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About Us: About Us

About Us

MSU is an all-volunteer organization that seeks to provide opportunities for pleasure, recreation and socializing for those in our community interested in mushrooms.

About Us: Video

Activities 

MSU meets on the first weekend of the month June-August for forays in small groups led by volunteers. The purpose of a foray can be to hunt for edibles, collect for scientific study, or enjoy the beauty and diversity of fungi.

MSU also meets at the end of summer for an annual multi-day gathering called the Fall Foray. This event usually includes workshops, lectures, contests, forays, camping, dutch oven cooking, and help with identification.

Year long events include talks, workshops, potlucks and art activities. Beginners are welcome at all MSU events.

Starting in 2021, MSU began hosting the Northern Utah Funga project. The goal of this project is to contribute high quality mushroom observations to the iNaturalist database and to describe the fungi of Northern Utah, including rare, potentially threatened, and under-documented species. NUF plans to maintain a collection of northern Utah fungi for use in DNA sequencing, vouching specimens in curated fungaria, and lead mycology and citizen science education in northern Utah.

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History

The Mushroom Society of Utah was founded in 1993 by Ardean Watts and several charter members who shared an interest in mycology (the study of fungi). The first ever MSU foray took place at Fish Lake in conjunction with the Utah Native Plant Society. KUER's RadioWest made a short video of Ardean mushroom hunting in 2015. Check it out below.

Our Board

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Aimée Nguyễn, President

Aimée’s journey with fungi began with an interest in foraging, but unable to satiate her curiosity with that alone, this quickly evolved into a passion for studying and appreciating fungi in all aspects. From the knowledge she gained through her amateur studies, she created an after-school Intro to Mycology enrichment course at the school where she teaches 8th grade Language Arts. In creating the curriculum, she was challenged with the fact that the field of study is not readily accessible and decided to expand her teachings by serving as a general member on the MSU board in 2023. In January 2024, she was voted in as president of MSU. Her current projects for the society are the Foray Leadership Training program and the Spring Summit, an educational event for beginner/novice fungi lovers.

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Jesse West, Vice President

Jesse was born and raised in East Tennessee. He grew up enjoying nature and began taking an interest in fungi after moving to Knoxville. After graduating from college, Jesse started working as an advocate for the hemp industry and other natural resources. Jesse moved to Utah in 2022 and attended the MSU foray. Elected as vice president in 2023, he has enjoyed connecting with the community and is happy to help be a voice for mushrooms. Jesse is currently working on vamping up the social aspect of our society to help build community.

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Erin Moore, Secretary

Erin joined MSU in 2022 after developing an interest in learning more about the foods we can connect to in nature. She has worked as a journalist for various local and non-local publications in Salt Lake City, including being the music editor at City Weekly for three years. She has also worked in the local afterschool world. Here, she ran a cooking club with kids and helped them grow culinary mushrooms to teach them about how mushrooms grow, why they are important and how good they can taste! In January of 2024, she was elected onto the MSU board as secretary. She loves looking for wild edibles while finding lovely, odd fungi along the way. 

About Us: Video
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Dmitri Smirnov, Treasurer

Dmitri grew up in Russia, where foraging for edible mushrooms is a national sport. After moving to the US, he discovered that fungi are not that different in this part of the world. He got involved with the Utah Mushroom Society in 2020 and became the society's treasurer in 2023. Upon retiring from his corporate career in finance, he now enjoys travelling, skiing, sailing, fishing, gardening, and, of course, mushroom hunting in the local mountains.

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Ashley Simon, Past President

Ashley got involved with the Mushroom Society of Utah in 2017 after finding a mysterious mushroom in her lawn. This expanded into learning mushroom identification and moderating online discussion groups on the topic. Since then, she has served as a general board member and as president of MSU. She holds a Master's degree in Middle East Studies and Linguistics, and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Her interests include leading forays, understanding fungi as part of a larger ecology, community science and conservation. 

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Chris Kleine, General Board Member

Chris has been interested in fungi ever since he took a mycology class at Oregon State University. He completed a BS in botany at OSU and an MS at the University of Wyoming. Since then, he has been studying fungi throughout Western North America. He has served on the MSU board since January of 2023, leads forays & lectures, and frequently ID’s in Mushroom Observer and iNaturalist—he's the top identifier in our NUF Project

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Eric Gerson, General Board Member

Eric became interested in identifying mushrooms after attending a naturalist workshop during the drought-breaking spring of 2016 in California. After identifying Hygrophorus eburneus (Cowboys Handkerchief), foraging for mushrooms became a regular occurrence in his life. In the intervening years, Eric has taught hundreds of people about the interconnected world of fungus as an outdoor educator in California and as foray leader for the Utah Mushroom Society since 2022. He joined the board as a general member in 2024. He is currently working to help MSU improve our safety efforts for outdoor excursions. 

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