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, WIC, or ConnectorCare card can be used to access membership and programs at the Hitchcock Center? Learn more about the EBT Card to Culture Program.


Spring Birding Class – Only 3 spots remaining!

with Scott Surner
Evening classes at Hitchcock: Wednesdays, 6:30-8pm, February 12, April 1, April 15, June 10
Fieldtrips: see schedule below
$315 for members/$380 Non-members
Registration opens online HERE January 15 at 9am. Follow the link to set-up a registration reminder!

Join this Hitchcock tradition! Scott has been leading classes since 1979. Space is limited and in high demand.

Fieldtrip Schedule — All trips leave from Hitchcock Center

February 15-16: Plum Island to Cape Ann Weekend

Depart 5am and return Sunday afternoon:
Plum Island to Cape Ann: Participants will need to reserve a motel room if they’re going for both days. Wintering waterfowl, Alcids, Snowy Owl, Purple Sandpipers etc. More info to come.

February 22, 7am-12pm

Local. Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, American Tree Sparrows, early waterfowl and wintering raptors.

March 21, 7am-12pm

Local waterfowl: Hadley, Hatfield and perhaps Turner’s Falls.

March 28, 7am-12pm

Local, waterfowl: Hadley, Hatfield

April 11, 7am-12pm

Local, early migrants: Eastern Phoebes, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blackbirds, Pine & Palm Warblers and probably more waterfowl.

April 18, 7am-12pm

Local migrants: Vireo’s, Warblers, Sparrows and more.

May 2, 5am: all day

Plum Island: waterfowl, herons, shorebirds, raptors, warblers, etc. Bring lunch.

May 23, 6am-12pm

Local: migration at its peak.

May 30, 6am-12pm

Local: Mt. Holyoke for local breeders.

June 12-14: Connecticut Lakes Weekend, Pittsburg, NH

Depart early Friday morning from Hitchcock Center and return late afternoon on Sunday. Boreal Birds (Canada Jays, Black-backed woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee and Spruce Grouse), breeding warblers, sparrows, swallows, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and always a surprise or two. More info after signing up.

Amherst’s Famous Spotted Salamanders

with Ted Watt and Jeff Mazur, Hitchcock Center Naturalists
Wednesday, March 4, 7 pm
Registration encouraged

Join Ted and Jeff for a talk about spotted salamanders, the ones that migrate under Henry Street in North Amherst. We will explain their wonderful yearly life cycle, including the first night of spring migration that has come to be called Big Night. We’ll also describe some of the fascinating adaptations unique to these creatures.

After the talk, for all interested in volunteering for Big Night, we will explain specifics about how you can help, what to wear, and what to look for. On Big Night we collect data about the numbers of animals using the tunnels. Also during this evening we will describe how you can help with our late April salamander egg mass count, the best way to census a population of these animals. The salamanders need you!

Join us for one or both portions of the evening program!

Our thanks to W.D. Cowls, Inc. for their cooperation with the ongoing operation and maintenance of the Henry Street salamander tunnels on their property.

Forest Carbon: An essential natural solution to climate change

with Paul Catanzaro, Associate Professor and the State Extension Forester at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
Thursday, March 12, 6:30 – 8:00pm
Free, donation encouraged
Register here

Forests provide a critical natural solution to reduce the effects of climate change. There is a growing debate about the most appropriate strategy to maximize this benefit. Ultimately, we need landscapes with both active and passive approaches to maintain the many benefits forests provide, including carbon sequestration and storage. The intent of this presentation is to help provide a better understanding of the role carbon plays within forests, the impacts of two land-use options on forest carbon – forest conversion and forest management, and the trade-offs of these decisions. The presentation will also provide specific carbon-informed forest management strategies to help maintain carbon storage if an active approach is taken.

Paul Catanzaro is an Associate Professor and the State Extension Forester at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Paul teaches courses in the Forest Ecology and Conservation concentration and is co-Director of the Family Forest Research Center, a partnership of the USDA Forest Service and UMass Amherst. Paul’s research and outreach work focuses primarily on legacy planning and forest resiliency.

For more information visit this Forest Carbon publication.

Woodcock: Skydancer

with Dan Ziomek, local birder and naturalist
Friday, March 27, 6:30-8:30pm
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. Recommended for adults and young people 4th grade and up. 

Birding for beginners and families (and those who prefer a slower pace)

with Dan Ziomek
Saturdays, April 18 – May 16, 7am-12pm
Members $100 Non-members $120
Register here

This class will consist of five Saturday mornings (7am- 12pm) during the peak of spring migration. We will visit five local hot spots and try to highlight not only the birds but the habitats that they prefer. We will walk at a leisurely pace and look and listen for the many species that use our valley as a migration highway. Check out the weekly schedule, below.

Week 1

April 18: Gate 5 at the Quabbin Reservoir. We will make the short (1 mile) walk into the reservoir looking for early spring migrants and late moving water fowl. If time permits a side trip to Lake Wallace in Belchertown might also be included. Birds of interest: Eagles, Mergansers, Phoebe and Kinglets.

Week 2

April 25: Station Road Rail Trail. Varied habitat with marsh, fields and wet woodlands. Birds of interest: Wood Duck, Herons, early warblers, etc.

Week 3

May 2: Conte Refuge: this varied habitat is perfect for both field birds and neotropical migrants. Here we will look for Bobolinks, Meadowlarks, Kestrel and many warblers.

Week 4 

May 9: Mitch’s Way Hadley, this bird habitat stretches along the CT river and catches many migrants on their trip north. Birds of interest: Warblers, Green Heron, Flycatchers, etc.

Week 5 

May 16: Skinner Mountain, this will be our toughest walk so we’ll go slow. Both migrants and breeding birds are possible. Birds of interest: Cerulean Warbler, Worm Eating Warbler, Indigo Bunting and Yellow-Throated Vireo.

Class notes
  • All classes start from the Hitchcock Center.
  • Carpooling will be necessary.
  • Bring binoculars and identification guides if possible.
  • Open to all ages with an interest in bird watching.
  • Bring bug spray, water, snacks, etc.
  • Tick checks should be done after every class.
Spring Wildflowers of Sugar Maple Woods

with Ted Elliman, botanist and author of Wildflowers of New England
Sunday, April 26, 10am-2pm
$12 Members/$16 Non-Members
Register here

Join us for an exploration of the beautiful early blooming wildflowers that grace our woodlands in April and May.  The program will begin at the Hitchcock Center with an overview presentation of the extraordinary variety of wildflowers that inhabit the sugar maple-dominated forests of western Massachusetts. Following the presentation, we will drive to Mt. Toby, which is renowned for the beauty and profusion of its vernal flora. Along the trails, we will search for and identify many wildflowers, including species such as hepatica, bloodroot, trout lily, Dutchman’s-breeches, spring beauty, toothwort, trillium, and much more.

Come with footwear appropriate for hiking, lunch, and water, and a camera if you wish. Heavy rains cancel.


Please check back for environmental justice programs.


Please check back for more volunteer days.


Living Building Makers in Conversation

Thursday, January 30, 6:30-8pm
Free, donation encouraged
Register here

“Once we know something, we can’t un-know it.”

Living Buildings are different. They ask us to consider our impact in everything we do, from our energy use to site selection. A key consideration is building materials: what’s in them? Where do they come from? What is their impact on the environment? Are they healthy for people to be around?

Join us for a conversation about how these material values change the way we build, from product selection to workflow. Jonathan Wright, Principal, Founder and Senior Advisor at Wright Builders, Jessica Schultz, Communication and Living Building Coordinator for Hitchcock Center and Sara Draper, Director of Educational Programs and Outreach for R.W. Kern Center will reflect on the Living Building process. How do our experiences on these projects change our workflow and our lives?

Jonathan will also share excerpts from his newest book, “Living Building Makers: Creating Sustainable Buildings that Renew our World;” copies will be available for sale.

Going Green & Saving Green Luncheon
Wednesday, February 12, 12-2pm
Amherst Area Chamber Members $25/Non-members $35

Registration required

While sometimes climate and economic development goals can be viewed as adversarial, the Amherst Area Chamber seeks to rewrite that narrative revealing the ways business and sustainability goals can have an innate synergy, and specifically how adopting sustainable practices can benefit your bottom line.

That is why, in partnership with Hitchcock Center for the Environment, the Chamber presents the Going Green & Saving Green Luncheon featuring a panel of local experts and access to resources, tips, and tools to assist with the implementation of sustainable practices in your organization big or small.

12:00 Zero Waste Lunch
12:30 State of Sustainability
1:00 Panel Discussion and Q&A
1:45 Hitchcock Center Tour
Our Living Building Tour Program

with Jessica Schultz
First Fridays at 4pm: February 7, March 6
Third Wednesdays at 12pm: March 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.

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