Adult 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 on this page by program category. Click the category to get there faster: environmental justice seriesnatural history, sustainability, volunteer days,  To view programs chronologically, please visit our calendar.

Did you know that your EBT card can be used to access membership and programs at the Hitchcock Center? Learn more about the EBT Card to Culture Program.


Nature Study Club 2019

Sundays once per month, 9am-12pm (some class times may vary depending on topics)
Full Year: Members: $265/Non-members: $315
Register here

Join us for our sixth 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, varying from broad habitat-wide perspectives to the finer 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. 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.

Individual Session Descriptions

January 13: Bark: Getting to Know Trees in Winter with Michael Wojteck

Michael will help us look more closely at the bark of local tree species. Furrows, ridges, plates and more will provide a vocabulary and train your eye for these characters. You’ll gain confidence in your skills at identifying trees without their leaves. Michael is the author of Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast and has lots to share about these wonderful plants!

February 10: Mammal Tracking  with Kathy Dean

Put on your woolies and join us for a morning of following some of our local mammals in their travels through the forest. Kathy will help us distinguish different tracks and also the patterns in the snow as the animals move. We will try our skill at determining what different animals were doing and why.

March 3: Dam Demolition and Riparian Restoration with Dana McDonald

We will visit the sites where 2 dams have been removed in Pelham. Dana will help us see how the renewed flow of the streams supports new habitats and new niches for stream life. You will gain deeper insight into these positive steps in restoring some of the changes we have made in our environment.

April 28: Ecology and Spring Fora of a Rich Forest with Glenn Motzkin

A rich forest is one where the soils are less acidic and richer in nutrients. Glenn will take us to a local site with these characteristics and you will see how the plant communities here are different from those we usually see. Spring wildflowers should be in full bloom!

May 5: Spring Bird Migration with Ted Watt

We’ll get out early and search for some of the beautiful birds that return in May to nest and raise their young in our New England woods and fields. We’ll hope to see warblers, vireos and orioles and more! And we will listen to the various songs and start to distinguish some of the patterns of notes.

June 2: Sea Lampreys in the Fort River with Boyd Kynard

Boyd will get us up close and personal with some sea lampreys that are intent on only one thing: mating and laying eggs to create the next generation. He will share with us the amazing life cycle of these fish and explain how they do not feed during this time, living off their stored reserves to get them through this journey.

July 14: Herbivorous Insects with Charley Eiseman

Come out to the fields and woods to find and learn more about all sorts of insects that rely on plants for food. We’ll capture a variety and learn their names, the group of insects they belong in, and more about their amazing life histories.

August 25: Local Fungi Exploration with Dianna Smith

We will search the forests for the various fungi species that are fruiting in late summer. Dianna knows the specific name of whatever mushrooms we can find, as well as fascinating details about their life cycle and natural history. Come learn how to distinguish some of these very important organisms.

September 15: Singing Insects with Laurie Sanders

We will gather for a late summer concert of insect calls – crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids. Laurie will help us sort out categories of insect calls and then narrow down the possibilities of what we hear. We will go outdoors and listen after dark to the spectacular concert that graces our late summer fields and forests.

October 6: Invasive Plant Ecology with Martha Hoopes

Martha is a plant ecologist at Mt. Holyoke College who spends time learning about and researching invasive plants. She will present a unique look at these species and help us understand more of the why and the where behind the success of these plants.

November 17: Ecology and Management of Montague Sand Plains with Glenn Motzkin

We will explore the sand plain habitat with an eye for the unique plant communities found there. Much of the plains are managed by the State and Glenn will explain the thinking behind the recent timber cuts on the plains and how this supports some of the rare species that are found there.

December 8: Natural History Hike in the Quabbin with Ted Watt

We’ll hike into the Quabbin wilderness, getting a deeper understanding of the habitats that are preserved there, and the plants and animals that live there. If there is snow we will follow some of the creatures moving through and learn more about their lives.

Monarch Tagging

Jennifer Unkles, Monarch tagger since 1997
Thursday, September 20, 4-6pm (FREE)
Sunday, September 23rd, 2pm (at our Pollination Celebration Day, fee for event)
Registration appreciated

Help with this ongoing citizen science project and get up close and personal with Monarch butterflies. It’s a good year for Monarchs! Fun for all ages.

Fungi Field Trip

Dianna Smith, Pioneer Valley Mycological Association
Sunday, September 23, 1:00-3:30pm
Members $15/Non-members $20, Space is limited.
Register here
Join Dianna for an in-depth exploration of our fungi at Cadwell Forest in Pelham. She can identify to species whatever we find and fill us in on each species’ unique adaptations, identifying characters, and ecology. You will leave her walks with a greatly increased knowledge base of our local mushrooms and motivation to keep learning on your own. See her web site for more information. Dress for being outdoors. Directions to the meeting site will be provided prior to the program.

Pollination Celebration Day

Sunday, September 23, 11am-3pm
Members: $4 Children/$7 Adults
Non-members: $5 Children/$8 Adults
Buy tickets

Come and celebrate the pollinators in our world at Hitchcock’s first Pollination Celebration Day! We will have events and activities for the whole family, including honey tasting, a pollinator scavenger hunt, and a monarch migration obstacle course. Make your own wings and march in our pollinator parade! See a demonstration of how to make your own waterproof beeswax container lids! Attend our workshop on how to make your garden more friendly to pollinators! And of course, learn about magnificent monarch butterflies, learn how to tag them, keep track of them and contribute to science. Bring a picnic and stay for the whole thing! This event is rain or shine. Check out the schedule of events.

Fall Birding

with John Green, naturalist
September 30, 8-10am
Members $10/Non-members $15
Space is limited, registration required
Join John Green to explore Gate 29 at the Quabbin Reservoir looking and listening for fall birds, you may catch some migrating warblers as you move through this varied habitat.

Morning Nature Walk for Seniors

with John Green, naturalist
Thursday, October 11, 9-11am
FREE, Space is limited, registration required
Have you visited the new Sylvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge Fort River Handicapped Accessible Trail? Join John Green for a nature walk there during peak fall foliage.

Viewing the Night Sky

with James Lowenthal, Professor of Astronomy at Smith College, International Dark-Sky Association
Friday, October 12, 8-9pm
Friday, November 2, 7:30- 8:30pm
Friday, December 7, 7-8pm
FREE, Registration appreciated
James will provide telescopes and help us view constellations, planets, galaxies and stars from our Hitchcock hilltop. We’ll discuss what we are viewing including science facts as well as legends from other cultures that teach deeper lessons about how we can connect with the sky. Dress for the weather, bring a flashlight, and be prepared to expand your horizons!

Hike Mt Warner Reservation

with Ted Watt, Hitchcock Center Naturalist
Sunday, October 14, 9:30am-noon
Members $10/Non-members $12
Space is limited, registration required.
Take some time to reconnect with nature. Join us to explore the Trustees of Reservations Mount Warner Reservation in North Hadley. The reserve was protected in 2014 and offers some beautiful views of the Valley looking north. Walking will be mostly on gentle slopes, and some a little steeper, in mature woodland with mixed hickory and oak and hemlock. We’ll look at trees and any other interesting natural history events we happen across. Bring binoculars and come prepared for a relaxing, learning time in nature.

What to do about Lymantria dispar dispar (aka Gypsy Moths)  – Cancelled, to be rescheduled

Joe Elkinton, Professor in the Department of Environmental Conservation in the College of Natural Sciences at UMASS
Wednesday, October 24, 7 pm
Free, registration and donations appreciated.

Populations of Gypsy Moths (Lymantria dispar) have been building in the Valley during these last several years. Many of us have experienced this first hand. Come learn about this insect, its life cycle, and preferred food tree species. What are the predators and diseases that can control this moth? What can be done to reduce infestations? And what can we do as property owners for our own trees and woods? Joe has been researching this species and will bring up-to-date information about this rapidly changing field of inquiry. Come ready to take notes and ask your questions.

From Fear to Confidence: Preventing Tick-Borne Illnesses

with Dr. Stephen Rich, UMASS “Tick Lab”
Tuesday, November 27, 6:30-8:00pm
Donations and registration appreciated.
Have you found a tick on yourself or your child and felt worried? Are you concerned about tick-borne disease? The Hitchcock Center is delighted to welcome back Dr. Stephen Rich, chief medical zoologist at the UMASS Amherst Laboratory of Medical Zoology. Steve will present his work at the “Tick Lab” and his important findings over their 12 years of tick testing. In addition, Ted Watt will open with a brief presentation of the natural history and life cycles of the ticks that can be found in our area. Our goal is for you to leave more informed, at ease, and prepared for preventing tick-borne illness!


Current Environmental Justice Legislation & Initiatives

Wednesday, December 5th, 7-8:30pm
Registration appreciated

Featuring Ellen Story, Claire Higgins, and Jo Comerford.

Ellen Story: Ellen was the Member of the House of Representatives from the 3rd Hampshire District for 24 years. As a congresswoman, she worked to pass legislation that sought to lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce exposure to toxic substances in homes, schools and workplaces, and ensure that everyone in Massachusetts has a right to clean air, water and food.

Claire Higgins: Claire was the Mayor of Northampton for 12 years. She is now the Executive Director of Community Action Pioneer Valley, where she is focused on providing economic stability and security to the Pioneer Valley’s most vulnerable residents.

Jo Comerford: Jo won this year’s State Senate Race for the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester County Senate district. Before running for the State Senate, she worked as the Executive Director of the National Priorities Project, a Campaign Director for MoveOn.Org, and as the Director of the Western Massachusetts Regional Office of the American Friends Service Committee.

Organized in partnership with Pete Westover, Hampshire College, and the Roddenberry Foundation.


Nature Play and Learning Places Garden Work Days

Sunday, September 30, 1-3pm
Sunday, October 21, 1-3pm
Registration appreciated
The Hitchcock Center is expanding its nature play area. Join this community effort and come help us dig, weed, plant, mulch, haul, etc. Bring tools and gloves if you have them.


Get the Buzz on Electric Vehicles

Sally Pick, SJP Environmental Consulting
Tuesday, September 25, 7-8:30pm
Donations and registration appreciated
Curious about electric vehicle (EVs)s? How they work, how far they can go on a charge? An increasing number of electric vehicles on the market are competitively priced and can go over 100 miles on a charge. This workshop will start with a brief ride around the parking lot in a plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt. Participants will learn about EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs available, their features and range, big incentives that bring down their purchase price, charging an EV and matching the right EV and charger with your driving habits and needs. You’ll also learn about pairing solar power for your home with the charging demands of your car, and when to charge for the lowest carbon impact.

How to Talk about Environmental Issues

with Ezra Markowitz, Assistant Professor of Environmental Decision-Making
Thursday, December 11, 6pm-7:30pm
Donations and registration appreciated
Most people spend very little time talking about environmental issues with their colleagues, friends and family members. Yet research shows that these are exactly the conversations we need to be having in order to promote greater public engagement with the conservation and sustainability challenges we face. Join Ezra Markowitz Umass professor and researcher of Climate Ethics and Intergenerational decision-making and the environment. In this talk, he will present some of the research he and others have done on the key role of interpersonal communication—everyday social interactions and conversations—in conservation efforts. He will then highlight how this work can be used to support pro-environmental decision-making across a variety of issues. Registration and donations appreciated.

Our Living Building Tour Program

First Fridays at 4pm: December 7, January 4, February 1, March 1, April 5, June 7 (no tour May 3)
Third Wednesdays at 12pm: December 19, January 16, February 20, March 20, April 17, May 15, June 19
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. Tours typically last from 1-1.5 hours. 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.

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment