Wild Ideas: Innovating from Nature in Glacier National Park | 4-Day Educational Program

Learn more about the emerging discipline of biomimicry


5 Miles

Elevation Gain

1,000 Feet



Cost Per Person


Progam Overview

August 26-29, 2023: The spiral growth pattern of the ponderosa pine, the wing feathers of owls, and the incredible diversity of the prairie ecosystem. These are some of the many biological phenomena that have inspired sustainable design innovations in the emerging discipline of biomimicry.

Join biomimicry educators and Glacier Institute Outdoor Education Specialists in an exploration of Glacier National Park’s extraordinary repository of biological blueprints. “Wild Ideas” is an introduction to the basics of looking to nature for design inspiration. In this boots-on-the-ground workshop in the park, you will observe the wide range of habitats and species found here, identify nature’s deep patterns and learn how to translate your observations into design solutions.


Wild Ideas: Innovating from Nature in Glacier National Park | 4-Day Educational Program

Hike Overview Continued


Adelheid Fischer is a writer who focuses on natural history, ecology, and environmental history. She has written for numerous publications and is the coauthor of Valley of Grass: Tallgrass Prairie and Parkland of the Red River Region, winner of a Minnesota Book Award for Nature Writing, and North Shore: A Natural History of Minnesota’s Superior Coast. In 2014 she received the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award.

Fischer is a former co-director of InnovationSpace, a sustainable product-development program at Arizona State University. From 2006 to 2016, she led the program’s biomimicry initiative, which introduced students to the use of biology as a means of sustainable innovation in design, business and engineering. As the former assistant director of ASU’s Biomimicry Center, Fischer also initiated several biomimicry-based projects including “Designed to Move: Seeds That Float, Fly or Hitchhike through the Desert Southwest” and NatureMaker, an active learning library where hands-on explorations of nature inspire sustainable innovation. The project won ASU’s 2021 President’s Award for Innovation.

Fischer has co taught biomimicry traveling studios for ASU graduate students in design and architecture in places as diverse as Panama, Switzerland, the Galapagos and Hawaii. She is a faculty affiliate in ASU’s Design School and an Affiliate Global Futures Scholar in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at ASU. You can read more about her work at adelheidfischer.com.

Megan Schuknecht is a senior educator with The Center for Learning With Nature. A biologist by training and an interdisciplinary generalist in practice, Megan has taught intensive biomimicry workshops around the world, from Montana to Mexico, Scotland, South Africa, Denmark, and many places in between. She helps learners understand the practice of biomimicry through the deep exploration of nature and has developed biomimicry curriculum and tools for all age levels. While working for the Montana-based Biomimicry Institute, Megan was a founding team member of AskNature, an online portal to nature’s strategies for sustainable design. In addition to serving as the Institute’s director of university education for many years, in her role as senior biomimicry professional she worked with dozens of companies to find biological inspiration for solving design challenges, including Unilever, Ford, P&G, Patagonia, VF and Autodesk, among others. Most recently, she collaborated with the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) on Wild Creativity, a bilingual traveling biomimicry exhibit currently on view at OMSI.

Day 1: August 26, 2023
Arrive at our Field Camp site between 4:00-6:00PM.
Dinner will be served at 6PM.
At 7PM, we will gather and cover an introduction and course orientation.

Day 2: August 27, 2023
Morning Session
Introduction to biomimicry
A lecture and hands-on classroom exercises will introduce participants to the basics of biomimicry. Co-leader Megan Schuknecht will introduce the workshop’s team-based design challenge.

Afternoon Session
We will grab a bag lunch and head to the Lake McDonald Lodge for a primer in the how-tos of deep nature observation. Then it’s off to the mountains to the spruce-fir forests of Packer’s Roost, where our Glacier Institute Outdoor Education Specialist will introduce us to a forest in transition following the historic 2003 Trapper Fire. On the way back to the institute, we’ll stop at McGee Meadow and Christensen Meadow to examine the individual strategies that grasses and other prairie plants use to manage disturbances such as drought and fire and how these species thrive in community.

Evening Lecture: Why Biomimicry?: Nature and Creativity, Co-leader Adelheid Fischer

Day 3: August 28, 2023
Morning Session
We will join our Glacier Institute Outdoor Education Specialist for an up-close exploration of the plants and animals of Glacier National Park using the institute’s hands-on learning library of natural history artifacts. Using items from the collection—seeds, animal pelts, skulls, feathers and more—they will regale us with the ingenious “survive and thrive” stories of the organisms that call Glacier National Park home. Following our explorations of the learning library, participant teams will spend time practicing the elements of biomimetic design and drafting potential solutions to their design challenge.

Afternoon Session
After grabbing a bag lunch, we will head up high into the alpine tundra at Logan Pass to study how the plants and animals here thrive in the extreme conditions of their environment, from intense solar radiation and wild swings of temperature to sandblasting and drying winds. We will have the opportunity to see sweeping views from the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail. While we’re in the upper reaches of the park, we’ll stop at Jackson Glacier Overlook, where a Glacier Institute Outdoor Education Specialist will describe how glaciers have shaped the geology, soils and ecology of the plants and animals that live in and around the ice.

Evening Lecture: Guest speaker (TBD)

Day 4: August 29, 2023
Morning Session
Participant teams meet to finalize their design challenge solutions.

Afternoon Session
Our series of field trips ends in a hike along Trail of the Cedars, a one mile boardwalk loop that winds around an old-growth forest community dating to the 1500s. Reminiscent of the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, this wet forest contains an awe-inspiring collection of big trees including western red cedar, western hemlock and black cottonwood. A Glacier Institute Outdoor Education Specialist will introduce us to the adaptations and community dynamics of this stable system that are unlike those of the fire-prone forests in other parts of the park.

Evening Session: Team Presentations and Workshop Closing

Learning Objectives

  • Bear safety
  • Glaciation evidence in landscape
  • Plant adaptations
  • Animal adaptations
  • Fire management changes
  • Human developments impact on wilderness experience
  • Leave No Trace principles
  • Local flora and fauna

We will be staying at the Glacier Institute Field Camp. The camp is located on a bluff overlooking the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, and includes five sleeping cabins, a community bathhouse with private showers and bathrooms, a classroom, a library, and a kitchen. Each sleeping cabin comes with five twin beds and has electricity, but there is no running water, TV, or phone. The cabins do have a portable electric heater for use if the nights get too cool. A bottom sheet and pillow are provided, we request guests bring their own sleeping bag or other personal bedding. The community bathhouse has flush toilets, sinks, and hot showers.

All breakfast and dinner will be at Field Camp and will be provided and cooked by the Glacier Institute staff. Lunch will be packed each morning with food provided by the Glacier Institute before you take off to enjoy Glacier National Park. Once departed, each person will be responsible to carry their own food on trail which will be provided by the Glacier Institute.


What to Expect On Your August Wild Ideas: Innovating from Nature

We will be hiking on various trails at an moderate pace, there will be frequent stops to identify plants and animals of Glacier National Park. Hiking distance covers up to five miles per day, with an average elevation gain of 1,000 feet over uneven terrain.

Program Details

  • This program meets at Glacier Park Field Camp Meeting Hall
  • Instructors: Adelheid Fischer and Megan Schuknecht, M.S.
  • The program will begin 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. on day 1 and ends at 6 p.m. on the final day. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Hiking distance covers up to 5 miles per day with 1,000 feet elevation change.
  • Glacier National Park Vehicle Pass is requred, you can purchase a pass at recreation.gov.</>
  • On-site parking is available.
  • There is a maximum number of 13 hikers per trip.
  • This program has a minimum guest count of 3 people. In the unlikely case we don’t reach that number, you will be notified prior to the event.

The Glacier Institute has a 7 day cancellation policy for a full refund with all of our courses.

What to Bring

Please remember that weather in NW Montana during all seasons can change quickly from warm and sunny to freezing at any time of the year. We recommend checking the weather prior to your trip. Please also check your course information sheet for specific gear requirements in addition to those listed below.

  • Lightweight hiking boots or a sturdy pair of hiking shoes
  • 2 liter sized water bottle or Camelback
  • Day Pack with plastic bag liner or cover
  • Waterproof rain jacket and pants
  • Sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellant & lip balm
  • Camera (optional)
  • Trekking poles, if you like to use them for hiking (optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Field Notebook notes and sketches

Download complete checklist here.