People young and old, from the city and the suburbs, met at a designated picnic area in a nearby state park. On a sunny autumn afternoon, we walked a trail looking for mushrooms, learning quickly to look around fallen rotting logs.
As each of us sited a mushroom, the rest circled around our guide as she identified each finding and added to her basket. We learned which were edible, which were introduced to our region, which had a relationship to a specific type of tree, and more.
At the end of the two hour walk, we emptied baskets onto a picnic table. It was quite a view of the citizen scientists as the volunteer team settled into writing Latin names while sorting each species onto a paper plate. The team checked in with each other, and also online sources. There was quite a buzz as newbies like us learned from the friendly and enthusiastic volunteers sharing their local fungal knowledge.
An employee of the state park stopped by, reminding us that it was National Bat Week; that bats eat 1200 mosquitos in an hour; and the importance of inviting bats to our own pesticide-free properties via bat houses.
All in all, an invigorating afternoon, followed by tasty mushroom appetizers before dinner!
Do watch Fantastic Fungi on Netflix, and join / fund the Philadelphia Mycology Club, the group that organized our walk.