Carolina Backyard Naturalist Online

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A free, online course providing a foundation for understanding the biodiversity and ecology of North Carolina.

Backyard Naturalist Logo

Purpose and Description

Increasing urbanization,  habitat loss, climate change, invasive species, water pollution, and other factors threaten the function and viability of ecosystems across North Carolina. Improving residents’ understanding of their natural environment is critical to its protection and enhancement.

The Cooperative Extension Service, in conjunction with other government agencies and universities, presents a 14-week, online webinar series open to anyone interested in learning about the biodiversity, ecosystems, and conservation efforts in North Carolina.

Goals and Objectives of the Program

  • Enhance environmental literacy among participants through theoretical and applied approaches.
  • Increase participant knowledge of essential ecological and biological processes and their impacts to human and environmental health.
  • Participants will have a better understanding of ecosystem connectivity and balance.
  • Connect participants with local resources and volunteer opportunities in order to engage in local, regional, and statewide activism.

Target Audience

All that have an interest in learning about and conserving the biodiversity of North Carolina are welcome.

Webinar Schedule

Click on the topic title of the class for more information.

All webinars are held 6–8 p.m. on the given date.

Interested in knowing when the series will be offered again? Sign-up here to be on the ‘first contact list for the next time registration is open.

Webinar Date (2020)

Introduction to the Backyard Naturalist Program

Sam Marshall & Matt Jones, N.C. Cooperative Extension – Haywood & Chatham County Centers

Climate of North Carolina

Rebecca Ward, NC Climate Office

Sep. 2

Conservation Basics

Dana Miller and Katie Hefner, Haywood Co. Soil & Water Conservation District

Sep. 3

From North Africa, to North America, to North Carolina: The Journey of Our Soils, Their Character, and Their Relevance to Life!

Dr. Jeana Myers, N.C. Cooperative Extension – Wake County Center

Sep. 9

Botany: Plant Systematics, Anatomy, and Physiology

Matt Jones, N.C. Cooperative Extension – Chatham County Center

Sep. 16

Introduction to Ecology and Plant Communities of North Carolina

Dr. Ashley Troth, N.C. Cooperative Extension – Durham County Center

Sep. 23

Introduction to Entomology

Sam Marshall, N.C. Cooperative Extension – Haywood County Center

Sep. 30

Insect Ecology and Plant-Insect Interactions

Sam Marshall, N.C. Cooperative Extension – Haywood County Center

Oct. 7

North Carolina Mammals

Rebecca Skiba, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

Oct. 14

Answering the Call: Using Citizen Science to Learn More About Our Amphibian Neighbors

Andy Gould, N.C. Aquarium at Ft. Fisher

Oct. 21

Reptiles of North Carolina

Jeff Hall and Mike Campbell, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

Oct. 28

All Things Birds: The Basics of Their Biology, Identification, Conservation, and Migration Research

John Gerwin, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences

Nov. 4

Tanya Poole and C.C. King, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

Nov. 18

No class!


Dec. 2

Climate Change: What’s Happening and Why it Matters for NC Nature

Dr. Walt Robinson, NC State University

Dec. 9

Invasive Species

Dr. Zachary Long, UNC Wilmington

Dec. 16


Register online for the 14-week course on Eventbrite.

After registering, an email with a Zoom link and password will be sent prior to each week’s lecture.

For families, households, or groups, one registrant may register multiple participants at once. If more than one person is watching at a single location, input their names so that we can more accurately document participation. If more than five are watching from one registration, email Matt Jones with the demographic information of the participants.


The course is free.

Certificate of Completion

Participants who complete at least 12 webinars and the evaluation assessments will receive a certificate of completion.

Continuation Education Credits

North Carolina Environmental Education Continuing Education credits will be offered.

How to View Online

The course will be conducted as a live webinar via Zoom. See this link for Zoom system requirements.

Participating Agencies

Cooperative Extension logo

NC Wildlife Resources Commission logo
NC State University logo UNCW logo North Carolina Aquarium logo NC Museum of Natural Sciences logo

NC Climate Office logo

For questions, contact Matt Jones or Sam Marshall.