Learning Ahead: August 3rd-7th, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 9 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Berkshire County

Tuesday, August 4. 4pm — CULINARY ARTS/ART/HISTORY
Chances are, you’ve had at least one picnic meal this summer. When did picnicking come into fashion? Why did people decide to dine outdoors rather than in? Food historian Francine Segan will take us through a history of picnicking in her talk at the Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum. A Victorian tea will follow the presentation. Reservations highly recommended. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street, Lenox, MA. ($$)

Wednesday, August 5. 8pm-10pm — NATURE STUDIES
Are those crickets you’re hearing at night, or cicadas? Could that be a tree frog in your backyard or is it a peeper? And how can you use cricket chirps to determine air temperature?! Find out at the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation‘s “Sounds of the Summer Night” program. S’mores will be served at 8pm, and the sound studies begin at 8:30pm. Rain date August 12. 413-458-2494. Sheep Hill, Route 7 (1 mile south of the Williamstown Rotary), Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Friday, August 7. 11am-1pm — ORNITHOLOGY
Most days you can glance up at the sky and find a red-tailed hawk soaring above. Hawks and other raptors live throughout the Pioneer Valley, but face threats due to human activities. Learn more about these amazing animals, and how and why to help protect them and their habitats, at Tom Ricardi’s birds of prey presentation, hosted by the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Participants will be able to meet some of the birds Tom has rehabilitated at his local wildlife center, too! 413-298-3926. 5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, MA. ($; FREE for children under 12)

Franklin County

Monday, August 3. 12pm-4:30pm — HISTORY/FIBER ARTS
Did you know that silk played an important role in Deerfield’s history? Visit Historic Deerfield‘s Silken Threads and Shimmering Cloth presentations to learn all about the silk industry. Check out the live silkworm exhibit, reel silk from a cocoon, and try painting on silk fabric! Many examples of silken cloths and embroideries will be on display throughout the museum as well. This hands-on learning opportunity will be available daily through August 13, 2015. 413-775-7127. 84B Old Main Street, Deerfield, MA. ($)

Friday, August 7. 5pm-8pm — COMMUNITY CELEBRATION
If you are planning on spending money on dinner, a gift, or a necessity, it’s great to keep your dollars local and support the health of your community! Towards this end, the Greenfield Business Association hosts “First Friday” celebrations every month from May through December. Meet up with friends and neighbors downtown to enjoy food, live music, special sales, and give-aways. This month’s theme is “Art for All.” 413-774-2791. downtown Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesdays-Sundays, through August 23 8pm — THEATRE
Double Edge Theatre presents Once a Blue Moon, an indoor/outdoor traveling spectacle in which audience members will traverse hills, pastures, riverbanks, and gardens as they follow performers through a magical realism tale. Performances run Wednesdays-Sundays, July 29-August 23. Rain or shine. 413-628-0277. 948 Conway Road, Ashfield, MA. ($$)

Hampshire County

Monday, August 3. 6pm-7pm — AGRICULTURE/LOCAL FOODS
A diversity of plants helps keep both the Earth, and the creatures upon it, alive and well. The age of industrial agriculture went hand in hand with a decline in biodiversity among our food crops, and raised awareness about the importance of creating seed banks and seed libraries. Learn from the folks at Feasthampton as they discuss seeds, health, and our cultural heritage in this presentation at the Emily Williston Memorial Library. 413-527-1031. 9 Park Street, Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Friday, August 7. 5:30pm-9:30pm — COMMUNITY DINNER & FOOD RESOURCES
Are you part of a food co-op, or have you wondered what they are and how or why to join one? Dine with members of the River Valley Market co-op on the grounds of the lovely Quonquont Farm (dinner features house-made barbeque pork and tofu), enjoy music by Gumbo Jumbo Dixieland, and stay to watch Food for Change (2014), a documentary that details the history of food co-ops in the US. Dessert will be served after the film. Tickets should be purchased in advance at River Valley Market. 413-585-5151. 9 North Street, Whately, MA. ($)

Hampden County

Monday, August 3. 6pm-8pm — ECONOMICS
Learning to manage money is important, and the younger one develops an understanding of the basics of investing, the better their chances at implementing sound financial strategies once they have money of their own. This investment workshop at the Storrs Library will provide beginning and seasoned investors with information about buying and trading stocks. Registration requested. 413-565-4181 x 1620. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

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