Developing Hopeful, Creative Problem-Solvers

By Billy Spitzer

Note: This is an article from our Salamander Scoop eNewsletter in January, 2023. To read more and subscribe to Salamander Scoop, click here.

Hampshire College students in Professor Partan’s course, The Hampshire Woods: Creating a Long-Term Datbase of Animal Biodiversity at Hampshire College, work with Hitchcock educator Katie Koerten on aquatic entomology in September, 2022.

I have been at the Hitchcock Center for over year now, and continue to be impressed by the commitment of the staff, board, volunteers, and community to our mission, “to educate and inspire action for a healthy planet.” This work places us at the intersection of climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice. As the Center is now celebrating its 60th year, our impact continues to radiate from our sustainable Living Building into the communities around us.

Instead of simply teaching about climate change, the Hitchcock Center is helping people develop the skills needed to create climate solutions and foster climate resilience by helping them to reconnect to and learn from nature’s efficient and sustainable systems, to develop a problem-solving mindset, and to shape a positive vision for the future. We are developing hopeful, creative problem-solvers who can take on the challenges of climate change.

We are providing opportunities for people of all ages to develop a relationship with nature; we are leading sustainable engineering and design challenges for youth; we are teaching communication, organization, and leadership skill-building for teens; we are convening adults for discourse and civic engagement around climate change and sustainability; and we are continuing to broaden our reach to include communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Here are some examples of our impact on the more than 10,000 people we reach each year in Western Massachusetts and beyond:

We are all experiencing the impacts of climate change more each day, in our own communities and around the world. Recent federal and state legislation represents progress, but in order to successfully, and most importantly, equitably address climate change, having policies in place is not enough. We need community members who have the knowledge, skills, and values to successfully engage together in building a greener, just, and more economically vibrant future. We hope you will join us in this work, the health of our planet depends on it.

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