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On a rainy evening (or two or three) very soon, all over New England, when the snow and ice are almost gone, and the temperature is 40 degrees or more, frogs and salamanders will make their annual spring migration. They wend their way from their upland winter havens to the vernal pools where they hatched to lay their fertilized eggs in the water. Sometimes, however, roads cross these ancient paths, and many of them are killed. The Wendell State Forest Alliance invites families to help our fellow amphibian neighbors avoid this fate by participating as a salamander crossing guard! Here’s how…

Similar to fall, the spring season is a time of transition as habitats and animals begin to respond to the change in weather and climate. Phenology-based activities coincide with the natural changing of our seasons (our ultimate accessible community-based educational resource) and are great catalysts for learning through community engagement. Maple syrup season, filled with delicious community activities and opportunities, is our first crop of the year, followed by another seasonal event as winter transitions into spring…Vernal Pools!

Just in time for the awakening of amphibian species, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary offers a training on the FrogWatch citizen science project! Using this and other resources, families can learn about local species of frogs and salamanders and can engage in important conservation work.

“When you travel you think to find out about all the interesting places to visit; sometimes you forget to look around in your own backyard. Hilltown Families is a wonderful resource that reminds me of all the fun things to do right here in the region.” – Heather LaPenn

What are your plans during April school vacation week? Our list of weekly suggested events for this weekend and during school break is up and PACKED with great ideas!

“As each weekend approaches, I immediately look to Hilltown Families to see if there are events & happenings that might interest us. We have often found really fun things to do that we may not have heard of otherwise and many times events are free which is an added bonus! I have recommended the Hilltown Families site to countless families that have moved to the area and are looking for fun things to do. Thank you Hilltown Families–you are a fabulous resource!” – Sara Cahillane (Whately, MA)

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: March Segment Vernal Pools: Natural Habitats & Local Species as Community Resources Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News!  Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield,  joins Mass Appeal hosts, Ashley Kohl and Seth Stutman, to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the… Read More

Families can explore and map local vernal pools all on their own! The process of inspecting, mapping, and tracking present species is quite a project to undertake as a family, but is one that can provide endless opportunities for learning and exploration of the natural world.

Springtime outdoor exploration with kids is sure to lead to discoveries of egg masses if you live near still or slow-moving water. There’s a lot to be learned just from examining the egg masses themselves, but there’s even more to be learned by watching the eggs hatch, develop, and grow from a gelatinous cluster into full-sized frogs! Families can schedule regular visits to a pond or vernal pool to watch these future-frogs grow, but it’s much easier to see the small daily changes that occur if the eggs are right inside your home or classroom.

Check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events and discover community building and educational opportunities happening all over the region for all ages! Event highlights this week include vernal pool explorations, egg hunts, Earth Day celebrations, theater, fundraisers, community service opportunities, and much MUCH more!

Studies of vernal pools support learning in many areas of interest, and a close look at amphibian reproduction can help to spark children’s curiosity about other aspects of amphibian life. Find out what’s happening in Western MA this spring!

How do spring peepers know when to start singing? How do spring peepers know when to start singing? They don’t have weather reports, or the ability to see the buds forming on trees, the snow melting, or teens walking around in shorts and T’s when it’s 40 degrees and climbing. Certainly, there are scientific reasons that explain how peepers know when to announce the return of the sun and the warmth; but… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening,… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening,… Read More

Exploring Vernal Pools in Western MA Are your kids studying life cycles, ecology or habitats?  Have you thought about taking them to check out a vernal pool in your area?  These ephemeral habitats are wonderful places for exploring and for supplementing an interest in nature science.  Every spring there are often facilitated community events to participate in with your family to explore vernal pools.  Here are upcoming events happening in Western MA:… Read More

What the Peepers Are Telling Us Last night, I sped my family home from a week of Spring Break that took us far from the Nonotuck biome. As they slumbered in their car seats, I was feeling anxious—Had the leaf buds burst yet? I couldn’t see; it was too dark.  This fleeting moment of the return of life is one of the sweetest in the circle of seasons, isn’t it? The thought… 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

Searching for Spring Spring has taken its sweet time coming our way. I grew up in a city, and now I live in a smaller one with my family. As a child my mother would take us out of New York around the change of seasons. She said she missed the small seasonal transitions you can only notice in the country and the woods: leaf buds unfurling in springtime, and the first… Read More

Sean Chapel writes: How do we know when a good night will be to see salamanders hatching at a vernal pool? Sheri Rosenblum of Plainfield, MA replies: Trying to guess what night spotted salamanders eggs will hatch would be similar to guessing the day of a first snowfall or when that last pile of snow behind the house might melt.  Many factors will influence the timing of this event. While the date… Read More

This week’s podcast for families offers a selection of songs that feature birds and the joys of spring!

Vernal pools teem with life but only for a short time. So here is my suggestion. Walk to the biggest hardwood forest area you can find. Take your kids. Take your neighbors kids. Find a vernal pool. Once you have identified a pool, walk back and visit it often until it dries up.

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