Sustainability & Nature Lecture Series invites adult learners to explore art and ecology in new ways this summer

From honey tasting to the art of bonsai, there’s something for everyone in this year’s lineup.

An instructor works with two adult students in a garden with a greenhouse in the background.

This summer, Interlochen Center for the Arts once again invites the local community to expand their creative horizons through the Sustainability & Nature Lecture Series. Twelve thought-provoking programs allow adult learners to interact with the local environment through an artistic and ecological lens.

The diverse lineup ranges from watercolor painting and bonsai workshops to honey tastings and mushroom foraging seminars. Emily Umbarger, Interlochen's Director of Sustainability, carefully curates each year's offerings based on community interests.

"Our goal is to inspire participants to explore nature and sustainability in new ways," says Umbarger. "Whether you’re learning about native plants, experimenting with botanical printmaking, or observing local butterflies, these programs make learning about the natural world fun and engaging."

Kicking off on June 12th with a watercolor class taught by artist Wendy McWhorter, the series explores creative disciplines like painting and printmaking. A program focused on the ancient art of bonsai allows participants to take home their own bonsai starter, plus a pot and expert instructions for creating their own mini masterpiece. Nature enthusiasts can attend lectures on topics like invasive species, wildflower habitats, shoreline plants, and the butterflies of Northwest Michigan.

A special highlight is the two honey tasting events led by local beekeepers Janna Urbasic and Jon Willow, diving into the flavors and culinary uses of domestic and international honey varietals. Other hands-on workshops cover insect preservation techniques and the use of biochar, a charcoal-like substance used since ancient times to enhance soil health.

"We strive to cover both artistic expression and environmental education in our summer offerings," says Umbarger. "Our lectures are a great chance to build community with like-minded individuals who are passionate about the natural world.” 

Programs are held Wednesday evenings from 6-8 p.m. at Interlochen's R.B. Annis Botanical Lab (the printmaking and wild mushroom classes also have Thursday lectures). Sustainability & Nature Lectures are $20, while honey tasting programs require a $35 registration fee and the Bonsai program is $40. Pre-registration is required.

Get more details on the lectures being offered and sign up for your favorites here.