Rep. Jim McGovern to present grant at new site of Hitchcock Center in Amherst

By Diane Lederman for the Republican

June 29, 2016

AMHERST — Among his stops in the area Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern will visit the soon-to-open Hitchcock Center for the Environment as the center announces a federal grant awarded that puts it over its fundraising goal.

The center received the $148,586 federal grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services for its “Learning From Nature” exhibit design plan that will capture the interpretive potential of its artifacts and objects, according to a press release.

The center is building a 9,000-square-foot “living building” on Hampshire College land that is expected to open this fall.

Jessica Schultz, communications and living building project coordinator, said in an email that the center received the grant last year but waited to announce it to help leverage required matching funds. The grant brings the project over its $5.8 million goal with $5,821,448 raised, Schultz said.

Hitchcock officials are now raising an additional $900,000 to be used to create an outdoor classroom and trails, including one that’s handicap accessible.

Last month, the center announced a $500,000 grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Commission.

The new center is about two miles north on Route 116 from Hitchcock’s current site in a converted 4,500-square-foot carriage house at the Larch Conservation area, which is owned by the town.

The new building will allow the center to expand its hours, host more programs and accommodate more visitors.

With the Living Building Challenge, the project seeks to meet the most rigorous standard for green building in the world, and hopes to be the first “living” environmental education center in New England.

McGovern will also lead a discussion on putting an end to hunger Wednesday night at 5 p.m. at Greenfield Community College. That talk is open to the public, although the Hitchcock Center meeting is not.

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