition to providing training to young-adult interns and adult volunteers. He holds graduate degrees in Experiential Education and Restoration Ecology from the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he also served as an instructor of classes in Environmental Studies and Human Physiology.

Just as impactful as his formal educational experiences, however, Garth has been mentored by Jon Young, a protege of famed tracker Tom Brown, and more than one Native Californian tribal elder along the way.

An accomplished naturalist, birder, and wildlife tracker, Garth participates in numerous community-science projects such as iNaturalist and eBird. He serves as a volunteer organizer for the Bay Area Tracking Club, and holds a Level 3 Tracker Certification from Cybertracker International. He was recognized in 2011 as Northern California’s “Environmental Educator of the Year” by the Association of Environmental and Outdoor Educators.

His inner child is a 4th grader, however, and he remembers how to play. A favorite endorsement from one young, urban, Latinx student read “You are a kid like us.”


Insects: Friends with Benefits – April 22 or May 13

Insects are our friends and are essential to human life. Benefits to humanity include critical ecosystem services such as pollination, decomposition, and sustenance for birds and amphibians.

Learn More

Birds and their Nests – April 29

Late April is an especially fun time to pay special attention to birds. Most local species will be at their showiest, singing their hearts out, defending territories, constructing nests, or perhaps already tending to their nestlings.

Learn More

Meet the Herptiles: Reptiles, Amphibians, and more – May 27

Celebrate herptiles – their beauty, strange adaptations, and their beneficial roles. Slides and taxidermied specimens will prepare you for a rare glimpse.

Learn More

The Ways of Wildflowers – May 20

Join us to investigate the evolutionary origin of flowers, their ecological importance, the various tricks they play on us animals, and of course – to admire them up close.

Learn More

Roots & Shoots: What’s going on beyond our view? – June 3

Join us to delve into those mysterious functions and processes of roots and shoots, and watch some of them in action on the farm and in the forest.

Learn More

Seasonal Cycles Natural History Series Bundle

Register for a bundle of 4 classes and receive the discounted price of $100. The registrant can attend up to 4 classes of their choice and receive a discount price.

Learn More