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.

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.

Balanced and Barefoot Lecture: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident and Capable Children

Thursday, January 17, 6pm (snow date: Thursday March 14 at 6pm)
Friday, January 18, 1:30pm (snow date: Friday, March 15, 1:30pm)
*This lecture will be offered twice, once during the day and once in the evening.
Please register here.

Learn how outdoor play can benefit the sensory and motor development of children with pediatric occupational therapist, author and TimberNook Founder, Angela Hanscom when she presents a lecture on her recent book, Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children.

Today’s kids have adopted sedentary lifestyles filled with television, video games, and computer screens. But more and more, studies show that children need “rough and tumble” outdoor play in order to develop their sensory, motor, and executive functions. Disturbingly, a lack of movement has been shown to lead to a number of health and cognitive difficulties, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), emotion regulation and sensory processing issues, and aggressiveness at school recess break. So, how can you ensure your child is fully engaging their body, mind, and all of their senses? Learn more…

The Lost Forests of New England Film Screening

Followed by a panel with filmmaker Ray Asselin, joined by Bob Leverett and Bill Moomaw
Wednesday, January 23, 7-9pm
Registration and donations appreciated.

What were New England’s woodlands like prior to 1600? What do the small old-growth remnants look like today and what special values, if any, do they hold? Lost Forests of New England addresses these and other questions in an effort to bring clarity to a subject that is often lost in the mists of time. Producer Ray Asselin, a naturalist and filmmaker from Wilbraham, Massachusetts, narrates the video.

The film features key scientists and naturalists associated with the discovery and study of New England’s remaining old-growth woodlands. These experts discuss the structure, ecology, history, and value of New England’s oldest forests, and their future prospects. The audience is treated to a visual tour of woodlands that have endured for centuries, through compelling images that compare and contrast the old growth sites with today’s highly altered landscape. The result is a side-by-side comparison between original and reshaped woodlands that makes a strong case for preserving the ancient remnants. This film is intended for the general public, but will serve the needs of resource managers, conservationists, and environmental interpreters alike. It runs for 56 minutes and 46 seconds.

Owl Prowls with Dan Ziomek

Friday, January 25 and/or February 1, 8-10pm
Members $12 per night/Nonmembers $16 per night.
Registration required.

Dress INCREDIBLY warm because we’ll be standing around in the dark a lot. Bring your sharp ears, a flashlight, and a thermos of something hot to drink. We’ll meet at the Hitchcock Center. Youth 8 and older welcome with an adult.

What to do about Lymantria dispar dispar (aka Gypsy Moths)?

with Joe Elkinton, Professor in the Department of Environmental Conservation in the College of Natural Sciences at UMASS
Tuesday, February 26, 7 – 8:30pm

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. Free, registration and donations appreciated.


Ever the Land Film Screening

Wednesday, February 13, 7pm
Registration and donations appreciated.

This film explores the sublime bond between people and their land through a landmark architectural undertaking by one of New Zealand’s most passionately independent Maori tribes, Ngāi Tūhoe.

Dorceta Taylor: A Voice for Equity and Justice in the Environmental Movement

Wednesday, February 27, Location and Time: TBA
Registration (link coming soon!) and donations appreciated.   


Repair Public: Fixery through Community

Sunday, January 27, 12-4pm
Bring your broken things and get help repairing them.

Registration and donations appreciated.

Biomass, Why Should We Care?

with Mary Booth, Director of Partnership for Policy Integrity
Thursday, February 28, 7 – 8:30pm
Registration and donations appreciated.

Mary currently directs the Partnership for Policy Integrity’s science and advocacy work on greenhouse gas, air pollutant, and forest impacts of biomass energy.

Our Living Building Tour Program

First Fridays at 4pm: January 4, February 1, March 1, April 5, June 7 (no tour May 3)
Third Wednesdays at 12pm: 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