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Advanced EE: Fungi (Taxonomy and Ecology)

  • Monday, September 23, 2019
  • 9:00am - 5:00pm

The Advanced Environmental Education (EE) series of workshops is designed for environmental educators who want to deepen their knowledge of the natural world through interactions with veteran naturalists and natural science experts. This series strives to build a network of like-minded educators and cultivate the next generation of master North Carolina naturalists.

Fungi (Taxonomy and Ecology)

Do you lead hikes at your park or nature center and stumble across fungi that you wish you knew more about? Naturalists and program participants alike are drawn to the beauty and mystery of fungi… but so often, our knowledge only scratches the surface (much like the way a mushroom is only a small part of the larger organism). Take your program to the next level!

Join fungi expert and all-around fun guy, Dr. Van Cotter to increase your knowledge of these amazing organisms. Spend time in the field and classroom learning not only how to identify macrofungi, but also the important role they play in the ecosystem. Walk away with new knowledge to help you take advantage of “mycological” teachable moments.


  • Major fungal groups
  • Identification of macrofungi
  • Ecological roles of fungi
  • Relationships between fungi and plants


Van Cotter is a mycologist focused on fungal taxonomy and ecology including the relationships of fungi, both pathogenic and mutualistic, with plants. Van’s passionate interest in fungi began when he was assistant manager on a fruit tree farm in Michigan watching beautiful cherries succumb to fungal brown rot. Between stints on the fruit farm, he took Introductory Mycology at the University of New Hampshire and his future path studying and working with fungi was set. For his graduate degrees he studied beech bark disease in New England and then boletes (friends of the forest) in Nepal under a Fulbright Grant while receiving a PhD from Virginia Tech. His career in the Crop Protection Industry with American Cyanamid, BASF and FMC in the US and Germany was focused on discovering new materials to control fungal diseases, nematodes and insects. In retirement Van has been active as a volunteer in mycological teaching, research and fungal herbarium curation at Duke, NCSU and UNC. Another current project is working with Nancy Locquet at the Museum of Natural Sciences to develop an exhibit showcasing bioluminescent fungi. Van also serves on Farmer-to-Farmer assignments around the world in mushroom cultivation, crop protection and management of mycorrhizae in forest nurseries. Mentoring youth in mycology is one of his most rewarding current activities.


Email Melissa Dowland with your name, organization, county, and cell phone number.


  • Fee: Free; registration required
  • Requirements: This workshop is specifically designed for environmental education professionals, though all educators are welcome to attend.
  • Program Instructor: Van Cotter
  • Categories: , ,


September 23, 2019
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Free; registration required


In the Field

Historic Yates Mill County Park, Wake County, NC


Melissa Dowland