Herpetology:  The cold-blooded but totally cool world of reptiles and amphibians
14th Annual Methow Conservation Course

Register Now!  Updated course schedule and details below.
Mondays, February 12 & 26, and March 5 & 12, 6-8pm at the Winthrop Barn
Plus, two field sessions, April 8 and May 12

Jenn Zajac
Spadefoot Toad Photo by Jenn Zajac

Animals that slither, slide, creep and crawl are the focus of the 2018 “Methow Conservation Course.” Sound scary? Nah! Cold blooded sure, but they’re far more fascinating than scary. We’re talking about amphibians and reptiles - snakes, salamanders, frogs, toads, turtles and lizards - or “herps.”

From slimy to scaly, scurrying to slithering, aquatic to dry desert, egg layers to live birthers, deadly poisonous to downright cute – reptiles and amphibians are as diverse as they are cool. There are over 6,700 species of amphibians and over 9,000 species of reptiles in the world, and while we’ll only focus on a large handful of them, we will dive deep into learning about species both from the Methow and in other areas of Washington, as well as a few very interesting herps from around the globe.

We’ve been working hard to plan an engaging and educational course that connects you to the herpetology world of the Methow (and beyond), but also listens to your needs.  With spring approaching, and feedback from interested participants, the course has been updated to reflect less time indoors and more time outside!  There will now be four indoor classes, with no class on Presidents’ Day, and two field sessions.  Plus, we even reduced the price to $140 since we reduced the indoor sessions. 

Course Dates & Instructors:

  • February 12: Herpetology overview including WA species, and live animals with Dr. Dan Beck
  • No class Feb 19
  • February 26: Methow reptiles plus info on unique reptile populations in WA with Scott Fitkin
  • March 5: Methow amphibians and details from past local amphibian surveys with Julie Grialou, plus amphibian disease issues with Jenn Zajac
  • March 12: Intro to rattlesnakes with a focus on research and management for our Northern Pacific Rattlesnake with John Rohrer
  • Sunday April 8: Amphibian Survey training lead by Julie Grialou, includes a morning of indoor information then learning how to survey ponds outside.  Two surveys are on your own time will need to be done in April and May.
  • Saturday May 12:  Methow Snake Search with biologist John Rohrer and Scott Fitkin is tentatively scheduled for May 12, pending sunny warm weather, which is necessary for finding snakes. 

With well-known scientist-instructors including Professor Dan Beck, and biologists John Rohrer, Scott Fitkin, Julie Grialou and Jenn Zajac, the course will remind you of a college-level seminar, with engaging lectures, optional reading materials, discussion amongst your peers, and a small class size.  We’ll even have live animals, including a Gila Monster!  The course also includes two field sessions – an amphibian survey training, and a snake search, both with professional instructors.

On Sunday April 8th, Julie Grialou will lead a training for our “Amphibian Survey” citizen science project.  Surveys of Methow ponds and wetlands will occur on your own schedule from mid-April to late-May.  Most people work in small groups of 2-3 people, though working alone is an option, and pick one to three areas to survey.  We’ll work with you to choose your areas.  Herpetology Course participants will be given priority in signing up for this citizen science project and it’s included in the course fee.  If more volunteers are needed, non-course people will be allowed to register for a small fee.  

On a mid-May weekend day (we need warm, sunny weather!), the snake guru duo of John Rohrer & Scott Fitkin will lead us on search for Methow snakes, including a safe way to view and learn about rattlesnakes.  We’ve tentatively set this for Saturday May 12.

Tuition is $140* and registration is open now.  Need-based scholarships, in the form of a reduced or waived fee, are available to a limited number of people who are able to help with the course, such as taking notes, and set-up and clean-up.  Contact Mary at mary@methowconservancy.org or 509-996-2870 for questions about the course or to register.

You can also follow along with weekly notes and a videoed class session on our blog.  Stay tuned to the blog starting shortly after the first class.

Short Syllabus
Full Syllabus with links
Course Documents

*Our Cancellation and Refund Policy
If you cancel or leave a fee-based course for any reason:
Full refunds will be given if the request is received two weeks or more before the day of the program (class, workshop, field trip, etc.).  If the cancellation is made less than two weeks before the start of the program, the Methow Conservancy will give a full refund only if we are able to fill your spot.  If you cancel 24 hours or less before the start time of the program or after the class has started there will be no refund of the program fee.  Although we rarely need to do so, we reserve the right to cancel a program.  In this case you will receive a full refund.
315 Riverside Avenue / PO Box 71    Winthrop, WA 98862     509.996.2870