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For the Birds: An Introduction to Birdwatching
Do you wish you knew the names of the birds in your backyard? Or the birds you see while hiking? More than a hobby, birding connects you with nature in a fun and inexpensive way. Whether you’re a backpacker or someone who prefers relaxing on the back porch, this beginning birding class can enrich your outdoor experiences. Birding is also a fun way to meet other people who spend time appreciating our feathered friends. Conservationist, author, and educator Sandy Masuo will share natural history and information about birds, techniques for birdwatching, and field guides. Learn how to identify birds using field marks, songs, and behavior. Plus you’ll discover ways you can get more involved in the birding community. (Optional workshop component: join the instructor for a brief bird walk on grounds or at a local park. Advance notice required sufficient for making a park selection.)

Succulent Superstars
With water conservation in mind, succulents and cacti are more popular than ever. Low maintenance and versatile, they are available everywhere–from specialty websites to supermarkets. But low maintenance is not the same as no maintenance, and some succulents can be as fussy as the most temperamental orchid or fern. Author, educator, and self-confessed plant nerd Sandy Masuo provides some fascinating natural history background about these unique plants as well as basic cultivation information to help you know and grow succulents, and hopefully inspire you to explore this remarkable group of plants. (Optional workshop component: creating a succulent planter—cuttings and soil provided; students bring one planter with drainage holes, 10-inches maximum.)


Sex in the Garden: The Dirt on Plant Reproduction

Birds do it... Bees do it... But it’s because plants do it that every other living organism on our planet is able to. Join author, educator, plant nerd, and garden voyeur Sandy Masuo for a peek into the world of plant reproduction. Learn about selfing, cloning, and threesomes with pollinators (in both exclusive and open relationships). You’ll never look at flowers the same way again!


Weird and Wonderful: Oddities of the Plant World

Once upon a time, "weird" referred the supernatural—anything eerie, fantastic, or mysterious. Today, it still connotes the unconventional. Plants are conventionally perceived as passive organisms that serve human culture by being decorative and/or productive. But nature is rife with weird plants that defy this concept. Some upend the natural order by eating animals. Others are parasites or produce treacherous narcotics. Most survive by manipulating animals (including humans) for their own purposes. These botanical rebels help to demonstrate that all plants are wonderfully weird.

Rooted in History: Stories from The Huntington

The plant collections at The Huntington are rooted in stories—sagas of inspired plant collectors, of agriculture and agronomy, of the deft manipulation of plant DNA over centuries, of strange and wondrous evolutionary adaptations, and plants employed as elements in time-honored landscape narratives. Complementing the living history that fills the gardens are scientific works from the Library collections that chronicle the evolution of botany and horticulture as well as the natural and cultural histories of the plants that surround us in The Huntington Gardens. Sandy Masuo is the senior writer in The Huntington’s Office of Communications and Marketing and has shared the remarkable tales of many a plant as a contributor to the weekly blog, Verso. She is also a popular presenter and has given talks for various plant societies and garden clubs. Join her for a stroll through the pages of noteworthy books that will make the gardens bloom anew.


Botanical Bedfellows: The Pollinators

In recent years, growing concern has focused on the survival of pollinators, particularly honeybees, which are important to many commercial crops. But the 400-plus other bee species that are native to California are also vital pollinators—and they are only part of the story of plant reproduction and biodiversity. Plants rely on pollinators to produce fertile seeds and other animals—often birds—to disperse their seeds. Though butterflies are often grouped with pollinators, their role in this survival saga is more indirect. Learn about the beautiful and complex botanical connections between bees, birds, and butterflies.

Talkin’ Trash: Extracting Plastic from your Life

Plastic pollution is one of our most pressing environmental concerns. Recent changes in the recycling market mean that more of our “recyclables” are ending up in landfill at best and in our oceans at worst. The answer lies in reducing the trash (especially plastic) we produce. Learn more about this issue and how you can make changes to reduce your trash output! Conservationist, author, and educator Sandy Masuo shares some insights and products to help you lighten your trash load! (Optional workshop component: making DIY toothpaste, lotion, or deodorant—requires materials fee.)

The Write Stuff: Basic Skills for Effective Prose
Stories are the essence of what makes us human. Through them we share experiences, learn new perspectives, and explore the world around us. With this four-part course, we will delve into writing basics—generating ideas, structuring narrative (fiction and non-fiction), crafting prose, and the revision process. Each evening includes a brief lecture, in class writing exercises and discussions. This workshop will leave you with a firm grasp on the essentials of crafting a compelling story. The goal is to lead you to a finished piece by the end of the workshop. This course requires about one hour outside of class time working on assignments. Sandy Masuo served as a staff editor and writer for a variety of entertainment magazines for more than 15 years. She was a columnist for the Boston Phoenix and a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times Calendar. In addition to her writing credentials, she holds a Master's Degree in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Writing for Business: Basic Skills for Effective Professional Communication
You don’t need to be a professional writer to write professionally. In fact, solid writing skills are an essential for success in business, whether you are tackling cover letters, proposals, reports, PowerPoint presentations, or memos. This course will help you build your word power, whether you are looking for new work opportunities or want to add more umph to your current vocation. Learn how to cultivate an “action vocabulary” that conveys your ideas with conviction and clarity. Proper grammar, spelling, and syntax are also critical in a professional setting, and we will cover valuable tips and pointers for avoiding common mistakes that can detract from your presentation. In addition to in-class exercises, there will be a limited number of homework assignments. Come to class prepared to share your goals and objectives. Sandy Masuo served as a staff editor and writer for a variety of entertainment magazines for more than 15 years. She was a columnist for the Boston Phoenix and a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times Calendar. In addition to her writing credentials, she holds a Master's Degree in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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