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2023 Field Courses

student holds a scope up to a branch to observe lichens

"Hands-on" doesn't fully capture the type of learning that happens up north. Itasca is a living laboratory and learning community. Students come up north for a truly immersive experience. 

You won’t just learn what mammologists (people who study mammals), mycologists (people who study fungi), or animal behaviorists (that one is easy to guess) do… you’ll do what they do on a daily basis. You’ll set traps, key out samples, and design experiments, all with the guidance of supportive faculty mentors and peers.

Have questions about the experience up north? Attend the Information Session on February 16 at 6pm. You can join online (Join via Zoom) or in-person at 105 Cargill on Saint Paul Campus. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to email


  • Registration opens for UMN students February 23
  • Registration opens for non-UMN students March 2 (Learn how to register)

2023 Field Courses

  • PMB 3812/5812: Field Mycology

    3 credits | May 15 - June 2, 2023 | M, Tu, Th, F | 1 - 4:50 p.m.

    This class focuses on learning about how to study fungi. Students will gain experience identifying mushrooms and other samples collected during course field trips using macromorphological, microscopic, and molecular techniques. In addition, students will isolate fungi from environmental samples and maintain cultures as well as assess fungal community abundance and composition using both traditional (e.g. root tip colonization) and DNA-based methods (e.g. next-generation sequencing, bioinformatics, and ecological statistics). Course lectures highlight different aspects of fungal diversity (taxonomic, physiological, and ecological) and lab exercises provide hands-on practice. Course writing assignments and presentations emphasize the exploring the natural history of fungi as well as critically assessing primary research literature.

    Instructors: Professors Jonathan Schilling ( and Peter Kennedy (

    For a more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor. Permission is required for undergraduates to enroll in the graduate-level of this course (PMB 5812); inquire with the instructor.

  • EEB 4844: Field Ornithology

    3 credits | May 15 - June 2, 2023 | M, Tu, W, Th, F | 5:30 - 11:30 a.m.


    This class focuses on developing basic field ornithology skills, complemented by analyses of collected data. Students will learn field identification skills, focused on the diversity of northern Minnesota. They will learn and practice mist-netting, bird banding, point counts, and territory mapping to quantify community composition, density, behavior, and long term population trends. A diversity of habitats will be explored by day trips to nearby field sites. Collected data will be analyzed using statistical and GIS methods. A field journal, lab reports, and field exams will form the basis of assessment.

    Instructor: Fred Beaudry (

    For a more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor.

  • EEB 3811W: Animal Behavior

    4 credits | May 15 - June 15, 2023 | M, Th; full-day + 2 additional field days TBD

    This course introduces the principle concept of animal behavior through hypothesis-driven inquiry of animal systems in the field. Topics covered: proximate and ultimate causation of behavior, optimality, foraging, habitat selection, risk-sensitive behavior, antipredator behavior, courtship and territoriality, parental care and implications of animal behavior for resource management and conservation. Most class days begin with the introduction of a topic followed by a day-long field experiment involving the concept. Thus, students learn concepts in animal behavior and how to be an animal behaviorist. In the process, students acquire skills in data collection and management, and experimental design (controls, replication, conclusions based upon statistical inference, connecting class results to the primary literature).

    Instructor: Professor Brian Wisenden (

    For a more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor.

  • EEB 4839: Field Mammalogy

    4 credits | May 16 - June 16, 2023 | Tu, F; full-day + 2 additional days TBD

    The primary goal of this course is to introduce students to the study of mammals, including aspects of their evolution, natural history, identification, and techniques used for scientific study. This course will enable students to integrate concepts of ecology, morphology, physiology, as well as other aspects of natural history using mammals as model organisms. This course will supplement knowledge of taxonomy, phylogeny, and ecology while providing practical experience with current methodology. Writing assignments will expose students to current literature and aid in the process of critical thinking.

    Instructor: Professor Joseph Whittaker (

    For a more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor.

2023 Course Costs*

Room & Board (students incur one room & board charge regardless of concurrent registration in multiple Itasca courses)

  • 3-week courses — $796  
  • 5-week courses — $1344  

Tuition & Fees 

  • UMN Tuition — Check the OneStop tuition page to determine your UMN tuition rate
  • Registration fees — Check the OneStop fees page for other UMN registration fees
  • Transportation fee — $50 (per course)
  • Lab materials fee — $88 (per course)

*Scholarships are available to students to cover the costs of Itasca field biology courses. 

COVID-19 Statement

As a University of Minnesota field station, we follow all University COVID-19 policies as it relates to housing, dining and classrooms. All University of Minnesota students enrolled online or in person (including all undergraduate, graduate, professional, and Post Secondary Enrollment Option) were asked to complete this Student COVID-19 Immunization Vaccination Form by Oct. 8, 2021. We anticipate formal guidance for the summer 2022 courses to come in the spring of 2022.

IBSL staff will continue to be in close contact with Collegiate and University leadership to ensure the safety of students and faculty during field courses. If you have any specific questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to email