28 Community Highlights: Aviation to Yo-Yos. Vintage Music to Bioblitz.

Did you know that Shelburne Falls was originally known as Salmon Falls, an important fishing site to both colonial settlers and native people? Find out about the interesting history of Shelburne, and make plans to visit Shelburne Falls this Saturday to learn about the history and importance of the Deerfield River Watershed during their annual RiverFest celebration!

Aviation to Yo-Yos. Civic Hackathon to RiverFest. Historic Weapons to Cemetery Tour. Vintage Music to Bioblitz… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week:  There are twelve species of owls that live in New England (although some are very rare), and about 200 throughout the world. You can learn about some of these owls, as well as their behaviors, habitats, calls, and more, at the Great Falls Discovery Center‘s free live owl show with Eyes on Owls on Saturday, June 7 at 10:30am and 12:30pm. Eyes on Owls is an organization that teaches the public about owls through live owl shows. During this program, you can learn field marks and signs in order to find owls in the wild without disturbing them, get a hooting lesson, and get tips on attracting and protecting owls in your area. All ages will love learning about these fascinating birds of prey. Call 413-863-3221 for more information. The Great Falls Discovery Center is located at 2 Avenue A in Turners Falls, MA.

Aviation/AerodynamicsCommunity MealCivic EngagementEntomologyPlant StudiesOrnithologyNature StudiesLocal HistoryFarming & FoodRiver EcologyLocal Music HistorySTEMCultural StudiesCitizen Scientist/Biology

Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens


Are your kids fascinated by airplanes or interested in learning more about aviation and aerodynamics? The Hampshire County Radio Control Model Airplane Club is offering an Open House and Family Day on Sunday, June 8 from 9am-4pm at the club flying field on Honeypot Road in Hadley, MA. Discover this fun hobby and try your hand at flying radio controlled planes. Newcomers to the sport can take advantage of instructors and training planes. Kids will also have a chance to build their own rubber band powered model airplanes. Radio controlled model airplanes can teach kids about science, technology, engineering, and math – how do the planes stay airborne? How does the control keep in contact with the plane? Questions like these can get kids engaged in STEM learning and also teach them about how real planes operate. Can’t make it to the open house? Another great resource for learning about aviation is the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT.

Community Meal

Come to the 23rd Annual Puffer’s Pond Pancake Breakfast, an intergenerational community meal in North Amherst on Saturday morning, June 7. There will be pancakes made from donated local ingredients and real maple syrup, along with raffles and live music by the Juggler Meadow String Band. Proceeds go toward maintaining and preserving Puffer’s Pond and is a fun opportunity to raise money for the Pond, spend time with family and friends, and meet new people – all while enjoying delicious homemade pancakes in an intergenerational environment that supports making connections across generations.

Civic Engagement

Hack for Western Mass, a civic hackathon where community members and technology experts connect to solve local challenges using technology, takes place in Holyoke. This hackathon consists of an event for adults as well as a youth hackathon. The event runs all day, Friday June 7 – Saturday, at Gateway City Arts. Kids can work together and participate in workshops that teach about nature, sustainability, art, and more. Kids who are interested in community engagement and in working with their peers to improve their community would benefit from Hack for Western Mass.


Come to A Honey of a Party at the Second Congregational Church as part of Greenfield Bee Week on Saturday morning, June 7! Kids can enjoy a honey bee tea party, dress up for the bee parade through the farmers’ market, and see a performance by Karen’s Dance Studio. UMass researchers will also present on bees, colony collapse disorder, and more. All ages will enjoy this Bee Week kickoff event, a terrific community celebration to support an interest in insects and local pollinators.

Plant Studies

Discover the world of edible wild plants with Grow Food Amherst at Simple Gifts Farm on Saturday morning, June 7 in Amherst! All ages can learn how to identify and prepare common wild plants for food and drink. This free event is a great opportunity to learn about healthy wild plants in the region and the habits they thrive in.

Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center is offering a plant walk for ages 14 and older at High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary in Shelburne on Saturday, June 7. Naturalist Nancy Goodman will lead this walk through the Sanctuary, where participants will search for orchids and wildflowers. Those who are interested in plants, local ecology, and natural habitats  will enjoy this program. Discover what grows around us and deepen your connection to where you live!


How many species of native birds can you identify? Learn basic birding with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council at Old Colonial Road in Stockbridge on Saturday morning, June 7. Explore a local wetland in search of interesting birds, learning about the habitats they call home and behaviors in which they engage.  Students interested in practicing their bird identification skills will enjoy this low-key, early morning walk.

There are twelve species of owls that live in New England (although some are very rare), and about 200 throughout the world. You can learn about some of these owls, as well as their behaviors, habitats, calls, and more, at the Great Falls Discovery Center‘s free live owl show with Eyes on Owls on Saturday, June 7 at 10:30am and 12:30pm. Eyes on Owls is an organization that teaches the public about owls through live owl shows. During this program, you can learn field marks and signs in order to find owls in the wild without disturbing them, get a hooting lesson, and get tips on attracting and protecting owls in your area. All ages will love learning about these fascinating birds of prey. Call 413-863-3221 for more information. The Great Falls Discovery Center is located at 2 Avenue A in Turners Falls, MA.

Join The Trustees of Reservations and naturalist John Greene for a birding adventure in Bear Swamp on Sunday morning, June 8, in Ashfield. Explore Bear Swamp’s unique habitats and search for breeding birds. Ask questions about the types of nests they build and how habitat and breeding patterns influence their structure. Best for older students interested in ornithology and local habitats.

Nature Studies

Head to Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary for their annual free Family Fun Day on Saturday, June 7 in Lenox! Come see live falcons at a presentation by Brian Bradley of Skyhunters, and a performance of “Four Season Bear” by the Caravan Puppets. See snakes native to our region with Tom Tyning while enjoying live music by George Wilson. Young children and do nature crafts, and the whole family can go on nature walks. All ages will enjoy this super fun, free family celebration!

Local History

Learn about the Springfield Armory‘s historic weapons at a Blank Firing Demonstration on Saturday afternoon, June 7. Visitors can see the weapons, hear the rifles blasting, and smell the burning gunpowder at this demonstration. Seeing the firing demonstration can teach students of all ages about historic weapons and what the Springfield Armory was used for in the past.

Have you every heard of the hamlet of the Hilltowns? The Worthington Historical Society is offering a history hike through Worthington’s backwoods with Ben Brown on Saturday afternoon, June 7. Explore and learn about the hamlet of South Worthington on this difficult hike. Best for older teens and adults interested in history and hiking. Read our post, Worthington Historical Society Educates all Ages About a Community’s Roots to find about about this opportunity and many others the WHS is offering this summer!

There are may odd tales to tell about the past residents of the Berkshires! Discover some interesting bits of local history at the Stockbridge Library’s second Cemetery Tour of the season – “The Odd, Quirky, Interesting, and Unusual: Stories You Have to Hear.” Come to Stockbridge Cemetery to hear some weird tales about Stockbridge in the past. Many different types of stories will be told, from local to international, personal to political. These cemetery tours are a fun way to learn about the history of Stockbridge and some of its interesting history!

Learn about the roles, relationships, living conditions, and working expectations of the 20 servants who staffed The Mount and its property each summer in Lenox during their Backstairs Tour on Sunday morning, June 8 & Thursday afternoon, June 12. Want to discover the history and class dynamics of late 1800s and early 1900s? You’ll enjoy this tour!

Farming & Food

The Berkshire Co-Op Market will lead a tour of Wolfe Spring Farm on Saturday morning, June 7, a certified organic farm in Sheffield. Jim and June Wolfe, who run the farm, will give a tour of the farm and discuss how they grow and manage their fruits, vegetables, and livestock. Special focus will be on their watercress crop; watercress is an aquatic crop that is harvested in May and June. Bring your interests in farming and local food to this exciting farm tour!

The annual Strolling of the Heifers Weekend in Brattleboro, VT is here! The world-famous parade starts at 10am on Saturday, June 7. Follow the parade to the Slow Living Expo, where you can eat local food, see/hear live entertainment, watch demonstrations, and much more! The goal of this annual event is to sustain family farms by connecting people with local food. Visitors will celebrate local food by participating in these events and learning about the importance of local food systems at this free event

Celebrate spring at Just Roots’ Spring Farm Festival at the Greenfield Community Farm on Sunday afternoon, June 8! The afternoon consists of garden work, talks, a farm tour, a wildlife walk, kids’ activities like facepainting, dinner, a bonfire, a performance of Piti Theatre’s “To Bee or Not to Bee,” and more. This family-friendly event is a great way to celebrate your community and Greenfield’s great community farm! Read our post, Just Roots Community Farm Fosters Youth Collaboration, to learn more!

River Ecology

Shelburne Falls’ annual RiverFest takes place on Saturday, June 7! The fun-filled day features live music, the Frog and Flower Parade, a birds of prey show, children’s theater, education displays, fly fishing, rafting, trolley rides, interactive community art, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, storytelling, and much, much more! RiverFest is a great local event that celebrates the vibrant community of Shelburne Falls and the importance of the Deerfield River Watershed. Stop by the Hilltown Families tent while visiting!

Local Music History

From July 19-27, teens and adults can participate in the Legacy of Vintage Music Workshop, held by the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke. This free, week-long immersion workshop is a place for musicians to further their skills in a supportive and collaborative environment. Participants will form a band and perform selected songs at Wistariahurst on July 26 and at the Holyoke Senior Center on July 27. The workshop focuses on music that was popular in Holyoke (then known as Ireland Parish) from 1800-1950 – songs that were played, danced to, sung, and listened to around town. The music serves as a way to remember and acknowledge Holyoke’s unique history and gain a deeper understanding of the legacies that music can leave behind. Call 413-628-0262 for more information.


Learn about science, technology, engineering, and math at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment with educator Ruthie Ireland at a free CFCE STEM Workshop. on Saturday morning, June 7 in Amherst. This event is for kids 8 and under and their parents and is a great way to get kids engaged with STEM.

Children and their families can explore the fascinating world of STEM at the Arms Library on Saturday morning, June 7 in Shelburne Falls! This free program focuses on children’s natural curiosity and gives them an opportunity to play with water, look at bugs, experiment with smells and sounds, use magnifying glasses, and more. There is also a focus on how to implement STEM learning at home.

The Z-Games: Northeast Regional Yo-Yo Contest takes place at the Academy of Music in Northampton on Saturday, June 7. Come watch talented yo-yoers do tricks and compete. Students who are interested in physics and who enjoy yo-yoing would like watching this competition! See our post, Yo-Yo School Can Unlock Secrets of Physics, for a video of past participants, along with information about Northampton’s Yo-Yo School!

The Community Network for Children is offering a Preschool STEM Exploration at Shutesbury Town Hall on Sunday morning, June 8. Parents and their children (ages 3-5) can experiment with science, technology, engineering, and math in a fun hands-on way, and parents can learn more about how to promote STEM learning at home.

Cushman Library in Bernardston is offering a free preschool storyhour with the theme of “Building Bridges” on Monday morning, June 9. There will be stories, STEM activities, and a snack, and participants can take home a STEM kit to continue learning about science, technology, engineering, and math at home.

Did you know that origami can be used in physics? Or that it can be done hands-free and without paper? Learn how at this month’s Sci.Tech.Café at Amherst Brewing Company on Monday evening, June 9 at 6pm. Researchers from UMass, Western New England University, and Cornell University will present on their work creating micro-scale polymer gels that can be folded into complex origami shapes that could potentially have applications in biomedical engineering. Do you think that sounds complicated? Don’t worry, because Sci.Tech.Cafés are designed for community members without science backgrounds! This free event is a wonderful opportunity to learn about some of the work being done locally by leading researchers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math – a great way to become more engaged with STEM! Amherst Brewing Company is at 10 University Drive in Amherst, MA.

Cultural Studies

Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield presents an interactive talk by Wolf Tree Programs on Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands on Tuesday evening, June 10. Learn about their daily lives and the ideas, skills, and tools that they relied upon from the last ice age up until the 1600s and beyond. The presentation will focus on tools, fire-making, basic hunting weapons, beads, and jewelry of hunter-gatherers of the Paleolithic Age.

Citizen Scientist/Biology

Are you interested in learning more about science and nature in your area, getting hands-on while experience doing so? Berkshire Bioblitz is the ultimate citizen science opportunity – it pairs scientists with community members in order to inventory all living species in the Berkshire ecosystem! The event runs for 24 hours, from Friday, June 13 at 12noon until Saturday, June 14 at 12noon. During this time, participants will aim to complete surveys of living species in the area and can attend workshops and activities on topics like mushrooms/fungi, animal tracks and sign, pond life, owls, moths, birds, and more. Berkshire Bioblitz acts as a tool to get community members, especially children, interested in science and nature by doing hands-on activities and accomplishing important work by performing ecological surveys. More information and a full schedule of events can be found on the Berkshire Bioblitz website. This event takes place at Berkshire South Regional Community Center (15 Crissey Road, Great Barrington, MA).

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Ashfield, Bernardston, Charlemont/Hawley, Chesterfield, Conway, Heath, Leyden, Montague, Montgomery, South Hadley and Shutesbury Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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