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.
To view programs chronologically, please visit our calendar.
Forest Bathing at the Hitchcock Center
with Todd Lynch
Saturdays: May 8, May 22, and June 5
Sliding Scale: Tier A:$36 Tier B: $30 Tier C: $23 Tier D: $15 (for those EBT, WIC or Card to Culture benefits) OR All three classes A: $100 B: $80 C: $60 D: $40 Participants who sign up for all three classes will get a 10% discount.
Come experience a guided Forest therapy walk with Todd Lynch, certified ANFT guide. Forest and Nature Therapy offers us the opportunity to slow down. It re-aligns our rhythms with the landscape, allowing our senses a respite from everyday demands and uncertainties. It’s a chance to remember our connections to nature and the joyful relationships that await us outside. This guided experience is not a hike or naturalist adventure, but an opportunity to slow down and allow our bodies to engage all of our senses. Please note that this is not “therapy” as commonly denoted in our culture, but an offering of a therapeutic way to be in nature. Guides are not trained clinicians; they hold the space to let the forest be the “therapist”.
What to Expect:
A leisurely walk of about a mile with stops along the way where we will gather and sit. We’ll all wear our masks when we gather together and the walk will be planned in a way to promote safe physical distancing of 6 feet or more between participants.
We will focus on our senses to develop an immediate connection with the forest. This is a very relaxed, slow, and mindful way of walking. The walk should last about 2-2.5 hours and we will finish with a gathering circle where we can share about our experiences.
Hitchcock Nature Trivia Nights: A monthly virtual trivia contest fundraiser
Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:30pm
January 13, February 10, March 10 and April 14
Join us for a monthly online trivia contest fundraiser for environmental education. The quiz will test you on a wide breadth of science, nature and environmental knowledge. The winning team will split the award with the Hitchcock Center for the Environment that will help provide 25%-50% discounts on program fees for economically challenged and low-income household.
Spring Birding with Scott Surner
Cost: Tier A – $420, Tier B – $336, Tier C – $252, Tier D – $168 (available for EBT, WIC, or MassHealth Card to Culture participants)
This year’s Spring Birding Class will consist of 7 Field Trips and 3 Zoom Meetings. The class will be limited to 10 people and we’ll generally meet at the designated location for each trip. Some of the purposed locations will be Quabbin Park, Rail Trail (Amherst) Nash Hill Rd, Williamsburg, Montague Sandplains and more. These locations are not written in stone and could change depending on the weather and avian activity. Generally, most classes will begin at 7am, but a couple of classes could begin at 6:00am.
Participants should plan on bringing water & snacks and have good comfortable footwear. Everyone will be required to wear a mask and carpooling will not be possible. Plan to be on your feet most of the morning, with most walks on fairly level ground with the exception of the Mt. Holyoke walk.
Thursday Zoom Class Meetings:
April 15, 6:30-7:45pm
April 29, 6:30-7:45pm
June 3, 6:30-7:45pm
Saturday Field Trip Dates:
April 17, 7am-12pm: Local – Amherst and Hadley
April 24, 7am-12pm: Rail Trail, Amherst
May 1, 7am-12pm: Quabbin Reservoir, Belchertown
May 15, 7am-12pm: Mt. Holyoke, migrating Warblers, local specialties Cerulean & Worm-eating Warblers
May 29, 6:30am-12pm: Nash Hill Rd, Williamsburg, breeding Waterthrushes and other Warblers.
June 5, 6:00am-12pm: Southwick Management Area, grassland birds.
June 12, 6:30am-12pm: Montague Sandplains-breeding Warblers, Towhee’s, Thrashers and more
Nature All Year: Winter Session
Join us for an in-depth natural history course to develop your naturalists skills. 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. Dress for the weather for 3 hours as we rarely cancel due to inclement weather. Bring binoculars and a hand lens, water and snacks if you would like. These will be outdoor only programs. Please dress for the weather and plan to wear a mask for everyone’s safety.
Tier A – $45 per class or $121 for winter season
Tier B – $36 per class or $97 for winter season
Tier C – $27 per class or $73 for winter season
Tier D – $18 per class or $49 for winter season
There is a 10% discount for signing up for the full fall series.
Sunday, February 14th, 9am — 12pm: Bark: Getting to Know Your Trees with Michael Wojtech
This program has filled. Please join the wait list.
Norwotuck Rail Trail at Lawrence Station
Join the author of Bark, Michael Wojtech, for a deeper look at tree ecology and identification using clues bark, roots, and buds. As a naturalist, writer, speaker, photographer, and illustrator, Michael Wojtech strives to share the science and beauty of natural history in an accessible and compelling fashion.
Background: Michael is a naturalist, educator and author of the book Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast, he writes, photographs, illustrates, and presents programs about the structure, growth processes, and ecology of trees. He began his ongoing study of trees at Antioch University New England, where he earned his Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology and edited the journal Whole Terrain.
Sunday, March 14th, 9am — 12pm: Winter Tracking with Kathy Dean in Ashfield
This program has filled. Please join the wait list.
Ever look out at a fresh snowfall to find animal tracks winding their way between bare shrubs and vegetation? Despite chilling temperatures and sparse food sources, many animals are still quite active even on the coldest of days. Together we’ll wander Kathy’s property in Ashfield to learn the basics of tracking and discover the stories of winter!
Background: Kathy is an experienced educator who has taught in both the outdoor adventure and nature connection fields. Together with Jean Bergstrom she co-founded Her Wild Roots, which offers nature education programs for women. She devotes most of her dirt time and study to animal tracking and bird language, as these are two of her biggest loves.
Sunday, April 25th, 7 — 10am: Migratory Birds with Scott Surner
This program has filled. Please join the wait list.
As spring emerges so many birds return to their summer breeding and feeding grounds in search of a safe place in which to make a nest and begin the next generation. Scott Surner, long time bird enthusiast, will offer tips on bird identification from sight, song and flight patterns as we amble along the trail in search of winter migrants.
Background: Scott Surner has been studying and observing birds for over 45 years throughout the Connecticut River Valley, (Massachusetts) New England and North America. His travels have taken him to New Jersey, Delaware, Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, Wyoming, Colorado, Alaska, Canada (Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Churchill) Costa Rica, Belize and Veracruz, Mexico. He has been teaching bird ID classes at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst, MA since 1980. He is a founding member and past president of the Hampshire Bird Club, (Established in 1984) and a past member of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee.
Virtual Building Tours for Classes or Groups
The Hitchcock Center is the 23rd building in the world and the 4th in Massachusetts to achieve the Certified Living Building designation! It is designed to model systems in nature, it is net zero energy and water, has composting toilets, and has been made with responsibly sourced non-toxic materials. Find out what makes our building a special teaching tool empowering visitors to ask, “what does sustainability look like in the built environment and in my community?” Using Zoom, we’ll explore the systems and features of the building. Bring your questions so we can learn together. Tours typically last from 1-1.5 hours.
Guidelines and Fees
Given this time of financial hardship for our community and our organization, we are offering a new sliding scale fee structure aimed to provide greater flexibility in choosing a price that is right for you and your family.
- Tier A: The fee is set 25% higher than what it costs to run the program and helps to support those who cannot afford the full cost of the program.
- Tier B: The fee is set to cover 100% of the program costs.
- Tier C: The fee is set at 25% less than what it costs to run the program.
- Tier D: This fee is set at 50% less than what it costs to run the program. This option is available for EBT, WIC, and Connector Care Card to Culture participants, that is, households receiving benefits through the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance and the Massachusetts Health Connector
Read our complete COVID-19 Program Participant Guidelines.
Our in-person programs will be held outdoors, even in the cold weather months. Outdoor learning environments have been shown to be one of the safest ways to teach while preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Masks will be required at all times when social distancing (six feet apart) is not able to be maintained. This will continue until our local and state health officials say otherwise.
As much as our teaching approach is “hands-on,” we will be limiting touching and sharing. If any equipment or materials are needed as part of the program, we will provide participants with their own. All equipment and materials will be returned and individually disinfected at the end of the program.
Participants need to come prepared for all outdoor weather conditions. We suggest bringing a backpack with extra layers, including socks and hats, bottled water, and snacks, as well as insect repellent and sunscreen as-needed.