Executive Director, Hitchcock Center for the Environment
Organization The Hitchcock Center for the Environment (Hitchcock Center) is a nationally recognized environmental education center known for its talented educators, progressive leadership, and innovative programming. The Hitchcock Center’s programs have an intentional focus on inclusion and accessibility. Participants are offered scholarships, reduced cost, and free programs, while educators work with school systems from across the region. They have inspired young learners and adults in indoor and outdoor classrooms for almost six decades, and in recent years, the Hitchcock Center has assumed a powerful new role in the face of climate change. At a time when our species faces the biggest environmental challenge we have ever seen, the Hitchcock Center recognizes that “effective learning must be transformative, directly inspiring engagement and action.” Many of the Hitchcock Center’s highly valued staff members have been employed by the organization for a decade or more. They have devoted their careers to working with a diverse range of learners of all ages. As educators, they have continued to develop their own professional expertise, broadening their capacity to design new curriculum materials and complementary activities. Through the vitality of its connections with schools, its professional development for educators, and its focus on engaging families throughout the region, the Hitchcock Center has become a respected leader in its field. Since 2017, the average number of program participants has exceeded 10,000 annually, excluding FY2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic impacted program participation. In the years ahead, the Hitchcock Center’s potential for initiating new programs, and making them accessible to a broader regional, statewide, and national population, is exciting to both the board and the staff. The Hitchcock Center is located in Amherst, a culturally and educationally rich western Massachusetts area, home to the Five Colleges and in close proximity to numerous museums; near music, theater, and dance venues; and near a range of sports, camping, and outdoor recreation sites. The Hitchcock Center employs thirteen staff, in addition to seasonal camp staff, and has an operating budget of $850,000. Strategically positioned to fulfill its mission “to educate and to inspire action for a healthy planet,” the Hitchcock Center opened the doors to its new home, a 9,000-square foot “living” environmental education center in the Fall of 2016. An award-winning structure, and the 23rd certified Living Building in the world, it was built in response to the Living Building Challenge. Its construction followed a highly successful capital campaign that has raised almost $7 million, and adheres to “holistic standards incorporating the most progressive thinking from architecture, engineering, planning, interiors, landscape design, and policy.” The Living Building, with its focus on sustainability, responsibly sourced, nontoxic materials, and net-zero energy, is a unique teaching tool that promises to expand the reach of the Hitchcock Center, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Programs The Hitchcock Center’s programs throughout western Massachusetts and beyond, include: PreK-12 School Programs Developing critical thinkers equipped to meet the complex environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Children, Youth and Family Supporting children’s intellectual, social, emotional, and physical learning through hands-on science and outdoor education. Adult Education Building a base of environmentally curious, intelligent, and engaged individuals working to make our planet a better place to live. Professional Development Serving as a premier training site for educators in the best practices of environmental education and teaching excellence. Since opening their doors to the Living Building, the Hitchcock Center has experienced a 50% increase in the number of participants and visitors to the Center, and in the geographic regions served. Program participants and visitors include those from communities throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as more than 20 states across the nation and 30 countries around the world. The potential for expanded programs and new collaborative partnerships marks a momentous turning point in the organization’s development.