The Swamp School is pleased to announce that it will be offering an online workshop on the identification and delineation of wetlands that is applicable to the international community.
Wetlands play a vital role in our global economy. Wetlands serve as both water storage and water filtration systems that are critical to national health. In addition, they also serve as a unique habitat to many endangered and unique plant and animal species.
Recognizing wetlands is a technical challenge. However, from a scientific viewpoint wetlands across the world retain consistent features that with some training can be easy to identify. Water is the major reason why a wetland is present. However, we are not always fortunate enough to observe water when investigating a site. We look for specific indicators of water presence that can be identified and quantified in a scientific process.
Wetland soil and wetland vegetation are present in response to the water. Hydric soils develop when the water is present long enough for the wetland soil features to develop. Similarly, wetland vegetation will appear when the water is present long enough to allow wetland plants to out populate the non-wetland plants.
The Swamp School has developed a procedure for recognizing and delineating wetlands no matter where you are located. We examine wetland soils, vegetation and hydrology in systematic way that ensures accurate results. While the specific species of vegetation and hydric soils will vary from location to location, the process for identifying these in the field remains the same. Water does not give us quite the same field challenges, but it does remain consistent with the presence of hydric soils and vegetation.
Our online program is offered over the span of 12 weeks. Each week we will examine a different aspect of wetland identification and how to extrapolate the concepts to your local environment. We will discuss how to develop a wetland plant list, how to identify hydric soil features and what water features you should be looking for.
Finally, we will conclude the class with a field workshop. This is your opportunity to get outside and collect wetland field data. This data will be sent to us via our online student portfolio. We will review and discuss with you your data and your conclusions.
No out of area travel is required! The entire program is offered online and provides the ability for the teachers and students to interact no matter the location. There is no software to download. The workshop is cloud based so all you need is a computer with a somewhat reliable internet connection and a web browser (i.e. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.). You can access the class from any library, café, or friend’s computer without the need to download anything to the computer. The workshop also works on smartphones and tablets. Our cloud server is encrypted with multi-level security features that enable you to send and receive data without any fear of data loss due to hacks and similar intrusions.
The field work is done by you in an instructor guided format. We have prepared field videos of the procedure. You simply follow the procedure and send us your data and pictures.
We do not require that you log into the site at any particular time. All of the presentations are pre-recorded so that you may watch them at any time. We do have weekly submission requirements and classroom discussions, but these are also on-demand. You just have to finish them at some time during the week.
Our wetland program is consistent with the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. In fact, we will devote a significant portion of the class on this topic. We are also current and consistent with the latest US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US EPA wetland definitions and technical procedures. Our program is also aligned with the Canadian Wildlife Service, Wetlands International, and may other international wetland programs.
You will need some basic field supplies that you will need to acquire for the class.
• A soil color chart using the Munsell Color System
• Soil auger or shovel
• Digital camera (A smart phone works fine)
• Plant identification field guides
• Tape measure or yard (meter) stick
You will also need the ability to scan and send documents and pictures to your portfolio.
A good science background is helpful. You do not necessarily need a science degree, but a good understanding of the scientific process is helpful.
Plant identification can prove to be a challenge for some. It may be helpful to seek some local expertise to aid you in getting started. Oftentimes local nature centers offer plant walks that can be extremely helpful if you are new to plant identification.
The workshop will be offered in English. Look for future updates for additional languages offered.
If you have any questions, please send us an email to: [email protected] I hope you will be able to join us for an informative, interactive and fun wetland adventure!