Adult Community Programs

The Hitchcock Center offers a wide range of adult education programs aimed at fostering greater environmental awareness, literacy and action. These programs are offered through our highly skilled education staff as well as through a strong network of scientists, naturalists, environmentalists, educators, advocates and organizations who partner with the Hitchcock Center.

Community programs are listed here by subject category. To view programs chronologically, please visit our calendar.

Did you know that your EBT card can be used to access membership and programs at the Hitchcock Center?
Learn more about the EBT Card to Culture Program.


Nature All Year Study Club 2018

Sundays once per month, 9am-12pm (some class times may vary depending on topics)
Members: $300/Non-members: $350 for the full course
Drop-in cost is $30. 
Register here
Join us for our fifth year of offering an in-depth natural history course for naturalists and citizen scientists. Each month, in our series of nature explorations with different local naturalists, we explore a focused, seasonal, natural history topic. We’ll look at nature in new ways, from broad habitat perspectives to close details of individual species. Over the course of the year we’ll visit a variety of natural habitats in the greater Pioneer Valley area. Identification skills, ecological connections, adaptations, and life cycles of organisms will be the focus of our observations. Bring your curiosity and observation skills and be prepared to spend time outdoors. Dress for the weather as we rarely cancel due to inclement weather. Bring binoculars and a hand lens, water and snacks if you would like. Carpooling to more distant locations will be encouraged.

The “Environmental Canon” Book Club – A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

with Rae Griffiths – Teaching Creatures and Casey Beebe – Hitchcock
First half of book: Sunday, November 5, 2pm-3:30pm OR Thursday, November 16, 6pm-7:30pm
Second half of book: Wednesday, January 10, 6pm-7:30pm OR Sunday, January 21, 2pm-3:30pm
FREE, Registration appreciated
Join us to read through some of the most classic and beloved books in environmental and nature writing. They stand the test of time and illuminate new things in the current era. Have you read this beautiful classic A Sand County Almanac. We hope you will join us in reading your favorites again or reading them for the first time.

Spring Birding Class with Scott Surner

Classes: 4 Wednesdays 6:30pm-8pm
Weekend Field Trips: February 10-June 10 see online for all dates
Join this Hitchcock tradition, Scott has been doing it since 1979. Space is limited and in high demand. See our website for more details. Online registration opens on January 9 at 9am. Members $295/Non-members $325


Our Living Building Tour Program

First Fridays at 4pm: September 1, October 6, November 3, December 1
Third Wednesdays at 12pm: August 16, September 20, October 18, November 15, December 20
FREE but please register online
Come meet our newest educator – our building! It is designed to model systems in nature, it is net zero energy, net zero water, has composting toilets, and has been made with responsibly sourced non-toxic materials, come check it out at one of our bi-monthly tours. Tours typically last from 1-1.5 hours. Note: We are pleased to be able to offer Spanish language translators for our building tours. If you or someone you know could benefit from translation, please let us know in advance, so that we may schedule a translator for your tour date.

Carbon Pricing: The Keystone to Saving Our Planet?
with Mary Jo Maffei, Chair of Carbon Pollution and Rebate Committee, Climate Action Now and Mark Hart, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice in Amherst
Wednesday, September 27, 7pm
FREE, Registration appreciated 

Have you been wondering what Carbon Pricing is or what a Carbon Pollution Fee and Rebate would be? It is a broad, market-based initiative that is critical to lowering carbon emissions.  Virtually all economist support this approach and it has been successfully implemented around the world Massachusetts currently has two bills in the State House (S1821 and H1726) that would put a fee on carbon pollution. MA legislation is particularly important because it can become a model for other states and our country. There is a coalition of groups working to pass these bills. This presentation will include ways that you can help pass this essential legislation. This program is co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Living Building Docent Training Series

Wednesdays, October 4, 11, 18, 25, 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Registration required
Hampshire College and the Hitchcock Center are working together to train docents in the Living Building Challenge and to lead innovative building tours for the public and special groups at our two new LBC buildings. Each building is a valuable educational tool to teach about energy efficiency, rainwater capture, composting toilets, non toxic building materials, etc. We are looking for individuals passionate about green building and comfortable leading and talking to the public to train as Living Building Docents.

The Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge

Jessica Schultz, Living Building Challenge Ambassador
Thursday, October 5, 7pm-8:30pm
FREE, Registration appreciated
The Hitchcock Center took the Living Building Challenge in building its new building. The Challenge is an innovative philosophy that asks us, “What does good look like?” What does it mean to build healthy homes and communities that are regenerative, socially and environmentally just? Come learn about the Challenge and how it can be a framework for influencing decisions we make in our daily lives.

Moving Toward Zero Waste for Amherst

Thursday, October 19, 6pm-9pm
FREE, Registration appreciated

With the League of Women Voters of Amherst, the Recycling and Refuse Management Committee of Amherst, the Sustainability Department of Amherst and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment
Join us to learn about this new initiative to raise awareness about zero waste and to educate the community about how to move toward this goal. This evening will be used to plan action steps to reduce waste on an individual and municipal level. There will an interesting audio-visual program, large group interaction and smaller group work to develop individual and community strategies to adopt a plan to reduce waste.
6pm-7pm: Refreshments and tour of Hitchcock Center
7pm-9pm: Learn about what’s being planned and share your ideas for helping to reduce waste and promote recycling in Amherst

Repair Public: An Experiment in Community Fixery

Sunday, October 22, 1pm- 4pm
FREE, registration appreciated
Repair Public is an exercise in community resourcefulness. The basic idea is to encourage people to learn how and/or where to fix broken items instead of tossing them into a landfill and buying replacements. The participants and facilitators are local community members just like you. You bring a broken item that you want help repairing as well as a willingness to try to fix it. There will be repair facilitators on-hand to help you figure out how to fix your treasure, each with one or more areas of specialty. We’ll have various tools available for use, as well as some basic supplies like screws, tape, glue, wire nuts, needles, threads, and probably appliance cord with some plug-ends. With all these ingredients, we intend to repair whatever you decide to bring in.

DO bring:

Generally speaking, DON’T bring:

What We Can Do About Light Pollution – CANCELLED

James Lowenthal, Professor of Astronomy at Smith College and active in the International Dark-Sky Association
Wednesday, November 8, 7pm- 8:30pm
FREE, Registration appreciated

You may have seen images of Earth’s continents at night with metropolitan areas glowing from all our lights! James will lead a discussion of the current impacts that our use of lighting is having both on our own health and on the animals and plants that share the planet with us. Not only are these lights bad for nature but they are bad for us, too. James will describe work he and others are doing to reduce unnecessary light and offer opportunities for you to get involved in helping make progress around this important issue. Weather permitting we’ll also spend some time star-gazing!

Tour of Amherst Wastewater Treatment Facility

Thursday, November 16, 10am-11:30am
FREE but space is limited, Registration is required.

We think it is good to know where our water comes from and where it goes. We just turn on our faucets and flush our toilets but what’s the infrastructure that makes that possible. Come tour the facility that receives Amherst’s wastewater and see what happens there. At this special facility tiny microorganisms normally present in wastewater are given optimum conditions to feed on biodegradable matter, come check it out.

Air Source Heat Pumps – The Latest in Efficient Heating & Cooling

with Center for EcoTechnology
Wednesday, December 6, 7- 8:30pm
FREE, Registration appreciated

An air source heat pump is a system which transfers heat from outside to inside a building, or vice versa. Air at any temperature above absolute zero contains some energy. An air-source heat pump transfers (‘pumps’) some of this energy as heat from one place to another, for example between the outside and inside of a building. This can provide space heating or cooling. A single system can be designed to transfer heat in either direction, to heat or cool the interior of the building in winter and summer respectively.



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Hitchcock Center for the Environment