Hilltown Families

Archives

Elms College is throwing a Bioblitz this Saturday at Chicopee Memorial State Park. Teachers, students, parents and friends of all ages are invited to team up with scientists to identify as many of the park’s living creatures as possible in a single day. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet people working in scientific fields and ask them questions about science in general or about their careers specifically. Participation can get community members interested in the biodiversity of their local lands, and as a result make them more invested in conservation efforts. Documenting of local species can give scientists clues for further research. You never know what you’re going to find until you look! Register online.

Volunteer for river conservation by participating in the Westfield River Committee’s Watershed Blitz! River-loving, conservation-minded families can volunteer alongside experts in order to spot and identify the many plant and animal species that reside on the river’s banks – working together to gather useful information about the local environment. Held in celebration of the committee’s 20th year of preservation work, the event not only supports future preservation, but promotes community participation in the process!

Here in western Massachusetts, we’ve done well… Where once recycling & reusing was an odd thing, now it’s quickly becoming the norm. There is still much work to be done and habits to change… This month, “Parenting Green” looks at how we can further reduce waste by switching to non-disposable consumption habits, making it a new norm for a new generation. Read on to see how you can lessen your carbon footprint and increase your impact, modeling wise habits for your children to emulate too.

Unidentified keys, trophies from the early 80’s & broken crayons… these three things can clutter up your junk drawer, attics and art supplies. Here are three unique recycling programs that recycle all three of these items for good causes. Gather items together with your kids, ask your neighbors if they have any to contribute too, then package up and ship off. These teaching moments can spark conversations with your kids about the importance of recycling and helping others.

Unwrapping gifts this morning? Have a mini-mountain of wrapping paper, or pieces strewn across your living room? Did you know that all wrapping paper is recyclable (except wrapping paper with foil)? Recycle your wrapping paper this year with your other paper…

Last week an energetic group of Hilltown Families citizen scientists and Kurt Heidinger, Executive Director of Biocitizen, conducted our fourth annual rapid biotic assessment of the Westfield River in West Chesterfield. This month in Kurt’s post, “The Ripple,” hear all about it, what we found and images from the afternoon…

Project BudBurst Citizen Scientist Opportunity for Families & Students Students can learn so much by following the seasonal patterns of plants found here in New England. Each plant’s cycle is different, and varies depending on factors like location and weather patterns.  Tracking a plant through its seasonal changes can help us to better understand the subtle changes that take place in our environment, and says a lot about where we live. This… Read More

Westfield River Wild & Scenic Call for Hilltown Artists The Westfield River Wild & Scenic advisory committee invites local artists of all ages to paint wooden suitcases that will “Travel the Watershed” this summer! “Many artists choose to live in the Hilltowns because of the inspiring landscape and the pristine river that runs through it,” writes the Westfield River Wild & Scenic advisory committee. “The idea for a call to artists is to… Read More

Focus on Feeders Mass Audubon Winter Bird Count February 2nd & 3rd, 2013 Does your family enjoy watching birds at your feeder during the winter?  Backyard feeders provide a consistent, easily accessible source of food for a wide variety of bird species during the winter, and feeder-watching is a great way for families to learn about the many different species who live in their neighborhood. This weekend, Mass Audubon is offering a… Read More

Supplement Habitat Studies with the Junior Duck Stamp Program Western Massachusetts is home to a wide variety of duck species.  These beautiful birds make their homes in wetland areas, a habitat in need of conservation.  Students can learn about duck species and help to promote wetland conservation by participating in the Federal Fish and Wildlife Services’ Junior Duck Stamp Program!  This contest calls for students to create their own stamps, featuring a… Read More

Winter Trail Days to Chasing Ice. Preschool Fair to Teen Social Justice. Worksongs to Work of 1000… 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… Read More

It’s a Wrap!  Time to Recycle! Unwrapping gifts this morning?  Have a mini-mountain of wrapping paper, or pieces strewn across your living room? Did you know that all wrapping paper is recyclable (except wrapping paper with foil)? Recycle your wrapping paper this year with your other paper. Also, keep in mind that all cardboard gift boxes, tissue paper, gift cards and paper shopping bags are recyclable (just no foil or glitter), and… Read More

Christmas Bird Count: An Annual Citizen Scientist 24 Hour Hunt for Bird Species Leslie Reed-Evans writes: Imagine standing at the edge of a frosty field on a chill December morning.  Out of the corner of your eye you see an electric flash of blue- a male Eastern Bluebird flying to a wild rose bush to munch on its fruit1 – This is a scene played out all over New England, and indeed… Read More

Families Learn about the Relationship Between Benthic Invertebrates and River Ecology with Hilltown Families & Biocitizen Halloween’s upon us and the leaves are almost down—and for river lovers that means it’s time to do Rapid Biotic Assessments (RBA), which involves capturing and cataloging the bugs—benthic invertebrates —that live on the riverbed. Certain bugs like stonefly-nymphs need lots of oxygen to survive, and when you find a bunch of them, it’s a sign… Read More

Organize a Bioblitz in Your Community! Are your kids curious about all of the many different plants and animals that they find while exploring outside?  Have you ever been curious about the amount of biodiversity in your community?  Would your students benefit from a hands-on species identification project?  Do a bioblitz! A bioblitz is a community event designed to quickly compile information on biodiversity in a relatively small area.  Community members of… Read More

Thinking Like A Watershed One of the funnier thoughts I’ve heard goes like this: “I want to be one with nature.” You might have heard of this thought, or a variation of it, too. The reason I find it funny is that it’s actually impossible not to be “one with nature,” if being “one” means directly, physically and existentially connected to the vital sources of being. If, by any chance, you are… Read More

Source-to-Sea Clean-Up in Hampden County Sunday, Sept. 30th The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees), United Water, and Holyoke Friends of the River have joined forces this fall to organize a river clean-up volunteer day on the banks of the Connecticut River. On Sunday, September 30th, from 9am-Noon, folks of all ages and abilities are invited to meet at the American Legion next to Pulaski Park (50 St. Kolbe Dr., Holyoke, MA) to… Read More

Adopt Your Local Stream or River Rivers and streams are beautiful. That’s why we are drawn to them, deeply and elementally. The first colonists in Western Massachusetts hugged close to the rivers because of the abundance of life that issued from and through them, and our (or at least my) favorite town of all—Northampton—still retains much of the vibrancy of its original biocultural character: an idealistic, community-oriented and caring character generated by… Read More

ReUse Rally for the Arts: A Call for Artisans What can you do with old clothes, leftover non-recyclable containers, bits of string, extra drops of paint, and seemingly useless utensils? Make art! The Northampton DPW ReUse Committee is hosting an artisan show featuring work made from recycled, reused, and found materials – titled, “ReUse Rally for the Arts,” the event will both showcase interesting and radical work from local artisans, as well… Read More

Wondering what to do with old clothing that is ripped, stained or otherwise unable to donate/wear? Melissa Weinberger of Easthampton writes, “I am about to throw a huge bag of old clothing into the garbage and wondering if there’s another way. We already use a lot of old t-shirts, etc. as rags, but this is stuff that seems headed for the landfill unless there’s another option.” Thanks to Riché for recommending the… Read More

What Are We Going to Do Now Aldo Leopold was one of the shining lights of our long-awakening ecological movement; and he said that one of the drawbacks of seeing the world from the ecological perspective is that, at the same time you see the incredible beauty of the kinship of all living creatures, you also see the damage being done to our great shared life. He implored educational leaders to not… Read More

Be sure to check our Best Bets for this weekend, Jun 9 & 10, for several fabulous community celebrations!  We’ve featured Riverfest in Shelburne Falls, the Children’s Book Festival Baseball Bonanza in Amherst, Bear Fest in Easthampton, Hilltown Bluegrass Festival in Goshen, and The Mount’s Family Day in Lenox. Aside from these homeruns, families can build upon their nature studies, explore local history, enjoy the outdoors and participate in community service with… Read More

3 Apps to Explore & Engage with Your Environment While adventuring outdoors to enjoy local landscapes this summer, families can integrate their mobile devices into their trek to create environmental learning opportunities! Three applications – CreekWatch, Leafsnap, and the WildLab – are all designed to teach users about their environment and to help monitor and conserve natural resources.  All three applications provide ways for families to integrate technology into their outdoor adventures… Read More

QUESTION AND ANSWERS What are your thoughts on genetically engineered food? Are you comfortable feeding food that has been genetically modified to your kids? Do you think it should be labeled? Faye Adamsyes writes, “GM food is synthetic, gross and not nutritious. Label it please.” Robin Morgan Huntley writes, “I don’t have kids, but if/when I do, I will definitely avoid it – I try not to feed it to myself, either…. Read More

Get Into the Flow Like a Mayfly “Rivers can take this—don’t worry!” said Jason Johnson, who works with Masswildlife’s Caleb Slater to stock our streams with trout and salmon, after hearing me whine about the drought. “Most droughts occur in late summer. The fact that this one is happening as the leaves come out…” I’d worried. “The tree species that are native to our area can handle this. It happened a few… Read More

Earth Day Weekend 2012 Earth Day is this weekend and there are several ways families can be eco and community minded this weekend and next. COMMUNITY SERVICE Volunteering in their community can help kids learn to appreciate the resources available to them, and spring clean-ups are a great way to get involved. Here are five community service clean-ups which families can take part in: In Plainfield the Historical Society will be planting… Read More

Hatfield Youth Take Action! Raising Funds to Save Panda and Polar Bears Did you know that there are more people in Hatfield than there are pandas in the world? The Youth Action Committee at the Hatfield Library is doing a group project to help save polar and panda bears from extinction, and they will be holding a yard sale to raise money to donate to the cause.  The sale will take place… Read More

Western MA Youth  Can Help Deerfield River Watershed Association Protect Vernal Pools as Citizen Scientists During springtime, our surroundings burst with new life!  One of the most interesting and least known about natural environments is the vernal pool- pools develop in the early spring while snow melts and the ground becomes softer, and pools of water gather becoming home to a laying ground for frogs and salamanders. BECOME A CITIZEN SCIENTIST Vernal… Read More

Earth Day Eco-Tips from Western MA Families “Egg cartons make great seed starters! Windows sills are wonderful places to grow the tiny seeds! Kids love to watch life happen inside and outside their world!” – Elizabeth Jensen (Leeds, MA) “Toilet paper rolls become trumpets in our house.” – Jessica Morris (Northampton, MA) “My daughter Kacia, age 8, is fanatical about litter. We recently went to the Energy Park clean up and Kacia… Read More

%d bloggers like this: