34 Community Highlights: Wild Flower Walks to Textile Drives. Weather to Transportation.

Earth Day to Volunteer Week. Beaver Ponds to Raising Chickens. Wild Flower Walks to Textile Drives…

These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!

And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.

Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

Hilltown Family Variety Show: This Saturday, April 20th, we will rebroadcast our Weather Episode with Guest DJ, Alison Faith Levey.  Tune in for an hour of great music and learning highlights on all things WEATHER!

Community ServiceEarth DayAnimal StudiesNature StudiesHistoryParent WorkshopsCultural Studies


National Volunteer Week begins this weekend and on Saturday morning, April 20th, there are at least 10 opportunities to volunteer with your family at community clean-ups. Bring the family and take part in community service together, caring for these outdoor treasures while engaging in a simple way to give back.

  1. Ashfield – Trail work day with The Trustees of Reservations at Chapel Brook. The Appalachian Mountain Club will offer free beginner climbing lessons following work.
  2. Cheshire – Clean up the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail (ages 8yo+).
  3. Chicopee – Chicopee State Park clean up (ages 8yo+). Plant flowers, spread mulch, stain picnic tables and do general trail maintenance.
  4. Easthampton – Annual Meadows Spring clean-up at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary (ages 10yo+). Working out in the field, wear work clothes and bring gloves & water.
  5. Goshen – Clean up DAR State Forest. Help prepare for the upcoming camping season by raking campsites & day use picnic areas.
  6. Great Barrington – Join the patrons of the Ramsdell Library for a day of cleaning up along the banks of the Housatonic River.
  7. Monson – Led a hand to The Trustees of Reservations sprucing up Peaked Mountain. Bring work gloves, water & snack.
  8. Westfield – Earth Day Cleanup. Families welcomed. Bring waterproof boots, work gloves, and a desire to help clean the environment.
  9. Whately – Clean up for Earth Day. Bring the kids and pick up roadside litter debris.
  10. Williamstown – Spring clean-up of the Sheep Hill grounds. Tools and refreshments will be provided.


Earth Day is on Monday, April 22nd, but there will be plenty of fairs, rallies and recycling events happening this weekend!

Don’t miss the Reuse & Recycling Rally happening on Saturday morning, April 20th in Northampton! Find new-to-you toys for the kids at the community tag sale, shred confidential papers, donate old baby equipment, recycle well-loved pants with holes in the knees and t-shirts with juice box stains for the textile drive, and bring by those hotel shampoos and conditioners from your family winter vacation to Florida to donate to the Hampshire County Interfaith Emergency Shelter… all this will be going on at Smith Vocational High School.

West Springfield Environmental Committee is sponsoring a free Earth Day Fair on the town common on Saturday. There will be a”Week of the Young Child” activities, exhibitors, demonstrations, and more. Bring with you tattered and torn clothes for the textile drive, paper to shred, eyeglasses and cell phones to donate.

Parents and teens are invited to join the Hilltown Community Development Corporation for a free discussion on Saturday to follow up on the recent Resiliency Summit where many Hilltown residents gathered to share their ideas and talents. Topics include agriculture, farming, housing, emergency preparedness, community development, resource development, small business assistance, and most importantly community engagement and cooperation. Your voice is needed and welcomed at this free event happening at the Cummington Village Congregational Church.

Bring those broken bicycles and jammed VCR’s and go visit the Repair Cafe on Saturday afternoon in St. Stephen’s Church basement in Pittsfield. Skilled volunteers can fix children’s bikes, mend torn jeans, repair computers and fix up vacuums cleaners stuffed with crumbs and LEGO toys… for free! Children can learn the science and maintenance associate with their very own bike!

Celebrate Earth Day with the Springfield Museums on Sunday afternoon, April 21st. There will be special events and activities taking place throughout the day, on top of the usual opportunities to visit the museums’ many different exhibits. Bluegrass band The Boys of the Landfill will share environmentally-themed music and Tom Ricardi will present a live birds of prey program. Families can also make their own recycled paper, and learn about earth-friendly things like water treatment, recycling, environmental clean-up, and more!

On Monday evening, April 22nd in Amherst, Annie Leonard, creator of The Story of Stuff will speak at UMass. Her free lecture will address the numerous complicated and interwoven issues of sustainability, social justice, and waste – learn how to lead a more environmentally conscious lifestyle in celebration of Earth Day!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The Amherst Sustainability Festival happens Saturday, April 27th, on the Town Common!


Enjoy an early morning bird watch with the Hoffman Bird Club on Saturday morning, April 20th in Williamstown. Saturday’s Birding Beyond Your Backyard free event will take place at Linear Park, where families will learn to search for waterfowl, migratory birds, and common field species.

Explore the Hopkins Forest in Williamstown on Saturday morning to learn about the various species of reptiles and amphibians who rely on the forest’s unique habitat in order to survive. Thomas Tyning, a professor at Berkshire Community College, will lead this free exploration and will teach participants to look for and identify common frogs, turtles, salamanders, and snakes. There are a full 20 species of these creatures living in the forest!

Visit Historic Deerfield for Three Bags Full: All About Wool, a special museum presentation on sheep shearing and processing wool for use at home concluding on Saturday. Families can drop in anytime to see the wool being processed, and to learn about the many uses for wool in early New England life. Families can even try their hand at a few of the processing steps!

Westfield Athenaeum presents “Eyes on Owls-Who’s Watching You” on Saturday afternoon. This free one-of-a-kind family program is for all ages and will introduce families to the different types of (real live) owls. Find out what’s a myth and what real about owls. There will even be a hooting lesson!

Assist the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst in a census of the spotted salamander population on Sunday afternoon, April 21st. Participants will meet at the center then travel to Henry Street in search for egg masses. Come with waders or wading shoes and ready to get mucky (it’s for the salamanders!), and help identify egg masses, count them, map their locations and photograph. It’s super easy and you will be guided. Free.

Stop by Robinson State Park in Agawam on Sunday afternoon to learn about the survival habits of small aquatic creatures. Families will be able to use nets, magnifiers, and other simple tools to gently examine the critters and their habitats. Free.

Has your family been thinking about raising chickens? Having chickens is a fun, hands-on way for younger children to practice responsibility and care for others while supplementing their studies of animals. Kids love checking for eggs and using them to learn about culinary arts in the kitchen. It’s all good… and easy! Dickinson Library in Northfield is hosting a free information session, “Getting Started with Chickens” on Tuesday evening, April 23rd. Sandra Brougham, 4-H club leader, will share her knowledge of what’s involved — from coop-construction to breed selection, care and feed.

Enjoy an evening visiting the beaver ponds at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox on Wednesday, April 24th. Search for beavers and other kinds of wildlife that are attracted by the series of ponds that the beavers have created. Learn about the natural history of beavers and how they continue to change our landscape 80 years after their reintroduction and what you can look for in your own neighboring waterways.

Families with young children can join the Community Network for Children for a visit to Craigieburn Farm Alpacas in Shutesbury on Friday morning, April 26th. Learn about alpacas and their farmers during this free farm tour.


Can you find Bishop’s Cap, Nodding Trillium, Bloodroot or Dutchmen’s Breeches in your local woods? These creatively named plants are just a few of the fascinating spring plants that can be found at Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield this time of year! Join the Trustees of Reservations on Saturday morning, April 20th for a guided walk through the cobble, and learn to identify early spring plants.

Visit Mt. Tom for an outdoor expedition on Saturday afternoon in Holyoke! Noticing Nature is a free guided exploration of the reservation, where families will learn to use all of their sense to find all of the signs of spring.

The Connecticut River is beautiful and fascinating – rolling dark blue through the center of the Pioneer Valley. What’s beneath the water, though? The Sunderland Library screens, “Beneath the River” on Wednesday evening, April 24th, a film about the natural and human history of the river – families will learn about everything from unique plant life to catastrophic bridge collapses. This free screening is best for younger students with audience skills and older.


The so-called “core” of Williamstown is a set of buildings created during the same time period and for similar purposes. But when was it, and why? Learn about the town’s history and reasons behind the particular architectural style of the town’s building core on Saturday morning, April 20th at the Williamstown Historical Museum. In a free discussion, local architect Andrus Burr will discuss the history of the grid between Cole Avenue and Southworth and Moorland Streets and its connection to the designing of the buildings found there.

Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke hosts a lecture series this spring on the history of transportation in the Pioneer Valley. On Monday evening, April 22nd, the topic is bikeways and rail trails, and their place in the transportation habits of local communities. The talk will also discuss the potential for future development of a bike path in Holyoke!

Families can learn experientially about the effects of the Civil War on New England communities on Wednesday evening, April 24th at Storrowton Village in West Springfield. The village’s interpreters and reenactors will be portraying a variety of different late-1800’s community members (everything from a shopkeeper to a housewife) and will share their experiences with visitors to the village. Families can take a tour of the historic little town, and will learn about how the war – though it was far from Massachusetts – changed the lives of everyone around.


Jacquelynne Eccles, PhD, a professor at the University of Michigan, presents a free lecture titled, “The Role of Parents in Supporting Their Children’s Achievements,” on Monday afternoon, April 22nd at UMass in Amherst. The talk will address current research on the topic, and the role that parents can take on in order to successfully support their students’ growth and development.

The Collaborative for Educational Services is offering a workshop for parents titled, “First Steps to Reading” in Easthampton. A multi-week series, the free workshops will teach families strategies for building literacy skills and ways to incorporate literacy building into their daily routine. The workshops will take place at Our Lady’s Child Care Center weekly on Mondays through May 20th. Each week will bring a new theme and skill for families to learn about together! Designed for families with children birth to age 5.


The Open Square Gallery in Holyoke hosts a free opening on Thursday evening, April 25th, for a show highlighting Puerto Rican history and culture – Puerto Rican Community Education Posters 1947-1990 is made up of images created in order to promote learning in Puerto Rico in the country’s post-WWII push to become a modern, industrialized society. The show will teach viewers about the country’s history and culture, through a lens of education and the people’s attitude towards formal schooling.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 130 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.


[Photo credit: (ccl) Mikael Wiman]

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