The Wonderful World of Wetlands

Course Number


Study Group Leader (SGL)

Matt Kamm


This course requires travel to selected sites and outdoor meetings. Please list as one of your course preferences only if you are local to the Boston area. You are responsible for providing your own transportation. The three outdoor sessions will each be 2 hours long. This course consists of a combination of site visits and Zoom sessions. Sessions may be postponed due to weather. The SGL will work with the class to schedule make-up sessions.

5-Week Course

April 1 - May 6. No Class April 22.


Swamps, bogs, and marshes get a bad rap, but these amazing ecosystems offer us insight into the deep connections between water systems and living things. During this five-week course, participants will have the opportunity to get to know a local wetland (Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord), learning the names and lives of the plants and animals who live there and the way human activities have shaped the wetland and vice versa. In addition to learning about one specific wetland, we will explore the ways that wetlands act as natural buffers for pollution and flooding, as well as the history of wetlands management and how contemporary wetlands are managed for the benefit of both people and wildlife. The course will feature three in-person outdoor field trips and two virtual sessions. At the end of the course, participants will be able to recognize and name many native plant and animal species of New England wetlands, as well as explain the “ecosystem services” that healthy wetlands provide to humans and describe the effects of different human activities such as damming, irrigation, and dredging on wetland systems.

NOTE: Students will be responsible for their own transportation to the site inConcord. The outdoor sessions may last up to two hours.   

Group Leadership Style

Roughly the same amount of lecture and discussion.

Course Materials

All materials will be provided to students as scanned PDFs free of charge.

Preparation Time

30 minutes or 10-15 pages of reading.


Matthew Kamm, PhD is a naturalist and educator currently working as the Conservation Outreach Coordinator for Zoo New England’s Field Conservation Department. He received his bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Brandeis, then went on to work for Mass Audubon studying and protecting native birds. He attended Tufts University for his PhD, where he examined the relationship between bird life histories and declining populations with a particular focus on American kestrels. In his current position, he works to survey and safeguard rare plant, reptile, amphibian, and fish populations across Massachusetts, along with teaching educational programs in K-12 schools.