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 begining in March, 9am-12pm (some class times may vary depending on topics)
Members: $250/Non-members: $300 for the full course OR $30 per class
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. Note: A change has been made to this program since it was originally published. The program will meet March-December, 2018.

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.

Prowling For Owls

with Dan Ziomek, local birder and naturalist
Friday, January 26, 8-10pm – wait list only!
Saturday, February 10, 8-10pm – wait list only!

Saturday, February 17, 8-10pm – wait list only!
Saturday, March 3, 8-10pm – wait list only!
Members $12/Non-members $16 per night, youth 8 and older welcome with an adult.
Register here.

Dress INCREDIBLY warm because we’ll be standing around in the dark a lot. Bring your sharp ears, a flashlight, and a thermos of something hot to drink. We’ll meet at the Hitchcock Center.

Spring Birding Class with Scott Surner – wait list only!

Classes: 4 Wednesdays, February 7-May 9, 6:30pm-8pm
Please note: Due to winter weather, the first class will begin on Thursday, February 8 at 6:30pm at the Hitchcock Center.
Weekend Field Trips: February 10-June 10 see online for all dates
Register here. Online registration opens on January 9 at 9am.
Members $295/Non-members $325
Join this Hitchcock tradition, Scott has been leading since 1979. Space is limited and in high demand. Class and fieldtrip schedule.

Butterflies of the World – Cancelled

with John Root, naturalist and educator
Thursday, February 1, 7-8pm (snowdate-Feb. 15)
Members $8/Non-Members $10
Register here
Come dream about butterflies in February! Butterflies of the World is a powerpoint presentation featuring images of butterflies from every major continent throughout their life cycles. Participants learn fascinating facts about these enchanting insects, including myths and legends about butterflies, distinguishing characteristics of the five butterfly families, wing coloration, feeding behavior, and instruction in establishing butterfly gardens.

Attracting Pollinators Workshop

with Tom Sullivan, Pollinators Welcome of Montague
Evening Talk: Thursday, April 5, 6:30-8:30pm — Members $10/Non-members $15
Design Charette for Hitchcock Gardens: April 7, 9:30am-12:30pm — Members $15/Non-members $20
Register here
We depend on local populations of insect pollinators for most seed and fruit production in agriculture, horticulture, and wild plants. Come learn about the diversity of plant species that appeal to these important insects throughout the growing season. Along with our new building, we have a number of new planting beds. We made a lot of progress here on the landscape during our first growing season. But, we have a lot more we want to do. You can help us and get ideas for your own gardens.

April 5 Introductory Talk: Tom will focus on the most attractive pollinator-friendly plants, where they grow best in the landscape. You will leave full of ideas for designing your home gardens. Tom will follow up with links to key information to further your research and pollinator attracting success.

April 7 Design Charrette: Join us for a design ‘charrette’ for some beds here at our new building. During these two days you will learn about and inspect our site, refer to what you learned in the pollinator-friendly plants presentation, and then try your hand at designing bee and butterfly meadow gardens that complement the building.

Viewing the Night Sky and Stories by the Fire

Friday, February 9, 6-8pm
FREE Registration appreciated

Join us for an evening of fireside stories and viewing the night sky. It’s a delight to be out at night in the winter with firelight, stars and community.

Winter Nature Walk on Snowshoes

with John Green, naturalist
Saturday, February 24, 9am-12pm
Members $15/Non-members $20
Register here
Join naturalist John Green in one of his favorite habitats for winter nature walk on snowshoes. Go off trail and down to the water with the freedome of snowshoes looking for signs of all the animals and birds active through the winter. This is a magical time to visit the Quabbin. Bring snowshoes, we have a few to loan if needed. Directions provided with registration.

Salamander Tunnel Maintenance

A weekend day in March
Sign-up here to be notified of the date
A weekend day – timing depends on weather conditions and snow cover. The salamanders are coming! Come out and help get ready for their annual spring migration! We’ll gather on Henry Street in North Amherst and work on the tunnels. We’ll rake out the tunnel entrances, repair the drift fences that direct the animals into the tunnel entrances, pick up litter, and more! Wear work gloves and come prepared to get dirty! There will be a presentation on the salamanders’ amazing lives during a work break!

Tree Pruning and Tree Health

with Walker Korby, Whole Tree
Saturday, March 3, 9am-12pm
Members $15/Non-members $20
Register here
Come learn the basics of the science and art of tree care. Designed for home gardeners, this workshop will provide you with a foundation in the science and practice of pruning trees. We will cover techniques and introduce you to resources and equipment. Demonstrations on site at the Hitchcock Center.

Buds, Leaves and Global Warming: What 8 years of data collection tells us about phenology trends at Belchertown High School

with Louise Levy, BHS Science Teacher, MA Conservation Teacher of the Year Thursday
March 14, 7-8:30pm
Free, Registration appreciated
Come join Louise and her students as they share their findings from tracking and recording data on trees on the BHS campus for the last 8 growing seasons. We ask our trees the big questions – Is the length of the growing season changing with the changing climate? How can we understand what affects the timing of buds opening in Spring and leaves dropping in Fall, for each tree, during each year?  What other weather or biological phenomena track common patterns with our trees? How do our trees compare to others of the same species in other parts of New England?  How do we make use of this information to inform decisions for the future?

Morning Nature Walks for Seniors

with John Green, naturalist
Thursday, March 15, 9am-11am
Members $10/Non-members $12
Register here
Join John Green a lifelong naturalist as he ambles through a habitat looking and listening. Come see what’s waking up with the March thaw. It’s a wonderful time to explore nature and get breaths of fresh crisp air.

Edible Perennial Gardening and Landscaping

with John Root, naturalist and educator
Thursday, March 22, 7-8pm
Members $8/Non-members $10
Register here
Join us for this late winter power point presentation featuring the variety of trees, shrubs, vines, canes, and herbaceous perennials that can be grown in New England for bountiful harvest of fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Participants learn how to establish and care for these plants using organicn methods of cultivation. Nutritional and medicinal benefits of the plants are discussed as well. Q&A, handouts with a list of edible perennial plant species, resources for further study and recommended plant nurseries included.

Woodcock: Skydancer

with Dan Ziomek, local birder and naturalist
Friday, April 6, 8-10pm (weather date: April 13)
Members $12/Non-members $16
Register here

Have you heard the telltale peep of the woodcock looking for a mate to do its early spring sky dance? If not you are in for a treat that will likely become an annual tradition, you’ll be hooked. Join bird song radio personality and our favorite garden advisor Dan Ziomek to enjoy this special spring event.


Our Living Building Tour Program

First Fridays at 4pm: January 5, February 2, March 2
Third Wednesdays at 12pm: January 17, February 21, March 21
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.

The Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership: Harnessing the Unique Power of Teens to Advance Climate Legislation

with Solomon Goldstein-Rose, Adele Franks and Lilly Lombard
Monday, January 8, 3:30-6:30pm
For teens

Registration at
Teens are uniquely positioned to lobby legislators on crucial climate legislation. When they face teens, legislators realize they are facing the future! You will learn the basics of our Massachusetts legislature – state government 101, the key political players, current climate-related bills – practice the best communication strategies for influencing one’s elected officials, and make a plan to lobby your representative. Be inspired by teen graduates of the training who have lobbied successfully and will assist you as peer mentors. Learn from Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, age 23, the youngest representative in the MA State House, who built his political campaign on the platform of transforming Massachusetts into a clean energy center for the world. We will serve a substantial, healthy, and delicious snack. Visit for information and to register.

Repair Public: An Experiment in Community Fixery

Sunday, January 21, 12pm- 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:

Zero Energy Design & Performance: Practical Approaches

with Ellen Watts, Architerra
Wednesday, January 31, 7-8:30pm
FREE, registration appreciated
Architect Ellen Watts, president and co-founder of Architerra in Boston, will discuss her firm’s experience with zero energy and energy positive buildings, sharing design strategies and performance data.  Remarks will focus on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife Field Headquarters in Westborough, MA (2014), and the Clark University Alumni & Student Engagement Center in Worcester, MA (2016).  Watts chaired the Massachusetts Governor’s Zero Net Energy Buildings Task Force in 2008-2009, and is a passionate advocate for practical high performance buildings and resilient planning.  She holds degrees from Smith, Harvard and MIT. Sponsored by Zero Energy Municipal Buildings Committee of Mothers Out Front, Climate Action Now and Sustainable Amherst.

Lessening Our Carbon Footprint by Feasting on the Local Winter Harvest – CANCELLED

with Leslie Cerier, The Organic Gourmet
Thursday, February 8, 6:30-8pm
$10 Tasting Fee, Register here
In this lecture and local food tasting, gourmet organic chef/teacher and cookbook author Leslie Cerier, presents the bounty of our winter harvest: Come learn how to mix and match organic seasonal veggies, pickles, sauerkrauts, ghee, cheeses, honey, maple syrup, and even local grains and beans to make amazing meals all winter long while lessening our carbon footprint. Tasty samples and lots of cooking tips offered.

Backyard Sugaring

with Jennifer Unkles
A Saturday afternoon in early March based on the weather
Members Free/Non-members $8
Register here

Have you wanted to do some backyard sugaring but aren’t sure where to start. Join Jennifer at her home where she will share with you her home sugaring operation.

Rich Earth Institute: Urine Nutrient Reclamation Project

Saturday, March 10, 11am-12pm
FREE, register here
Founded in 2012, the Rich Earth Institute established the nation’s first community scale urine recycling program, the Urine Nutrient Reclamation Project. As leaders in this emerging field, they have become a hub for researchers, industry professionals, and practitioners exploring the intersection of agriculture and sanitation. Rich Earth holds the country’s first permit from the VT Department of Environmental Conservation to produce legally-approved urine derived fertilizer. Funded by the EPA, USDA, Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF), National Science Foundation (NSF), and private donations, Rich Earth collects, transports, treats and land applies human urine; turning it into an effective agricultural fertilizer at two participating local farms in Brattleboro, VT. In their presentation they will share the rationale for source separated urine diversion and nutrient recovery, and research results from the past 5 years.

Get the Buzz on Electric Vehicles

with Sally Pick, SJP Environmental Consulting
Tuesday, April 10th, 7-8:30pm
FREE register here
Curious about electric vehicle (EVs)s? How they work, how far they can go on a charge? An increasing number of electric vehicles on the market are competitively priced and can go over 100 miles on a charge. This workshop will start with a brief ride around the parking lot in a plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt. Participants will learn about EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs available, their features and range, big incentives that bring down their purchase price, charging an EV and matching the right EV and charger with your driving habits and needs. You’ll also learn about pairing solar power for your home with the charging demands of your car, and when to charge for the lowest carbon impact.

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment