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 series, natural 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 Study Club 2019
Sundays once per month, 9am-12pm (some class times may vary depending on topics)
Sign up for the remainder of the year: $140 members/$170 non-members.
Or, $30 per session.
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 – Program session filled
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 – Program session filled
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 – Program session filled
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 – Program session filled
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 – Program session nearly filled
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 – Program session filled
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 – Program session nearly filled
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. Note: This program session meets 6-9pm
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 – Program session filled
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 – Program session filled
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.
Second Annual Pollinator Celebration Day
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Members: $4 children/$7 adults
Non-members: $5 children/$8 adults
Come and celebrate the pollinators in our world at Hitchcock’s second annual Pollinator Celebration Day! We will have events and activities for the whole family, including:
- Pollinator Scavenger Hunt
- Magic Wings native butterflies
- Pollinator Story Time: Bees aren’t the only ones who help our flowers grow! Fly would like to be a pollinator just like her friends, butterfly and bee, but how does someone become a pollinator? In this interactive story-telling, children can be the puppeteers for a cast of pollinator characters. Volunteer children will listen and perform as a narrator tells how Fly learns what pollination is, why it’s important, and tries to find the perfect flower for her.
- Monarch Migration Obstacle Course
- Jennifer Unkles’ monarch butterfly citizen science program — learn how to tag monarchs, keep track of them and contribute to a growing body of data that helps us understand monarch migration.
- Make your own pennants and streamers, or bring your own pollinator costume from home for marching in our pollinator parade!
- Learn from an expert about how to make your garden more friendly to pollinators with the Western MA Pollinator Network! And, take home your own milkweed seeds to plant for monarchs and other insects in your garden, donated by That’s a Plenty Farm!
- Crooked Stick Pops
- Bring a picnic and stay for the whole thing. Remember, this event is rain or shine!
Pollinator Celebration Day is generously sponsored by Laura Townes and Shumway Services.
Hawk Watch at Skinner State Park
with Dan Ziomek and Dave King
Saturday, September 14th 10am-12pm
FREE, Donations appreciated.
Registration is required, and space is limited.
As the summer season shifts to autumn, a great migration gets underway as birds large and small head take to the skies for warmer climates. Join Dave King, U.S. Forest Service Wildlife Biologist, and Dan Ziomek, host of the long-running show “Bird Songs” on 93.9 The River, for this year’s Hawk Watch on the summit of Mount Holyoke.
Dave and Dan will provide an introduction to the hawks and other raptors that we see in our region, and we’ll talk about how to identify them. You’ll also learn about the ecology of hawks from nesting to migration, as well as about conservation efforts that aim to support hawks and other bird species, including the American kestrel. If weather conditions are favorable for flying, we may see a variety of hawks, falcons, and vultures soaring past. Binoculars or a scope are recommended and heavy rain cancels. This event is co-hosted by Kestrel Land Trust.
NOTE: Skinner State Park charges a $5 parking fee to drive up to the parking areas close to the Summit House. You may choose to park below the ranger gate and hike up to the Summit, avoiding the parking fee.
with Jennifer Unkles, Monarch tagger since 1997
Thursday, September 19, 4-6pm
Sunday, September 22, 2-4pm (May go offsite)
Help with this ongoing citizen science project and get up close and personal with Monarch butterflies. The last 2 years have been good for Monarchs! Fun for all ages.
Fall Birding Class
with Scott Surner
Wednesdays, 6:30-8pm, September 25, October 16, October 30, and November 13
Saturdays, field trip times vary, September 28-November 24
Members $300/Non-members $360
Registration opens HERE August 28 at 9am. Please note, this class typically fills with a wait list.
Join Scott Surner in all his favorite fall birding spots. This course will consist of 4 Wednesday evening classes and 10 field trips to exciting spots locally and throughout New England.
There will be four evening classes this fall. All programs are held on Wednesday evenings at the Hitchcock Center, starting at 6:30pm and generally end around 8pm. Dates: September 25, October 16, October 30, and November 13.
Saturday, September 28, 7am-12pm
Local Trip-Fall Warblers and other migrants.
Saturday, October 5, 7am-12pm
Local Trip- Fall Warblers and Sparrows.
Saturday, October 12, Depart at 6am
Milford Point, Connecticut. All Day. Migrating hawks, shorebirds, and many more. Bring lunch.
Saturday, October 19, 7am – 12pm
Local Trip. Sparrows & waterfowl.
Saturday, October 26, 7am – 12pm
Local Trip. Waterfowl.
Saturday, November 2, 6am – 3pm
Berkshire Lakes Trip. Waterfowl.
Saturday, November 9, 7am – 12pm
Local. Quabbin Reservoir.
Saturday, November 16, 7am – 12pm
Saturday, November 23-24, Cape Cod. Overnight.
We’ll visit areas from Chatham down to Provincetown. Seabirds, Gannets, late Shearwaters, Gulls, sea ducks, and late migrants. If members of the class decide that this trip is too long, we can substitute the Cape Cod trip with a one-day trip to Cape Ann (North Shore). Note that participants will be responsible for their own motel reservations for the overnight trip to the Cape (more information at the beginning of the class).
Local trips will be to birding destinations in Hampshire, Franklin or Hampden Counties. All trips leave from the Hitchcock Center at the designated times (carpooling encouraged) and we make time for coffee and restroom stops.
Explore an Old Growth Habitat
with Bob Leverett
Sunday, November 3, 10am-1pm
Join our Valley’s old-growth forest expert, Bob Leverett, on a walk at the Mohawk Trail State Forest. Come learn what old-growth trees of a variety of species really look like and how their appearance depends partly on their habitat and growing conditions. We will stroll leisurely on graded roads and trails with our eyes trained to the heights as we explore the fascination of these trees. We will visit the Elder Grove to pay our respects to some of these ancient residents. Bob will explain how he measures the trees and update us on the tallest trees. Co-founder of the Eastern Native Tree Society, Bob is brimming with fascinating information!
Meet at the Mohawk State Forest Headquarters building, just off Rt. 2 in Charlemont at 10:00 am. We will finish around 1:00 pm. Dress for weather and bring snacks and water.
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE SERIES
Women of Cancer Alley Film & Conversation: Short Films by Women Living Alongside the Petrochemical Industry & Conversation with Frontline Activists from Louisiana
Wednesday, September 18, 7:00-8pm,
Reception and conversation with presenters 8-8:30pm, light refreshments
Free, donations requested
In anticipation of the global climate strike on Friday, September 20th, we welcome The Women of Cancer Alley, a first-ever collection of films made by women who live adjacent to chemical plants, tank farms and refineries along the Mississippi River in south Louisiana.
Seven two-minute films depict the lives, concerns and activism of eight women working to stop the country’s planned build out of plastics plants, including a proposed Formosa complex of 14 facilities that will produce single use plastics and an estimated 26 million tons of greenhouse gases in the already-burdened St. James Parish. The nearby community in St. John Parish has the highest cancer risk in the nation because of unregulated emissions from Denka’s neoprene plant. These communities are ground zero to halt what would be an enormous climate, sustainability and environmental disaster — industry plans to expand by 35% over the next 6 years! Come talk with two of the grassroots leaders mobilizing to keep families from the harm of additional toxic emissions, while protecting the global climate from more greenhouse gases.
This program will feature the film shorts as well as a discussion. You can read more about this here and here and here. Join Anne Rolfes Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Sharon Lavigne Founder & Director of RISE St. James in conversation.
Please check back for more volunteer days in the fall.
Our Living Building Tour Program
with Jessica Schultz
First Fridays at 4pm: September 6, October 4, November 1, December 6
Third Wednesdays at 12pm: August 21, September 18, October 16, November 20, December 18
FREE but please register online
Come meet our newest educator – our Certified Living 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.