34 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Music to Medicine. Civic Engagement to Meditation.

Did you know there is a bog in the Hilltowns… home to carnivorous plants like this pitcher plant pictured here?! Hawley Bog stands at an elevation of 1,800 feet, similar to some of the cold bogs of Canada. In an upcoming Mass Audubon program, families can learn about local natural history by visiting this peatland and participating in a guided walk with a local naturalist!

Carnivorous Plants to Service Animals. Political Cartoons to Civic Engagement. Color Theory to Classical Music. These are just a few of the community-based 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 community highlights this week:   Cider pressing has a long history in New England and beyond. Connect with local culture at the Sukkot Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 23, 10am-1pm! Harvest festivals draw people together for a chance to celebrate the season. This particular harvest festival will have many opportunities for culinary learning and creativity. There will be apple cider pressing, pizza, garlic planting, fire cider making, nature crafts, local food, and live music. Visit the Abundance Farm Facebook page for more information. This event will take place rain or shine. 253 Prospect Street. Northampton, MA. (DONATION)

Carnivorous PlantsBogsService AnimalsPet FosteringHikes & WalksArt StudiesPolitical CartoonsLocal HistoryCemetery StudiesOrnithology  ♦ Culinary ArtsFashion HistoryJewish CultureMusic StudiesService-Based LearningNative American StudiesMeditation/MindfulnessYogaSTEMRoboticsMakerspacePhysicsBotanyCivic EngagementMedicine

Join our stellar team supporters!
Become a sponsor of Learn Local. Play Local. and see your banner here:


Sunday, October 23, 10am-12:30am
Did you know there is a bog in the Hilltowns… home to carnivorous plants?! Hawley Bog stands at an elevation of 1,800 feet, similar to some of the cold bogs of Canada. In an upcoming Mass Audubon program, families can learn about local natural history by visiting this peatland and participating in a guided walk with local naturalist, Nancy Childs. Come see the bog before the weather gets colder, and learn about three types of Massachusetts carnivorous plants: sundew, pitcher plant, and bladderwort. Autumn is also the time to see cottongrass, a glacial relic! Call 413-584-3009 to register. Directions can be found on the Mass Audubon website. Hawley, MA. (Members <$; Non members $)

Service Animals

Saturday, October 22, 1pm
Dogs have been service animals to humans, primarily to assist blind individuals, as far back as the 16th century! Today, service dogs and therapy dogs are used to assist individuals with a wide range of disabilities, including anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. Families can learn more about the companionship of therapy dogs, ask questions, and meet some working therapy dogs at the Sunderland Public Library. Find out about the kind of training these dogs undergo, and the process of therapy dog certification. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Helping to provide much needed support for humans, service dogs are truly some of man’s best friends. Local families can engage in service-based learning by fostering future service dogs, giving them a loving home while helping to support their training. Information sessions are held weekly for interested local families! Read more in our post, Fostering Service Dogs: Service-Based Learning for Animal Lovers!


Saturday, October 22, 10am-dusk
Self-guided walks allow you to move as quickly or as slowly as you want while exploring local ecology and natural history. You are invited to take a self-guided walk, alone or with family and friends, along the Rivulet Trail at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead. While you enjoy the fall colors of the homestead, you may want to capture the view in a photograph or two. By tagging #bryanthomestead on Instagram, you could be chosen for a special prize. For information call the Trustees at 413 458-3135. 207 Bryant Road. Cummington, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, October 22, 1pm
Enjoying spending time outside in fall? You can learn to identify trees while exploring the grounds of the Clark Art Institute on this free, guided hike. Grounds manager and horticulturist Matthew Noyes will lead participants, teaching them how to identify trees by their leaves, bark, leaf buds, structure, and texture. Hikers should meet at the Clark Center and are advised to wear shoes appropriate for covering varied terrain. All ages are welcome. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, October 23, 1pm
Storywalks in nature give families a chance to enjoy the outdoors while taking in the artwork and writing in children’s books. This nature storywalk will be lead by Dawn Marvin Ward and feature the picture book, Looking for a Moose. Meet at the Leverett Library. 413-548-9220. 75 Montague Road. Leverett, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, October 25, 9:30am-12pm
Throughout Mount Holyoke there is geological evidence about the natural history of the Pioneer Valley. Nature enthusiasts ages twelve and up are invited on a guided hike to see these pieces of history and learn how the shape of the Pioneer Valley came to be what we know today. Children must be accompanied by an adult. This hike is approximately 2.5 miles over moderate to steep terrain. Bring water, bug spray, and sunscreen and wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Meet at the summit house deck at Skinner State Park. 413-586-0350. 20 Skinner State Park Road. Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Art Studies

Saturday, October 22, 10am
Life-long learners and self-directed teens can learn about art history, as well as gain practical techniques, at this Montgomery Library event. Greg Maichack will lead a pastel workshop in which he will demonstrate techniques for creating still life. Participants should enjoy working with pastels, but experience is not necessary. Sign up at the library or call 413-862-3894. The workshop will take place at the Montgomery Town Hall. 161 Main Road. Montgomery, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, October 22, 11am-1pm
Color theory, which includes the visual effects of color combinations, is important to art, graphic design, interior design, and more. Conway fiber artist Sue McFarland will be discussing color theory through simple cut and paste exercises. This class is appropriate for all who want to enhance their use of color in whatever their choice of expressive media. Participants are encouraged to bring their own scissors for paper and a glue stick. Call 413-369-4646 for more information and to register. Field Memorial Library. 16 Elm Street. Conway, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, October 25, 6pm-8pm
Even if you don’t think of yourself as a “good artist,” engaging in creative activities can be fun, relaxing, and help you process emotions. Complete beginners are invited to learn the art of pastel painting at this workshop at the Buckland Public Library. Experienced artists are also welcome to join and learn from award-winning pastel artist Gregory John Maichack’s demonstrations. Maichack will also explore the art of painter Robert Strong. Participants will have access to professional grade pastels, pastel pencils, and pastel paper. Registration is required. Call 413-625-9412. 30 Upper Street. Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, October 26, 5:15pm-6:15pm
Political cartoons are an art form which can have a real social impact. Opening September 10th, the exhibition “Presidents, Politics, and the Pen: The Influential Art of Thomas Nast,” will be on view at the Norman Rockwell Museum. The show’s curator will offer will gallery tours exploring Nast’s imagery and impact. 413-298-4100. 9 MA-183. Stockbridge, MA. ($. College students with ID <$. Ages 6-18 <$. Under 5 and museum members FREE)

What are political cartoons? A powerful genre of protest art…


Saturday, October 22, 10am
Learning about local history can help you see the structures of your town in a new light. The Pelham Historical Society will be offering a series, “Pelham Points of Interest” in which participants will explore unusual structures, artifacts, and stories of Pelham through a walking tour. At this event, Bruce Klotz will lead attendees through Pelham’s horse troughs, the gravesite of a smallpox victim, and Pelham’s Rocking Stone. Call 413-695-1797 to register. Meet at the Town Hall Complex to Carpool. 351 Amherst Road. Pelham, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, October 27, 5pm-6pm
The Stockbridge Cemetery is the burial site for well-known figures such as artist Norman Rockwell and Elizabeth Freeman, a woman who set a legal precedent when she was fought for freedom from slavery based on the U.S. Constitution. Norman Rockwell Museum. Curator of Education, Tom Daly will be leading this walking history tour of Stockbridge Cemetery. Attend to learn more about local history. A cider and donut reception will precede the tour on the lawn adjacent to the bell tower parking area at the Old Town Hall. 413-298-4100. Main Street. Stockbridge, MA. (<$; Museum members and children 12 and under FREE)


Saturday, October 22, 1pm-2pm
Wildlife rehabilitator and wildlife biologist Tom Ricardi’s educational presentations teach people of all ages about birds of prey. Come to Great Falls Discovery Center to see raptors up close and learn about their lives, habitats, and conservation efforts for various species. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Friday, October 28, 10am-11am
Your children between the ages of three to six can learn about biology, ecology, and animal studies through interactive programs at weekly “Kidleidoscope” Mount Holyoke Range State Park. Through a story, an art project, and activity, kids will learn about local plants and animals. On October 28, participants will learn about owls. Meet at the Notch Visitor Center. 413-253-2883. 1500 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Culinary Arts

Saturday, October 22, 1:30pm
Everyone needs to know how to cook in order to function in the world independently. Culinary arts can also be a career path or a creative hobby for those who enjoy it. Teens are invited to an Iron Chef challenge at the Sunderland Public Library. Participants will use apples and other ingredients, and their arrangement of the food will be judged on appearance, taste, and creativity. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, October 27, 4pm-6pm
Sometimes, shopping for groceries can feel like a battle between eating well and eating inexpensively. Leanne Brown is author of Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day, which she wrote as the capstone for her master’s in food studies from New York University. She will be offering a cooking class and book signing at Whole Foods Market, as a benefit for the Amherst Survival Center. Registration is required Call Whole Foods to register: 413-586-9932. 327 Russell Street. Hadley, MA. (<$)

Fashion History

Saturday, October 22, 2pm
Today, fashion trends come and go quickly, communicated through advertising and the availability of certain styles. How was fashion information distributed at other times in history? In this program, Edward Maeder will examine methods of communication from the late Middle Ages until the middle of the nineteenth century. His talk will examine ways in which clothing was used to express “national” identity. This talk is in conjunction with the exhibition “Mask” by Jenni Sussman and is free and open to the public. Historic Northampton. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Jewish Culture

Saturday, October 23, 10am-1pm
Cider pressing has a long history in New England and beyond. Connect with local culture at the Sukkot Harvest Festival! Harvest festivals draw people together for a chance to celebrate the season. This particular harvest festival will have many opportunities for culinary learning and creativity. There will be apple cider pressing, pizza, garlic planting, fire cider making, nature crafts, local food, and live music. Visit the Abundance Farm Facebook page for more information. This event will take place rain or shine. 253 Prospect Street. Northampton, MA. (DONATION)

Sunday, October 23, 10am-4pm
You can immerse yourself in local Jewish culture and history through film screenings, music, and presentations at the Yiddish Book Center Open House. At 11pm, a screening of two films from the Wexler Oral History Project will teach you about Jewish culture from a personal perspective. There will be guided tours of the book center, a talk from the founder and president, and a musical performance by The Schaechter Sisters and Binyumen. 413-256-4900. 1021 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Music Studies

Sunday, October 23, 11am
If you live in proximity to any of the colleges in the Pioneer Valley, you can take advantage of this by attending free, high level concerts. This Smith College faculty concert will feature Joel Pitchon on violin, Volcy Pelletier on cello, pianist Judith Gordon and distinguished guest violist Michelle LaCourse. The group will play Piano Quartet in A Major by Johannes Brahms. This program will also feature Kirsten Lipkens in an early work by Elliot Carter, Pastoral, for English Horn and piano. Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall. 144 Green Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, October 23, 2pm
You can hear a variety of instruments and compositions at this Music on Main concert with the Florence Camerata Piano Trio. The trio includes Richard Mickey on cello, Joe Jewett on violin, and Gregory Hayes on piano. The program will feature pieces by Mozart, Dvorak, and Fred Hersh. Donations benefit the Music on Main concert series, and a reception follows the concert. First Congregational Church at 165 Main Street. Amherst, MA. (DONATION)

Sunday, October 23, 3pm
College faculty recitals bring you high quality musical performance, often at a low cost or free. This Amherst College faculty recital, “Different Duos,” will feature new works by two composers: Amherst College Professor of Music Eric Sawyer and Valentine Visiting Professor of Music John McDonal. This afternoon of contemporary music will feature cello, double bass, and piano. 413-542-2195. Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Friday, October 28, 12pm
Enjoy classical music during your lunch hour at this Mohawk Trail Concert. Thomas Pousont will perform on harpsichord, playing compositions by Bach and Frescobaldi at the Arms Library. This concert is free and open to the public. For more call 413-625-9511. Main Street and Bridge Street. Shelburne Falls, MA. (FREE)

Service-Based Learning

Saturday, October 22, 12:30pm-4pm
Volunteering connects people to place and each other through shared values and interests. Volunteers who enjoy spending time out doors are invited to participate in Volunteer Day at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. Take in the beautiful views as you help care for the native gardens, trails/boardwalks, and education spaces. There are a variety of projects to be done. Tools, gloves, and refreshments will be provided. Registration requested. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Wednesday, October 26, 6:30pm-8pm
You can participate in a citizen scientist project, while maintaining a local park, at “Weeding Wednesday!” Participants will weed, water, measure growth rates, and engage in general orchard maintenance at Springside Park Chestnut Seed Orchard needed. No experience is necessary to participate. This project will help restore resilient chestnut trees to the forests of Massachusetts. For more information, call 508-667-9685. Benedict Road. Pittsfield, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Native American Studies

Tuesday, October 25, 6pm
Come to the Sunderland Public Library for an introduction to American Indian music. In his new book, Heartbeat, Warble, and the Electric Powwow: American Indian Music, author and musician Craig Harris draws on interviews with musicians, producers, and ethnographers to relay the cultural story of Native American musical traditions. He will be discussing his research and book in an interactive, participatory, multi-media presentation. You will hear Native-infused jazz, reggae, country music, blues, hip-hop, and electronic dance music. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)


Monday, October 24, 4:30pm; Tuesday, October 25, 4:30pm; Wednesday, October 26, 4:30pm
Carrying different meanings in different contexts, Wikipedia defines meditation as, “a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.” In other words, when people meditate, they are focusing their awareness on the present moment, often times to their breath, allowing thoughts to enter and pass through their awareness without attachment, constantly balancing their attention back to the present moment. You can try out meditation for yourself by attending this Green Tara Meditation led by Khen Rinpoche (Geshe Tsetan), Abbot of Tashihunpo Monastery. Dewey Hall Common Room. 4 Neilson Drive. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Monday, October 24, 6:30pm-7:30pm
Yoga practice has lots of benefits, from improving strength and flexibility, to decreasing pain and stress. Thus, the activity can be helpful for people of all ages. You and your family can try yoga together at the West Springfield Public Library’s Family Yoga class. Children must be at least five years old. Please register by calling or visiting the library. 413-736-4561. 200 Park Street. West Springfield, MA. (FREE)


Monday, October 24, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Robotics and game creation are two fun ways to learn about cause and effect, engineering, and programming in a creative way. In this Holyoke Codes workshop, you’ll learn how to connect electronic components using a breadboard. Participants will create “zombie detectors” using an Arduino microcontroller, a motion sensor, and a sound generator. This program is appropriate for ages 11 and up. Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center. 413- 552-4900. 100 Bigelow Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Let the STEM Robot Zombie Apocalypse begin!

Thursday, October 27, 3:30pm-4:30pm
Makerspaces invite people to collaborate on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) concepts, utilizing their creativity and imaginative skills. This monthly maker lab at the West Springfield Public Library invites patrons ages six and up to work together on various projects. This month participants will be using stamps and an ink pad as tools for creation and exploration. 413-736-4561. 200 Park Street. West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Filling the need for spaces in which to combine art and science, maker spaces and meet-up groups are popping up all over western Massachusetts! Offering communitybased opportunities to think, make, do, learn, and share, these groups and spaces can be valuable to young makers! Read more in our post, Maker Spaces: Community-Based Opportunities to Think, Make, Do, Learn and Share!


Monday, October 24, 6pm
Studying phenomena such as ripples in space requires advanced mathematics and knowledge of physics. Sci Tech Cafe talks bring advanced STEM topics to the community through presentation and discussion. This talk, “Einstein Gravitational Waves: Measuring Ripples in Space from a Billion Years Ago,” will explore concepts such as collisions in space and the impact of new technology on scientific understanding. This event is open to the public. Email scitechcafe@gmail.com with any questions. Union Station. 125 Pleasant Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)


Wednesday, October 26, 7pm
Amherst Cinema’s Science on Screen pairs films with talks by experts in STEM fields, providing both education and entertainment. This program will feature the 2015 film Embrace of the Serpent (not rated) and a talk by medical anthropologist Dr. Chris Dole. The film tells the story of the relationship between an Amazonian shaman, and two scientists. This program may appeal to people interested in Latin American studies, botany, and industrialization. 413- 253-2547. 28 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (<$)

Civic Engagement

Thursday, October 27, 5pm
As political and economic climates shift over time, generations may have different political goals or priorities. That is why it’s important for adults of all ages to engage with local politics (and why it’s important that adults advocate for the needs of children). The Franklin County Young Professionals Group is hosting this millennial engagement open forum, inviting student groups from area high schools and colleges. All are welcome to attend, and to engage in a discussion about the political concerns of the millennial group. The forum will be held in the Greenfield Community College Dining Commons. 413-775-1801. 1 College Drive. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)


Friday, October 28, 6:30pm-8pm
Does someone in your family want to be a doctor? Anyone with an interest in biology, medicine, and all things “blood and guts” will enjoy this hands-on science program at the Dickinson Memorial Library. Participants will have the chance to touch real human bones, listen to their hearts beat, see x-rays and germs. In this program, presented by Baystate Franklin Medical Center, you will learn about surgery, radiology, nutrition, audiology, infection, respiration, and more. 413-498-2455. 115 Main Street. Northfield, MA. (FREE)

[Photo credit: (cc) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region]

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Blandford, Bernardston, Chesterfield, Erving, Holyoke, Montague, Montgomery, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Springfield, Warwick and Williamsburg Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Donate Now

Support Hilltown Families, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, with your tax-deductible donation.






Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: