Field-Course Recap: Mushrooms of the West Coast 2014

Last weekend's Mushrooms of the West Coast course was a success despite the stormy weather! The mushroom festivities started off on Thursday night with the public event Featuring Fungi, which included a presentation by Andy MacKinnon, a screening of the documentary Know your Mushrooms and mushroom-based snacks from Picnic Charcuterie. 

Apparently Tofino loves mushrooms, because the Ecolodge classroom was packed on Thursday night!

On Friday evening, instructors Andy MacKinnon and Shannon Berch introduced the 20+ participants to the ecological roles of fungi, the main groups of fungi, and the basics of fungi identification. The evening ended with a pop quiz, in which we each had to inspect a mushroom sample and decide which major group it fit into.

After Saturday's breakfast at the Ecolodge, we convoyed to our first collection spot. The plan was to only collect 5 samples each, but that was a difficult task.

We found a huge diversity of mushrooms during fungi collection & field-identification sessions.

Collecting baskets were full of a diversity of unidentified fungi by the time we reconvened, ate our RedCan Gourmet sandwiches, and headed back to the classroom to inspect our samples. Samples were wrapped individually and taken back to the classroom lab.

Here are our two youngest participants discussing fungi with Shannon Berch.

Shannon Berch intruducing participants to fungi Identification keys and techniques.

A table-full of Bird's Nest fungi awaits inspection.

Cordyceps fungi parisitising a Deer Truffle.

Jellied Bird's Nest fungus under microscope. The eggs (peridioles) are spore capsules that splash out with rain.

Shannon Berch helps a group of participants with identification.

Chef Ian Riddick from the Great Room at Long Beach Lodge wowed everyone with his wild mushroom cooking instruction! The best part was getting to eat it all afterwards...

By Sunday afternoon, participants had the ID skills to bring a diversity of edibles home for Thanksgiving dinner, including: Golden Chanterelles, Winter Chanterelles, Hedgehogs, Puffballs, Angel Wings, Pines, Slippery Jacks, and Porcini.

We at the Raincoast Education Society are excited to continue offering more field-based courses that provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the rich natural landscape of Clayoquot Sound and help create positive and sustqainable relationships with the ecosystems we exist within. Thanks to instructors Andy MacKinnon and Shannon Berch for their amazing and charismatic instruction, and thank you to all the participants who came from near and far to learn more about the natural world!