Firefly Workshop FAQ


$185 for the weekend course per person

Lodging at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary is optional; $40/night per person shared; $65/night private. 

Tuition includes evening dinners on Friday night and Saturday night, and the $30 book: Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs: Identification and Natural History of the Fireflies of the Eastern and Central United States and Canada by Lynn Faust. If you already have this book or want to share the book as a couple, let us know and we will reduce your tuition by $30. Be sure to bring the book with you if you already own a copy, as we will be using it heavily for reference.

Meals other than dinners are provided by registrants.

Workshop Hub:

The workshop hub is the 2600-acre Highlands Nature Sanctuary on the Rocky Fork Gorge, headquarters for the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System.

Lodging Details:

You can choose a private room, or a shared room as part of the reduced lodging costs associated with the Appalachian Forest School courses. Lodging is available at one of several beautifully furnished cabins, bungalows and lodges at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary. Each lodge is fully supplied with linens, sheets and kitchens and offer 2-5 bedrooms each, with shared bathrooms on the hall. All of our lodges are on Cave Road within 2 miles of our workshop hub, except Ravenwood Lodge, which sits on the edge of the Rocky Fork Gorge on the west end of the Sanctuary and is a 10 minute drive away from our workshop hub. We are not able to honor requests for any particular lodge for educational events.

If you are coming solo but wish to share a room with another, participants may opt to be matched with another solo roommate of the same gender. You can request this service on the registration form. If we find a roommate for you, we will notify you of the name of the person. If we can’t find you a roommate, so long as you remain willing to share, even at the last minute, we will honor your shared rate. Shared rooms have two single beds.

If you wish to upgrade your lodging, you may opt to rent private the Eyrie Suite or the Zen River Suite at Hermitage Cabin, or possibly other Sanctuary lodges that are not part of the Appalachian Forest School’s lodging options. Hermitage lies in a private wooded hillside, perched on the rim of the Rocky Forge Gorge. To upgrade to the Zen, Eyrie, or other lodge facility, please call Kayla at 937-365-1935 or reserve the lodge on our website.  

Cancellation Policy:

Sorry, there are no refunds for cancellations that occur after one month in advance of the event unless we have a waiting list. Please try to find someone to fill your place.

Additional Expenses:

Please budget for providing car transportation to the Highlands Nature Sanctuary, and to various field trip locations, distances noted on the Schedule of events. Carpooling can usually be arranged with other participants for day trips, and when we have limited parking at our destinations, car sharing is encouraged or sometimes necessary. Don’t forget some pocket money for snacks, souvenirs, etc.


Full registration includes dinner for Friday and Saturday evening. Our meals avoid nearly all processed foods. Even our salad dressing is homemade. If you have food restrictions, please make a note on the registration form and we will let you know if we cannot accommodate your needs. We regularly accommodate vegetarian.and gluten-free diets. Meat is almost always a side dish to the main entrée, and can be accepted or declined. If you have a specific allergy, be sure to tell us and we will let you know what possible dishes you need to avoid. Because we make nearly all of our foods from scratch, we know everything that goes in them.

Location and Maps:

Our home base is: Highlands Nature Sanctuary, 7660 Cave Road, Bainbridge, OH 45612

Highlands Nature Sanctuary is located in Highland County in south central Ohio, approximately 25 miles west of Chillicothe, and 17 miles east of Hillsboro, four miles west of Bainbridge, and four miles east of Rainsboro,  It lies one mile south of Highway 50 on Cave Road. Cave Road is located immediately east of the bridge over the Rocky Fork Creek. Watch for the highway signs. Turn south on Cave Road and follow for one mile until you reach the Appalachian Forest Museum. Parking is on the left hand side, across the road from the Museum.

Airports and Nearest City:

Our two nearest airports are almost equidistant. Columbus and Cincinnati are both approximately 1.75 hours driving time away.

Cell Service & Wi-Fi:

We will be staying in a very rural location. Phone service is spotty for many servers, other than on US 50 at the entrance to Cave Road. Sprint is the only service that works on Cave Road where most of the lodges are located. At registration, we will provide the password to link into our Wi-Fi at the Appalachian Forest Museum – our main headquarters. We work off satellite with limited bytes per month, so we appreciate you not streaming videos.

Hiking Trails:

The Sanctuary is a hiking paradise, offering 16 miles of trails. As our workshop guest, you will be provided a hiking day pass which will allow you to access all of our trails anytime during the event, both our public trails and our more protected member trails. All curriculum is optional and if at any time you wish to sit out on a program or engage in a different activity, please free to do so. Just let the leader know so they don’t wait for you to begin.

Comfort in the Out-of-Doors:

We will be spending most of our time in the field, so please pack clothing that will allow you to be comfortable for a variety of weather conditions. The program will go on rain or shine. In southern Ohio, the low to mid-nineties are common daytime highs, and most nights tend to cool off, dipping back into the seventies. If we are experiencing temperatures unusually high temperatures, we may adjust our schedule to make the most of mornings and evenings. If you work daily in an air-conditioned environment, you might be wise to prepare by taking mid-day walks so you can begin adjusting to midsummer outdoor temperatures. The Sanctuary is amazingly benign when it comes to flying biting insects. We experience very few to no mosquitoes and no black flies. You may, however, encounter a few ticks in the open fields, chiggers in tall grass if you choose to wander off trail (which is a good reason not to), and a few deer flies in low moist areas sheltered from the sun. If any of these challenges are new for you, let us know and we will do our best to orient you to them, help mentor your adjustment, or minimize exposure. That said, no exposure at all is not a realistic expectation for outdoor field work. 

Should I prepare for insects?  We experience very few to no mosquitoes and no black flies. You may encounter ticks in the open fields, and chiggers in tall grass if you choose to wander off trail (which is a good reason not to), and a few deer flies in low moist areas. If any of these challenges are new for you, let us know and we will do our best to orient you. No exposure to at least some insects in southern Ohio is not a realistic expectation for outdoor field work. During every field trip there will inevitably be a few ticks found crawling up some of our registrants’ legs. If you see them, they are not a problem. Just brush them off. It’s the ones you don’t see that might pose a problem. Since we DO have deer ticks in southern Ohio, please read below.

A Special Note on Ticks. We will be orienting everyone to ticks in order to minimize exposure to disease which can be carried to you by deer ticks, an exposure which is unlikely but possible. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE USE OF ROSE GERANIUM OIL ON YOUR LEGS AND PANTS which has proved to be a good deterrent. We also recommend a good tick check at night before or after showering. If you have a partner, use him or her to do the ‘primate thing.” If you don’t, employ a mirror and don’t forget to check your hairline.

The key to addressing Lyme’s disease risk is to be aware of symptoms and  demanding proper diagnostic tests if you suspect the disease. You may know more than your doctor so being empowered is important. Lyme’s is treatable if detected in a reasonable time, but because deer ticks have not been in Ohio for very long, many doctors are slow to recognize the symptoms. Being informed and proactive provides you with the highest level of safety.  Here are some symptoms to remember, which tend to be flu-like:

  • Pain areas: in the joints or muscles
  • Whole body: fatigue, fever, or malaise
  • Joints: stiffness or swelling
  • Also common: appearance of large red blotches, sometimes with bulls-eye pattern,
  • Headache
  • Palsy

A Special Note on Chiggers. Chigger bites are very annoying if numerous, and are itchy but not dangerous. The best way to minimize or better yet, completely avoid, chigger exposure is to stay on the trail. Perhaps ironically, we have found that open-toed sandals attract less chiggers than socks and shoes. Chiggers love to bury into tight places between skin and clothing. Bare legs can also deter ticks because you can easily feel the more common dog tick crawling up your legs, as well as visually see them and easily send them on their way. We are not necessarily recommending shorts and sandals during the day, but if you enjoy wearing them, do so. You may fare better than your less scantily dressed colleagues.

Physical Condition Required:

This event includes outdoor field activities every day. Participants should be able to withstand outdoor summer temperatures. If you attend this event with an ability to hike 3-4 miles a day without injury or severe discomfort either during the hike or afterward, you’ll be fine with handling the demands of this event. Off-trail hiking may be an occasional component of this event, but we will never bushwhack across open fields. For the most part we will be following established trails. Trails may be narrow and uneven in nature at times, and there will be a few unimproved creek crossing. Our pace will be slow or steady, but never fast.

What to Bring:

  1. A good quality set of binoculars. If they can focus near as well as far, that’s a plus.
  2. Personal care items; soap, shampoo, etc. (towels, linens, and tissue are pro-vided in the lodges).
  3. Informal outdoor clothing for both wet and dry weather. Having pants for night time walking is probably a good idea.
  4. Sturdy hiking shoes
  5. Flashlight – IMPORTANT: Bright flashlights will ruin all of our night visions. Even a cell phone is too bright. Bring a pencil flashlight if you can. You will not be able to ID or catch fireflies without a flashlight. It is VERY dark on the Arc preserves.
  6. Water bottle.
  7. Daypack or satchel to carry your ID book, water, and flashlight.
  8. A small notepad to take notes in
  9. Pen or pencil
  10. A first aid kit appropriate to your personal needs.
  11. Pocket money for snacks or gift shop purchases.
  12. Insect Repellent. We don’t have many mosquitoes but we do have ticks and chiggers. Please be sure to read preparatory information on this webpage for these species. We recommend rose geranium oil if you can get it. Plus a good friend to do a tick check at day’s end! Seriously… Lacking that, bring a mirror.

Let’s Stay Connected!

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More Questions?

Please contact registration coordinator, Kayla Rankin at 937-365-1935, or email