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.

NATURAL HISTORY PROGRAMS

Nature All Year Study Club 2018

Sundays once per month, 9am-12pm (some class times may vary depending on topics)
April 29: Vernal Pools with Molly Hale
May 13: Neotropical Migrants with Ted Watt
June 17: Fireflies with Ted Watt (in the evening)
July 22: Turtles with Derek Yorks
Members: $250/Non-members: $300 for the full course OR $30 per class
Register here
Join us for our fifth 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, from broad habitat perspectives to close 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. Note: A change has been made to this program since it was originally published. The program will meet March-December, 2018.

Woodcock: Skydancer

with Dan Ziomek, local birder and naturalist
Friday, April 13, 8-10pm
Members $12/Non-members $16
Register here

Have you heard the telltale peep of the woodcock looking for a mate to do its early spring sky dance? If not you are in for a treat that will likely become an annual tradition, you’ll be hooked. Join bird song radio personality and our favorite garden advisor Dan Ziomek to enjoy this special spring event.

Henry Street Spotted Salamander Egg Mass Count

with Ted Watt, Hitchcock Center Naturalist and Brandon Hedrick, Post Doctoral Fellow at Harvard University
A weekend afternoon in April, depending on weather
Register to be notified of the date
The ‘famous’ Henry Street spotted salamanders will, ‘hopefully,’ have laid their egg masses in the swamp by early April. And we want to get out there and see how many there are! This is a good way to census a population that is otherwise tough to count even under the best conditions. We’ll be up to our hips in cold muddy water, looking for and counting the tennis-ball-sized, clear, jelly clusters of eggs! Sound like fun? Join us! Training provided.

Timber Rattlesnakes in Massachusetts

with Anne Stengel, Graduate researcher at UMASS
Thursday, April 12, 7-8pm
FREE
Registration and donations appreciated

Anne has been surveying timber rattlesnake populations in western Massachusetts. She is one of the most up-to-date and well-informed people to help us understand the life history and amazing adaptations of this fascinating reptile.  She will share images of the snakes she has located and explain how she tracks individual animals. You will leave with a deeper understanding of this much-maligned and important member of the natural systems in our area.

Adventures When Nothing Goes to Plan: A Story Slam from Wildlife Scientists

Thursday, April 26th 5:30-7:00pm
FREE
Registration and donations appreciated

Too often, the stories behind conducting science are kept within the science community. Conducting wildlife science research inevitably involves facing adversity like dangerous field conditions, risky data collection methods, and confrontations with mother nature, and this makes for some great stories. Adversity can also create unexpected moments of beauty, adventure, and emotional power that can be life changing. The Pioneer Valley hosts many wildlife scientists who conduct domestic and international research. They are ready to share their adventures with you in a story slam. Come join us for this story slam and hear these untold stories from wildlife scientist from the Pioneer Valley.  

Nature Photography: Rock, Flower, Water

with John Green, naturalist and photographer
ROCK: Sunday, April 29, 9-11:30am at the Sunderland Water Falls
FLOWER & TREE: Sunday, May 20, 9-11:30am at Holyoke Range
WATER: Sunday, June 10, 9-11:30am at Sunderland Mt. Toby
Single Class: Members $20/Non-members $25
3 Class Series: Members $50/Non-members $65
Registration required
Join naturalist and photographer John Green to explore one or all three of these themes of nature photography. Bring tripods and extra lenses if you have them, but they are not necessary.

Bird Migration with John Green

Saturday, May 5, 7-10am
$15 members/$20/Non-members
Registration required
Warbler migration is a May treat not to missed. John has a great ear and will teach you the calls of birds even if you can’t get your binoculars on them. All birding levels welcome. Bring binoculars if you have them.

Exploring Lake Warner

with Ted Watt, Hitchcock Center Naturalist together with Morse Hill Canoe Guides
Sunday, May 6, 10am-12pm
$10 Members/$15 Non-members
Registration required. Space is limited.
Sponsored by Friends of Lake Warner. 

Kingfishers, painted turtles, great blue herons, bullfrogs, water snakes… we’ll be searching for them! We’ll paddle slowly around the lake, looking for birds and plants and any other nature we can find. Bring binoculars, snacks and water, sun and bug protection. We will provide canoes, paddles, life jackets, and canoe instruction. Not recommended for paddlers younger than grade 4. Canoes and instruction will be supplied by Morse Hill, certified canoe instructors.

Wildflower Walk at Bear Swamp, Ashfield

with Nancy Goodman, Naturalist and Plant Conservation Volunteer with the New England Wild Flower Society
Saturday, May 12, 10am-1pm
Members $15/Non-members $18
Registration required

Come explore this very special, rich, mesic forest preserve of the Trustees of Reservations. We should find abundant spring ephemerals including Dutchman’s Breeches, Spring-beauty, Bishops Cap, and Trilliums and more. We will check out the awakening of the trees and other signs of spring. This hike is primarily moderate with some steeper spots. Wear water resistant boots and bring bug spray, field guides, rain gear if needed, plenty of water and a snack. Directions to the meeting location will be provided upon registration.

Book Club: Braiding Sweetgrass

with Rae Griffiths, Teaching Creatures and Casey Beebe, Hitchcock Center
Wednesday, May 23, 7-8:30pm
FREE,
Registration appreciated
As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. 

“A journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” -Elizabeth Gilbert

Morning Nature Walk for Seniors

with John Green, naturalist
Thursday, May 24, 9-11am
FREE, registration required
Join John Green a lifelong naturalist as he ambles through a habitat looking and listening. This is prime warbler migration so you are bound to see and hear great birds.

Edible Wild Plants Presentation

with John Root
Tuesday, June 12, 7-8pm
$8 Members/$10 Non-members
Registration required
This is a powerpoint presentation offering a comprehensive introduction to identification and uses of wild plants for food and beverage. Distinguishing characteristics, seasons of availability, habitats, methods or preparation and nutritional and medicinal value of our region’s most common and appealing wild plants are discussed.

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE SERIES

The Hitchcock Center is excited to begin a new series on Environmental Justice. During the coming year, speakers will address a wide range of hot conservation and political events that have drastically affected the most vulnerable communities – low-income neighborhoods, Native tribes, communities of color, and others in the path of industrial expansion and governmental policies.

Environmental Justice in New England — An Overview 

with Pete Westover
April 11, 7-8:30pm
FREE,
Donations and registration appreciated
Pete Westover will open the Hitchcock Center’s 2018 Environmental Justice series with a dramatic illustrated examination of Native land loss and recovery efforts in New England, the battle for control of the Penobscot River, threats to national monuments and sacred sites, urban and rural “food deserts,” Connecticut Valley energy and air-quality issues, Hydro-Quebec and its impacts on Cree culture, and the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities. He will also illustrate the environmental justice work of Conservation Law Foundation and other organizations relating to Boston Harbor public access and resiliency, Mystic River cleanup work, Massachusetts public transportation expansion, the Springfield biomass proposal, the coal-free New England campaign, and the Exxon-Mobil case.

An evening with Conservation Law Foundation (CLF)

with Brad Campbell, CLF President
Thursday, May 31, 6-8pm
FREE
Donations and registration appreciated

You’re invited to an evening with Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) at the Hitchcock Center in Amherst. CLF, a New England-wide environmental advocacy organization, forges lasting solutions for the region’s most critical environmental challenges. CLF President, Brad Campbell, will share the urgent work CLF is doing on the ground across Massachusetts and New England. CLF was one of the main players that fought to shutter the Mt. Tom coal plant, and today is hard at work pushing back against federal rollbacks, fighting to end our region’s addiction to fossil fuels, and moving forward our clean energy economy. Light refreshments will be served.

VOLUNTEER DAYS

Nature Play and Learning Places Garden Work Days

Saturday, March 31, 12-3pm
Sunday, April 22, 12-3pm
Saturday, May 5, 12-3pm
Sunday, June 3, 12-3pm
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.

SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS

Our Living Building Tour Program

First Fridays at 4pm: April 6, May 4, June 1
Third Wednesdays at 12pm: April 18, May 16, June 20
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.

Forests and Climate Series: Bringing Together Science and Political Will

Join the Hitchcock Center and the Massachusetts Forest Rescue Campaign in this Forests and Climate Change Series. Suggested donation $10/person and registration appreciated.

Get the Buzz on Electric Vehicles

with Sally Pick, SJP Environmental Consulting
Tuesday, April 10th, 7-8:30pm
FREE register here
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.

Amherst Sustainability Fair

Saturday, April 14, 10am-4pm
Amherst Town Common
Join the Hitchcock Center for this Amherst tradition of sharing ways to make our world a better place. Learn more…

Organic Lawn Care: What is lawn? – POSTPONED

with Andrew Hatfield, Pioneer Valley Organic Landscaping
Saturday, April 21, 1-2pm
Donations and registration appreciated
Lawn is not simply grass. It is a relationship between grass plants, soil conditions, and a complex soil ecology. This ecology is known as the soil food web. A handful of healthy soil has billions of microflora and fauna, fungi, earthworms, micro and macro arthopods, etc. Not every green lawn is a healthy lawn. This living system is in stark contrast to a chemical lawn care system. Whether home-owner or professionally applied, chemical based fertilizers and pesticides destroy the delicate soil food web, killing the soil, creating a breeding ground for pest and weed problems. This creates a downward spiral of chemical-dependency to maintain a green-looking lawn, and to address the problems that chemicals have caused in the first place. What is the organic approach? A holistic approach to plant health care that includes soil health, regeneration, and appropriate cultural techniques. Through working with the elements of a healthy soil, instead of against them, it encourages greater soil health and, over time, conditions the soil to a nearly self-sustaining level requiring few, if any, added inputs.

Repair Public: Fixery through Community

Sunday, April 22, 12-3:30pm
Sunday, July 22, 12-3:30pm
Donations and registration appreciated
Repair Public is an exercise in community resourcefulness. The basic idea is to encourage people to learn how and/or where to fix broken items instead of tossing them into a landfill and buying replacements. The participants and facilitators are local community members just like you. You bring a broken item that you want help repairing as well as a willingness to try to fix it. There will be repair facilitators on-hand to help you figure out how to fix your treasure, each with one or more areas of specialty. We’ll have various tools available for use, as well as some basic supplies like screws, tape, glue, wire nuts, needles, threads, and probably appliance cord with some plug-ends. With all these ingredients, we intend to repair whatever you decide to bring in – To learn more https://repairpublic.org/.

The Home Garden: Small Scale Practices for Soil improvement and Carbon Sequestration 

with Sharon Gensler, Northeast Organic Farming Association
Tuesday, April 24, 7-8:30pm
$6 Suggested donation, registration appreciated

Maintaining living plant cover is one of the essential practices of building soil health. This workshop provides practical guidance on using cover crops in a small-scale, non-mechanized, no-till context to improve soil health for growing more nutritious food, more vibrant ornamentals and for sequestering atmospheric carbon into the soil. Sharon is a homesteader /organic grower/educator 38+ years using no-till & cover crop soil building practices on a small scale. She and her partner and are co-directors of the Wild Browse Farm and Sustainability Center on their homestead in Wendell, MA. She is the NOFA/Mass Soil Carbon Outreach Coordinator.

Native Plants: What’s Good for Nature is also Easier on the Gardener!

with Dan Jaffe
Sunday, April 29, 2-3:30pm
Registration opens March 22
Co-sponsored by the Hitchcock Center and the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association
Learn about the importance and ease of creating native gardens which are long-lasting, lovely and bolster biodiversity by supporting native insects, including pollinators and other wildlife such as nesting or migrating birds and mammals including us. Dan’s discussion will include underutilized native shrubs for rural, suburban and urban gardens and why plants are better than mulch. Historically, native flowers, ground covers, shrubs, trees, ferns and grasses evolved and adapted perfectly to New England’s growing conditions so they don’t need pampering. His presentation, like the book, will help even novice gardeners learn how to landscape in a way that helps heal our ailing environment. The one and a half hour presentation is followed by a book signing and mini-tours of the gardens by master gardeners. Books will be available for purchase.

Presenter: Dan Jaffe, Propagator and Stock Grower at New England Wild Flower Society’s Garden in the Woods, and co-author with colleague Mark Richardson of the new book, Native Plants for New England Gardens. The 100 native plants selected by the authors and photographed by Dan are stunning enough to grace any garden, and are accompanied by their expert advice about the best place to plant each species and how to care for it.

Gathering Rain: 3-Season Rainwater Collection for Outdoor Use

with Kris Walter
Saturday, June 9, 2-4 pm in Greenfield
Members $15/Non-members $18
Registration required, space is limited.
You’d be surprised how much water comes off your roof in a short rain storm. Gathering rain is a straight-forward and practical step you can take to abundantly provide for your outdoor water needs. Come learn the important concepts in system design, ask questions about the expandable 100 gallon do-it-yourself kit I’ll have on hand that could get you up and running more quickly than starting from scratch, and afterwards tour the systems I’ve been using for years to water my gardens. Whether you take what you learn and build it all yourself, or make use of a DIY kit in your system design, make this the year that you start gathering rain.

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment