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.

Online registration is available program by program below
– look for the link under each program listing.


Nature All Year Study Club 2017

Sundays once per month, 9:00 am – 12:00 noon (some class times may vary depending on topics)
Members $275/Non-members $325 for the full course
Drop-in cost is $27. For the Plum Island field trip, the drop-in cost is $45.
Register here
Join us for our fourth 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.

Course dates and leaders are available here. 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.

May is nature’s most magical month, the perfect time to celebrate the wonder of birds. At Valley Bird Days programs and events, you are invited to experience birds’ beauty and song, their diversity and identification, their amazing migration patterns and nesting strategies, and their other adaptations for survival. Valley Bird Days highlights bird conservation – how we learn about and help birds through the efforts of individuals and organizations.
Join the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Mass Audubon at Arcadia WIldlife Sanctuary, Kestrel Land Trust, US Fish and Wildlife Service – Region 5, and others for a range of programs at our individual sites – all to celebrate the beauty and stewardship of birds!

Check out the Valley Bird Days to view programs at all the sites or download Valley Bird Days (PDF) events.

Bird Walk at the Fort River Refuge

Sunday, May 7, 7:00-9:30 am
Ted Watt, Hitchcock Center naturalist
No registration necessary
Join us for a spring morning bird walk as part of Valley Bird Days. We’ll make our way along the new accessible trail, looking and listening for songbirds returning from the tropics for their spring nesting season. The colors and sounds of nature will heighten our sense of beauty and help us appreciate anew the amazing variety of life that share the planet with us! Think warblers! Bring binoculars and dress for the weather. It can still be quite cold early on a May morning. If it’s only misty or drizzly we’ll go, heavy rain cancels. This program is a part of Valley Bird Days.

Spring Wildflowers!

Nancy Goodman, local naturalist and plant conservation volunteer with the New England Wild Flower Society
Sunday, May 7, 9am-noon
Members $20/Non-members $30 Register here

Nancy will guide us on a leisurely stroll along a section of Mitch’s Way in Hadley. The unpaved road parallels the Connecticut River through extensive floodplain forest habitat. We will find a variety of trees and wildflowers; and probably some wonderful warblers, too! Bring binoculars, and hand lens, and be prepared to take notes.

Saving American Kestrels & Other Avian Migrants

Dave King, Research Wildlife Biologist for the US Forest Service and Adjunct Associate Professor of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
May 9, 6:30 pm
$5 suggested donation. Registration appreciated

Dave specializes in the lives of migratory birds as well as the conservation of their global populations. As a member of the Kestrel Land Trust Advisory Council, he helped to spearhead the land trust’s efforts to save its namesake, the American Kestrel. This beautiful bird is the smallest falcon in North America, and its population is in decline. Dave will share the story of the trust’s Kestrel Nest Box program, and talk about the life history of these beautiful falcons, as well as efforts to conserve critical habitats for migratory birds of all kinds. You’ll be able to view the kestrel box in the field below the new Hitchcock Center and find out how you can get involved in this important effort to aid a species at risk!

Biothon 2017

May 12-14 and June 2-4
The Hitchcock Center’s 18th Annual 2017 Biothon starts May 12th! You’ve heard of marathons, walk-a-thons, and dance-a-thons: this is our version. Biothon is a fundraiser for the Hitchcock Center’s environmental education programs. And it’s a fun and educational way to document the biodiversity of our region. Biothon is a team event during peak spring biodiversity. Join a team, start your own team, or donate to support a team. Learn more about Biothon or register for a Biothon outing below.

Bluebirds and Bluebird House Building – CANCELLED

Ted Watt, Hitchcock Center naturalist and David Dunn, woodworker
Saturday, May 13, 10-noon
Members $20 per family/per house/Non-members $30. $5 additional fee for walk-ins; all materials included. Recommended for adults and including young people 4th grade and up. Space is limited. Register here

Come on over to the new building and learn more about these beautiful birds. We’ll start with a slide show about the birds, their natural history, nesting cycle, and habitat requirements. If you have a big lawn, open, treeless land or pastures (but not wooded acreage) you might be able to attract them to nest boxes. After the slide show you will work with the bluebird house kits to assemble a house ready to take home and put up in the right place. Bring your own Phillips-head screwdriver and come prepared to take notes!

Birding By Ear

John Green, Naturalist
Sunday, May 28 (Memorial Day Weekend!), Quabbin Park
Each walk, 7–10 am
Members $20/Non-members $30 per walk. Register here

John will guide you on a listening walk through a variety of local habitats. He will point out the songs and calls of a variety of spring nesting songbirds. He will share strategies about how to distinguish some of the sound-a-like songs and will help you connect the visual image with the sound! He will explore several varied habitats and specify which species live in each so you can more easily determine who is singing!

Explore A Rich Forest – CANCELLED

Glenn Motzkin, Plant ecologist
Saturday, June 3, 9am-noon
Members $20/Non-members $30 Register here

In ecological terms a rich, mesic forest means one where the soils are not highly acid, are rich in certain minerals, and where the soil is moist but not wet. We will explore an area with a good variety of trees, wildflowers and ferns. Glenn will help bring the ecology of this habitat alive for you and will share recent understandings about the importance of these habitats. Be prepared for insects and perhaps ticks. Directions to our meeting location will be provided upon registration.

Tree and Wildflower Nature Walk – CANCELLED

Nancy Goodman and Ted Watt, local naturalists and Plant Conservation Volunteers with the New England Wild Flower Society
Saturday, June 24, 9-noon
Members $20/Non-members $30 Register here

We’ll hike some of the trails at the Trustees of Reservations new Mt. Warner property in Hadley. We’ll look for wildflowers and at the variety of trees found on the reservation. And we’ll look and listen for nesting woodland birds along the way. Bring your curiosity, binoculars and be prepared to take notes.

The Hawley Bog! – CANCELLED

Glenn Motzkin, Plant ecologist
July 1, 8:30 am – noon
Members $20/Non-members $30 Register here

If you haven’t explored Hawley Bog in the high Berkshires yet, don’t miss this opportunity. More common to our north, bogs are typically high-acid, nutrient-poor habitats. And the bog plants possess a variety of fascinating adaptations to help them thrive under these conditions. You’ll see insect-eating plants, the plant that makes peat moss, and several native orchids! We will be walking on a boardwalk and will be in the open hot sun for a portion of the trip so sun protection is suggested. Directions to our meeting location provided upon registration.

Ants in Your Plants

Elizabeth Farnsworth
Saturday, July 15, 2017, 1:00-3:30 pm
Members $33/Non-members $40 Register here
E.O. Wilson dubbed ants “the little things that run the world.” Discover these amazing creatures, led by a coauthor of Field Guide to Ants of New England. Enjoy a slideshow about their biology, followed by a foray to find many ants. Learn how to identify and appreciate these creatures, which are essential to the life of plants—and humans. Co-sponsored with the New England Wildflower Society.

Fun with Ferns

Elizabeth Farnsworth
Thursday, July 20, 2017, 10:00am – 2:30 pm
Members $60/Non-members $72 Register here
Elizabeth Farnsworth (aka “Fernsworth”), coauthor of the Peterson Field Guide to the Ferns, will introduce you to the major groups of true ferns, moonworts, horsetails, clubmosses, spikemosses, and quillworts. We will learn how to identify these plants, discuss their lifestyles and ecology, view specimens under a microscope, and travel into the field to view a variety of these diverse plants. Co-sponsored with the New England Wildflower Society.

River Flood Plain Explorations

Ted Watt, Hitchcock Center Naturalist
Saturday, August 26, 9am-noon
Members $50 for series or $20 per walk /Non-members $80 for series or $30 per walk Register here
One of our most significant natural habitats here in the Valley is our flood plain forests. We’ll visit 3 different flood plain forests, a different location each date, looking at the plants and exploring the natural history. We’ll identify a number of species and compare the plant communities at the 3 sites. We’ll explore mature forests with shrubby and diverse herbaceous understory. There will be poison ivy, mosquitoes, and probably ticks at all sites! Bring a hand lens and be ready to take notes. Walks available separately. Directions to sites provided upon registration.


Sustainability series programs sponsored by Wright BuildersKeiter Builders, PV Squared, and Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI).

Our Living Building Tour Program

First Fridays at 4pm: July 7, August 4
Third Wednesdays at 12pm: July 19, August 16
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. 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.

What is Biomimicry?

Wednesday, May 31, 7pm
FREE – registration appreciated
A sustainable world already exists. Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. Come watch a short film that answers this question. The film will be followed by a Biomimcry tour of our Living Building.

Peace, Love, and Bonobos: How a Great Ape Can Lead Us to a Better World – CANCELLED

Sally Jewell Coxe, co-founder Bonobo Conservation Initiative
Wednesday, June 7, 7pm
Registration appreciated, $10 Suggested donation to Bonobo Conservation Initiative
Download a flyer and share Peace, Love and Bonobos
Join Sally Jewell Coxe for a fascinating glimpse into the world of one of our closest great ape relatives, the bonobo. Bonobos were the last great ape to be discovered, and sadly, these magnificent beings face extinction due to hunting and habitat destruction. Working with Congolese partners, the Bonobo Conservation Initiative is leading efforts to safeguard bonobos and the vital rainforest in which they live. Ms. Coxe is the co-founder and president of the Bonobo Conservation Initiative. In this engaging, multimedia presentation, Ms. Coxe will share how protecting these peaceful, loving great apes can lead us all to a better future. Reception to follow.

What Can YOU Do About Climate Change?
Solutions and actions to help our community, economy and environment

June 10, 2017 1:00- 4:30pm FREE – Register here
The Center for EcoTechnology is proud to host this Speaker Series, in conjunction with the Hitchcock Center. We are pleased to offer this free of charge, but we encourage registration. Climate change is one of the most pressing issues we currently face. This event focuses on experts from our community that are addressing locally-relevant environmental issues. Speakers will discuss innovative and tangible solutions to various challenges associated with climate change through psychological, political and community-based strategies.

1:00pm: Refreshments and Registration and Optional Hitchcock Tour
1:45pm:Ezra Markowitz
2:25pm: Break
2:35pm:Nancy Nylen
3:15pm: Break
3:25pm: Solomon Goldstein-Rose
4:00pm: Closing Words

Building Without Toxins: Educating for a Healthy Material World

Friday, June 16, 2017, 1-4pm
FREE but registration encouraged
Download event flyer

Join materials, toxics, and living building experts for a conversation on toxins in the built environment and how making toxic-free choices in materials is possible. The afternoon will include panelist perspectives, a tour of specific materials features of the Hitchcock Center’s new Living Building, and time for questions and discussion with the panelists. Learn more about the speakers for this program. This program was developed under a grant from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell. 


New! Saturdays at the Hitchcock Center

Second and third Saturdays, 9am-1pm
January through June
Drop in, see Hitchcock’s new home, and learn about our living building.

New! Second Saturday Science!

Second Saturdays, January through June
January 14, February 11, March 11, April 8, May 13, June 10
No registration required. Groups of 6 or more please call ahead.

Join us for seasonal nature and science programs each second Saturday of the month. Designed for children with their parents, these programs will explore cool topics in nature.

Saturday Science themes:
January 14 – Scutes and Scales
February 11 – The Science of Snow
March 11 – Meet the Trees
April 15 – Energy Is Electrifying!
May 13 – Backyard Birds
June 10 – Wonderful Water

Youth Birding

with Dan Ziomek, Local Birder and WRSI’s Bird Songs Radio Program
For young people ages 8-13
6 Saturdays – April 8 – May 13

Individual/Youth: Members $60 Non-members $75
Parent/Child Members $100/Non-members $120
Space is limited, registration required
Spring migration is the most exciting time of year to get out and see birds! Be the next generation of birders!

Celebrate Earth Day at the Sustainability Fair

Saturday, April 22, 10am-4pm
Amherst Town Common
Join the Hitchcock Center for this Amherst tradition of sharing ways to make our world a better place.


Join the Hitchcock Center, Mass Audubon at Arcadia, The Kestrel Land Trust, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to offer a range of programs at our individual sites – all to celebrate the beauty and stewardship of birds! Check out the Valley Bird Days to view programs at all the sites.

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment