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West Virginia Master Naturalist Class Description

Objectives:  Explore the structure, classification, and ecology of the larger fungi.  Learn how to safely collect for eating and how to properly collect for study.
Class type: Elective
Time: 2-3 hours
Optimal season: Summer, fall
Materials: Basket, knife, waxed paper roll or bags, camera, hand lens, notebook, field guides, and if possible a 400x microscope and food dehydrator
Expected outcomes: The student will gain a basic understanding of
  1. terms for describing mushrooms and their life histories.
  2. some of the ways fungi are related to other organisms in their environment.
  3. how to safely collect and prepare wild mushrooms for the dining table.
  4. how to properly collect fungi for scientific study, what kinds of notes to take at the time of collecting, and how to permanently preserve specimens.
  5. how to approach further study, including helpful references and organizations.

West Virginia Master Naturalist Class Outline

Time: 2-3 hours
  1. What is a mushroom?
    1. Mushroom versus toadstool
    2. Kingdom Fungi
    3. Lichens
  2. The organism
    1. Spores
    2. Mycelium
    3. "Fruiting bodies" mushrooms, etc.
    4. Overwintering as seeds, underground parts, winter annuals, woody stems)
  3. Classification
    1. Ascomycetes and Basidiomycetes
    2. Convenient (and sometimes artificial) groups: gilled, toothed, boletes, polypores, cups, corals, etc.
  4. Ecology
    1. Decomposers and parasites
    2. Mycorrhizae
    3. Food for wildlife and humans
  5. How to collect mushrooms
    1. For food precautions, cooking, preserving
    2. For study complete specimens, notes, preserving (drying)
    3. The West Virginia. fungus collection, Davis & Elkins College Herbarium
  6. How to learn more
    1. Books
    2. Mushroom: The Journal of Wild Mushrooming
    3. NAMA, West Virginia Mushroom Club, and other organizations



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