Classes - the start of a long, safe collecting career
Whether eating mushrooms or simply studying them, (the science of mycology), it all comes down to mushroom identification. You don’t want to eat a poisonous mushroom! To this end, the Fungus Federation offers beginners’ classes in systematic methods of mushroom identification. Using the field guide Mushrooms Demystified (MD), by David Arora, as the class text, a series of four classes is offered free of charge to Federation members to learn how to identify mushrooms to species. This is important to learn, since only learning mushrooms to genus can result in serious consequences. For example, the genus Amanita contains not only the most deadly mushrooms in the world, but some of the best edibles. You need to know the difference!
Classes are conducted as hands-on workshops where attendees learn how to use MD to identify mushrooms collected in the field under the tutelage of a knowledgeable member. Extensive discussions and helpful tips guide members in developing their own identification skills. Past students have often expressed that taking two or more sessions really builds those skills. Classes are generally held the first and fourth Wednesday evenings of two consecutive months two or three times a season at the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum. Sign-ups are taken from members by email request to the class instructor prior to beginning the sessions.
Workshops - forging a deeper understanding
The workshops that the Federation offers are usually one full day long and cover a multitude of subjects, open to suggestion. Annual workshops are given in beginning or intermediate/advanced microscopy, where hands-on sessions on how to use a microscope for mushroom identification are conducted. Instructors include both knowledgeable members as well as invited professional mycologists.
Other popular workshops have included advanced study of specific genera of mushrooms by invited specialists, microscopic study of different types of fungi (e.g. ascomycetes), or in mushroom cultivation techniques. These workshops are offered at no or minimal charge to members.