Hitchcock Center’s outdoor, nature-based programming made us natural leaders as students need outdoor classes and many educators statewide take their first steps into outdoor instruction. Outdoor learning environments have been proven to support the health, curiosity and natural development of children, and we are committed to creating ever more programs that support children’s healthy development this way at a time when indoor instruction poses daunting risks. We’ve taught other teachers, accustomed to classrooms and labs, to make the same shift.
This year’s Summit was the first to be fully youth designed and facilitated by a youth leadership team of five students: Victoria Fogg, Leo Franceschi, Tessa Kawall, Ollie Perault, and Sadie Ross. Four schools actively participated in the virtual event with 32 students, including WEB DuBois Middle School (Berkshire Regional), Suffield High School (CT), Frontier Regional High School, and homeschoolers. Another three schools participated via the recorded event, including The Bement School, Northampton High School, and Quabbin Regional High School.
by Bridgit Litchfield, volunteer and master gardener
What a soul-satisfying pleasure it is to share gardening tasks with other volunteers and work-study students from the local colleges. We have fun, laugh and get much accomplished while everyone’s ideas are sought, discussed and respected. Each comes to help with the Hitchcock Center’s mission — to educate and motivate into action citizens of all ages and abilities to become environmentally sound stewards of nature.
The CARES Act waives Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) for 2020, but you can still choose to take a Qualified Charitable Distribution from a traditional IRA starting at age 70½ to support a qualifying charity and eliminate taxes on that distribution.
In partnership with two municipalities and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the Hitchcock Center will receive a total of $13K to implement a comprehensive stormwater education project for fifth graders in Chicopee and Agawam. Funding will support Hitchcock Center educator Helen Ann Sephton to lead a series of virtual educational programs for every fifth-grade classroom in both towns. The material is designed to deepen students’ awareness and understanding of major storm water and water quality issues in their community.
The newest StoryWalk® has just been installed along the trail on the west side of the Center’s grounds. Families can now enjoying reading Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story by Anna Forrester.
After nearly twenty years of service, our remarkable executive director, Julie Johnson, has announced that she will be departing her leadership role at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment on June 30, 2021.
As she embarks on her life-long goal of starting her own consulting business, Julie is committed to shepherding in the next chapter of the organization and she will remain connected to the Center as one of our strongest community partners. Julie is the longest running director in the organization’s fifty-eight-year history, and her visionary leadership and passion for environmental education and advocacy is woven into the physical, philosophical, and operational DNA of the center.
By Julie Johnson
As I write, it has been five months to the day since we were forced by COVID-19 to close our doors to the public. In the hectic weeks that followed, our extraordinary Board and staff were determined that we would find new ways to educate the community and inspire action for a healthy planet in the midst of a pandemic.
By Jeffrey Mazur This spring I was excited to teach Digital Ecology again. It was the class I taught to my Homeschool II group in 2016 when I first joined the Hitchcock Center. Over the winter I had revamped the curriculum to incorporate new ideas like using stationary wilderness cameras and having my students create […]
by Katie Koerten
John Green is a naturalist, birdwatcher, photographer and nature tour leader living in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts. He’s been leading programs for the Hitchcock Center for the Environment and other environmental education organizations for almost five decades. As a fellow bird enthusiast and educator, I owe my foundation for bird song identification to John; he was my most formative birding mentor. He agreed to sit down with me this week as part of #BlackBirdersWeek for a conversation about his life and experiences as a birdwatcher and naturalist.