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 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 – 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

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.

Winter and Early Spring Birding
Evening Classes: 6:30-8:00pm, January 16, February 13, February 27, March 20, April 10
Field trips: see schedule below
Register here. Registration opens online Tuesday, January 8th at 9am.
Members $275/Nonmembers $325

Join Scott for the 2019 winter and early spring birding class. This year because of Scott’s schedule we have him from January through mid- April. This will give participants an opportunity to explore the winter birdlife here in the valley as well as along the north shore of Massachusetts. As March approaches we’ll start to observe the beginning of the waterfowl migration into western Mass and still have an opportunity to track down some of the winter specialties still lingering into March. Later in March we’ll make a day trip to Moose Bog, Vermont looking for more winter finches (Crossbills, Evening Grosbeaks, Siskins, Redpolls) and focus in on the Boreal species that call Moose Bog home. (Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Canada Jay and Boreal Chickadee)

The class ends with a trip back to Plum Island in mid-April, here we’ll see more waterfowl, early arriving Herons, shorebirds, hawks, warblers, (Yellow-rumped/Palm) and perhaps a Snowy Owl sitting in the dunes.

Field trip schedule

January 26: 7am-12pm Local

Winter finches, Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs etc. This winter is shaping up to be a “Finch winter”. Currently in December, small numbers of Siskins, Redpolls, Evening Grosbeaks and Pine Grosbeaks have made their way into Western Mass…. let’s hope the trend continues!

February 16 & 17: North Shore Weekend

Depart Hitchcock Center at 5am Saturday. We’ll visit areas of Southern New Hampshire, Salisbury State Park & Plum Island (Mass) on Saturday and visit Cape Ann on Sunday (Gloucester/Rockport)
Birds we hope to see, numerous sea ducks, (Common & King Eider, White-winged/Black & Surf Scoter, Harlequin Duck, Common Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Bufflehead, Common & Red-throated Loons, Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Great Cormorant, Glaucous & Iceland Gull, Rough-legged Hawk and Snowy Owl.) Participant’s will need to make their own motel reservations if staying overnight. We’ll carpool from the Hitchcock Center.

March 2: 7am- 12pm Local

Early waterfowl and winter specialties.

March 9: 7am-12pm Local

Waterfowl & open country birds.

March 23: Depart 5am. Moose Bog, Vermont (All Day)

(Weather permitting) Boreal Specialties & Winter Finches. Spruce Grouse/Black-backed Woodpecker/Canada Jay/Boreal Chickadee.

April 6: 7am-12pm Local
April 13: 5AM-dusk Plum Island (All Day)

Waterfowl, Gulls, Herons and maybe a lingering Snowy Owl.

Attracting Birds to Your Garden

with Ted Watt, Naturalist with the Hitchcock Center
Wednesday, April 3, 7-8:30pm
Members $8. Non-members $10
Space is limited, please register.

Join Ted for a presentation where we will look more closely at some of the birds that will choose to live in your yard and garden, if you create the right habitat for them. We’ll review the special lives of some of these birds and then talk about plantings and other means of attracting birds to share your habitat. Reconciliation Ecology is a new term to describe our efforts to make our living spaces friendlier to other species. Ted will provide a handout list of plantings that are “bird-friendly.”

Spotted Salamander Egg Mass Count – Sold Out

with Ted Watt and Jeff Mazur, Hitchcock Center Naturalists
Tuesday, April 9, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Free, Registration encouraged

Join us for our annual count of the tennis-ball sized jelly egg masses laid by the female salamanders in the red maple swamp just west of Henry Street. Counting these groups of eggs is a more reliable way of estimating the size of a population for these animals, since the animals move at various times of night depending on the temperature and rainfall. We start at the north end of the red maple swamp and slowly wade through, searching for and marking on our data sheets any egg masses that we find.  Water depths vary from a foot to 4 feet but you can bail out if you are getting out of your depth. You are sure to get wet and muddy and have a lot of fun! Training at identifying the egg masses will be provided. It is a unique way to experience nature and learn first hand about these special creatures and their life history.

The Arctic on Fire: The Impacts of Climate Change on Tundra Ecosystems

with Natalie Baillargeon and Rhys MacArthur
Thursday, April 25, 6:30- 8pm
FREE, Registration encouraged

Nathalie Baillargeon Photo Chris Linder

Due to climate change, the Arctic is experiencing an increase in wildfires. It is known that wildfires are going to alter the ecosystems; however, the specific biogeochemical impacts are unknown. Natalie Baillargeon and Rhys MacArthur participated in an expedition to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, AK last summer and begun a collaborative project investigating the impacts that wildfires have on plant composition and nutrient cycling. They are now joining us at the Hitchcock Center to share their experience and findings.

Rhys MacArthur Photo Chris Linder

Natalie Baillargeon is a second-year at Hampshire, studying environmental science and policy. Natalie’s research is investigating the impacts of wildfires on plant nutrient and nitrogen cycling in the Arctic.

Rhys MacArthur is currently in her last year at Hampshire College studying Ecology and Environmental Justice. Rhys’s research is focused around the effects wildfires have on the above-ground biomass of arctic tundra ecosystems and the ecological processes that drive vegetation composition.

May Migration Spring Birding Course

Dan Ziomek birding with a program participant.

with Dan Ziomek, WRSI’s Bird Songs
Saturdays: 4/27, 5/4, 5/11, and 5/18 from 7am – 12pm
Members $90 Non-members $115
Space is limited, Please register

Join Dan Ziomek in a variety of local habitats during peak birding migration.

Self-organization, Co-evolution, Resiliency, and Stability

with Tom Wessels
Friday, May 3, 7:00– 8:30pm
Suggested donation: $10
Registration appreciated

Self-organization is a natural process—that, as a system grows it also becomes more complex. The complexity is derived from the components of the system, such as species in an ecosystem which become ever more specialized through time and tightly integrated together creating systems that are energy efficient, resilient, and stable. The talk will focus on how this process works in ecosystems via co-evolution to generate the incredible biodiversity we see in nature. Many examples of regional co-evolved relationships will be used to illustrate how co-evolution works. The talk then shows how this process is a wonderful model for creating sustainable
human systems.

Tom Wessels is a terrestrial ecologist and professor emeritus at Antioch University New England where he founded the master’s degree program in Conservation Biology.  He has conducted workshops on ecology and sustainability throughout the country for over three decades.  He is the author of numerous books including, “Reading the Forested Landscape”, “The Myth of Progress”, “Forest.Forensics” and his latest publication, “Granite, Fire and Fog: The Natural and Cultural History of Acadia”.

Reading the Forested Landscape

with Tom Wessels
Saturday, May 4, 9am – 5pm
Members $45/Non-member $60
Space is limited, Register here

9:00am – Reading the Forested Landscape
This slide show presentation will introduce people to the ample visual evidence that can be seen in the woods to unravel former agricultural, logging, or wind histories in our forests. Using the shapes of trees, where scars are found on their trunks, stump decay patterns, the construction of stone walls, the surface topography of the forest floor and much more, Tom will show how any forest’s history can be deciphered  in great detail.

10:30am – Interpretive Field Walk to Elf Meadow

Lunch back at Hitchcock Center

2:30pm – Interpretive Field Walk to East end of Holyoke Range
The focus of these walks will be to interpret forest histories, unique adaptations in trees and plants, co-evolved interrelationships, geological history, or a combination of two or more of these themes.

Tom Wessels is a terrestrial ecologist and professor emeritus at Antioch University New England where he founded the master’s degree program in Conservation Biology.  He has conducted workshops on ecology and sustainability throughout the country for over three decades.  He is the author of numerous books including, “Reading the Forested Landscape”, “The Myth of Progress”, “Forest.Forensics” and his latest publication, “Granite, Fire and Fog: The Natural and Cultural History of Acadia”.

In Bloom in Western MA Conference

Saturday, June 8, 8am-4pm
Register here

Morning Keynote:
Creating Outdoor Spaces that Connect Children to the Natural World
with Sheila Williams Ridge, Director, Shirley G. Moore Lab School
University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

Antioch New England’s 2019 In Bloom season comes to fruition with this first foray to Amherst, Massachusetts. On June 8, 2019, Hitchcock Center for the Environment will be host for In Bloom in Western Mass. We are confident that the clematis, iris, peonies, AND dandelions will all be in bloom!

In the past, In Bloom workshops have catered to teachers of children between the ages of 3 and 6, but children grow up, so we’re catching up! This year our workshops are geared to preschool through third grade, so invite your elementary teacher colleagues.

The enthusiasm of early childhood professionals in their valiant efforts to get children outside continues to be inspirational and heartwarming. We’ve got exciting speakers, plus a host of new workshop presenters from our region, along with some old favorites.  We’ll also continue to spotlight the work of Antioch New England faculty members who teach in the Nature-based Early Childhood Certificate program.

During the lunch break we will show our short documentary film, The Best Day Ever: Forest Days in Vermont Kindergartens. This movie was filmed in public school kindergartens in Hartland and Norwich, Vermont and illustrates the benefits of one day each week spent outside, year-round, with Kindergarten children. Learn More…

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE SERIES

Indigenous Peoples Rights

with Nicole Friederichs, Suffolk University Law School, Suffolk’s Indigenous Peoples Rights Clinic, and
Cedric Woods, Director, Institute for New England Native American Studies
Wednesday, April 10, 6:30 – 8pm
FREE, Registration appreciated

Nicole Friederichs and Cedric Woods have been on the front line of many Native tribal struggles in Massachusetts and beyond. They will discuss current Native rights issues and some of the difficulties blocking the recovery of tribal lands and the recognition of tribes in our area. Prof. Friederichs has graduated many Suffolk Law students from her Indigenous Peoples Rights Clinic, where students work with tribes on a wide range of legal issues. She will talk about some of those student efforts. Prof. Woods directs the Institute of New England Native American Studies at UMASS/Boston and is a citizen of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. He combines over a decade of tribal government experience with a research background, and has served as the director of INENAS since 2009. The Institute’s purpose is to connect Native New England with university research, innovation, and education.

This event is sponsored by Hitchcock Center for the Environment and a grant to Hampshire College from the Roddenberry Foundation.

VOLUNTEER DAYS

Discovery Yard Garden Volunteer Work Days

Sunday, April 14, 12-3pm
Saturday, April 27, 12-3pm
Registration appreciated.

This spring we are creating our Discovery Yard and Teaching Gardens and we need your help.

The Colleen Kelley Discovery Yard will include natural play structures, log balance beams, a play thicket, a StoryWalk path, and benches and picnic tables for visitors and families to gather. Situated across from the main entrance to our Visitor Center, and adjacent to additional planned teaching gardens and pavilion, The Colleen Kelley Discovery Yard will play a central role in fulfilling the Hitchcock Center’s vision to create a truly world-class environmental education center. Learn more…

SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS

Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim: Memoir from the 2014 Great March for Climate Action

Ed Fallon, BoldIowa chief agitator, author, political activist for climate
Monday, April 8, 7 – 8:30pm
FREE, Registration encouraged

Ed Fallon will discuss and sign his book Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim. The book is Fallon’s memoir from the 2014 march from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, when a core of 35 marchers walked 3,100 miles in eight months. Three western Massachusetts residents who participated in the March are featured in the book.

Ed Fallon was raised in Saugus, Massachusetts and has lived in Des Moines, Iowa since 1984. His life of public service includes 14 years in the Iowa Legislature. Since 2009, Fallon has hosted a weekly talk show, the Fallon Forum. He also directs Bold Iowa, a non-profit organization that formed to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline and whose mission is to build rural-urban coalitions to fight climate change. Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim is his first book.

“While this book is deeply personal and reveals details of my life few are aware of, my primary motive in writing Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim was to fire-up people to take action against the existential threat of climate change,” said Fallon. “The urgency I felt during the March is now greater than ever, especially in light of October’s UN report and last month’s National Climate Assessment. I hope this story inspires people to mobilize to fight climate change immediately, before it’s too late.”

Making Love While Farming: A Field Guide to a Life of Passion and Purpose (Levellers Press, March 2019)

A book release event with local authors and Seeds of Solidarity founders, Deb Habib and Ricky Baruch
Thursday, April 11th 6:30- 8pm (6pm optional building tour)
Registration appreciated.

Making Love While Farming: A Field Guide to a Life of Passion and Purpose (Levellers Press, 2019)  is the savory story of a couple who challenged convention to shape a self-created life and grow a loving relationship and family. Their vision blossomed Seeds of Solidarity Farm and Education Center–a solar powered oasis and renowned organization that has taught thousands to ‘Grow Food Everywhere.’ This compelling book includes over fifty essays and stories that recount the humorous and harsh realities of a honeymoon of thousands of miles walked on pilgrimage from Auschwitz to Hiroshima; sixty combined years in the farm fields; adventures building and living off the grid; and the launch of a garlic and arts festival with neighbors and a hundred bucks. These, plus ‘field guides’ with practical DIY ideas, contemplative practices, and seasonal recipes unite under one cover to inspire readers to cultivate resilient and vibrant lives and communities.

Some advance praise:

“…an unforgettable journey that is riveting, funny, and always deeply moving and down to earth” – Mira Bartók, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, The Memory Palace

“…practical, concrete advice about how we can work together to empower others and change how our country thinks about food.” – Congressman Jim McGovern

“…their work to heal our relationships to land and each other is the tangible manifestation of their love.” – Leah Penniman, author of Farming While Black

“…an invaluable gift whose timeliness cannot be overstated. This is not a feel-good book. It is a get-out-and-do-good book. “ – Greg Watson, two term Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture

10th Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival

Saturday, April 27, 10am – 4pm
Amherst Town Common

Hitchcock has been a part of this festival since the beginning, come learn about all the amazing folks helping us build a more sustainable future.

Repair Public 

Sunday, April 28, 12 – 3:30pm
Donations and registration appreciated.

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 help you repair whatever you decide to bring in. Learn more…

Get the Buzz on the Latest Electric Vehicles

Thursday May 9th, 7-8:30pm
FREE,
Registration encouraged

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 for anyone who arrives around 6:45pm. 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.

Our Living Building Tour Program

with Jessica Schultz
First Fridays at 4pm: March 1, April 5, May 3, June 7
Third Wednesdays at 12pm: 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