By Kevin Gutting
AMHERST – Participants in the “Jumping Mice” group, for kindergartners and first graders, hiked to what’s known as the “Squirrel Kitchen” to enjoy some nature play during the first day of the February vacation program at the Hitchcock Center on Monday.
By Cori Urban
During Living Building tours at Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Executive Director Julie M. Johnson likes to hear young students exclaim, “That was so cool!”
By Scott Merzback Staff Writer
Already well known for its environmental education when Julie Johnson arrived as executive director, the Hitchcock Center for the Environment has attained national prominence in confronting climate change and promoting environmental knowledge — and its influence continues to grow.
February 17, 2020 Stan interviews Town Councilor Cathy Schoen and Hitchock Center Executive Director Julie Johnson about public art projects happening in Amherst. Amherst Media and former Massachusetts State Senate President Stan Rosenberg team up for “Byline with Stan Rosenberg,” an issue-oriented local government news program. “Byline” will tackle town, regional and state news topics […]
A new program in which more than 200,000 families can receive discounted or free admission to cultural attractions across Massachusetts launched Friday at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment.
By Ahmed Abusharkh
The oceans are rising, the animals are dying, and the Earth is heating up. Young people know it. Adults know it. The politicians and millionaires refusing to address the issues know it. The question is, “Who’s going to do anything about it?” Seemingly, our hope rests on the shoulders of young people and the future generation of green leaders. They have the biggest stake in the game, given that they have to deal with whatever environmental catastrophes that are handed down to them for the longest. Even though it might not be their fault, even though they didn’t build the system that pumps out millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, they’re going to have to figure this out if we want a chance at a cleaner Earth in the future. Luckily, the two Living Building Challenge sites at Hampshire College are helping sculpt the next generation of young environmental leaders who can do something about it.
What happens when two architects, two research scientists, and an advocate for healthy buildings walk into a room? If their assignment is to influence the architecture, engineering, and construction (A/E/C) community to embrace the design of healthier buildings, they might pose these questions: If you knew that a building product you selected for your project caused cancer, you wouldn’t specify it, would you? If you knew that day-care furniture was exposing children to a vast array of toxic chemicals, you wouldn’t buy it, would you? If you knew that stain-retardant treatment was poisoning our water supply, would you still select white carpet and upholstery, which won’t stand up to use without that treatment?
The Hitchcock Center for the Environment aims to teach environmental literacy to all ages, while seeking sustainable solutions through the study of natural systems. To that end, this Certified Living Building not only helps students recognize the importance of science and engineering in meeting many of the environmental challenges we face today, but also that the natural world itself holds abundant wisdom and solutions.
Thank you for your recent article, “A topic worth tackling,” about teachers’ struggles to teach climate change in the classroom. As an elementary public school teacher who is also a board member of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, I would like to add that this organization offers guidance and concrete lessons about climate change to teachers, including field trips, teacher trainings, and curricula that meet Massachusetts state standards. At my elementary school, the Hitchcock Center helps students and teachers understand the intersections of natural science, engineering, technology and design as critical to meeting many of the environmental challenges that confront society today, such as generating renewable energy, maintaining healthy supplies of fresh water, and mitigating climate change.
In 2016, the Hitchcock Center for the Environment moved into its new Living Building on West Street in Amherst. Staying true to its mission, this new building was constructed to achieve the most rigorous green building certification in the world. The sustainable building allowed the Center to expand its programs and to use the building itself as a teaching tool to support sustainable engineering and greater awareness of our environment. Producer Dave Fraser visited the Center recently and shares this story.