Adult Programs

Environmental Studies Institute

The Harris Center’s Environmental Studies Institute (ESI) courses provide opportunities for adults to learn about the Monadnock Region’s natural history, connect to the outdoors, and engage in meaningful discussion about the environment. ESI programs are currently on summer break, but read on for a sampling of our most recent offerings and check back again in late August for our fall listings!

New Hampshire’s Forests: See the Forest and the Trees
a picture of Tom Wessels in the woods

Tom Wessels, award-winning ecologist and author of Reading the Forested Landscape, will kick off this five-week series on New Hampshire forests.
(photo courtesy of the Mountain School)

Join foresters, historians, ecologists, and poets for a short course on the past, present, and future of New Hampshire’s forests. Discover how the Granite State’s different forest types reflect and define our unique terrain. Learn how to look at our landscape through the eyes of a forester. Kicking this series off is award-winning author and ecologist Tom Wessels, author of Reading the Forested Landscape, The Granite Landscape, and Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape. Other presenters will include: Executive Director of the Harris Center and Professor of Forestry, Jeremy Wilson; UNH Cooperative Extension Forester, Steve Roberge; and local forester and poet, Swift Corwin. We’ll conclude with an optional, easy hike to a nearby trail. Co-sponsored by the Harris Center for Conservation Education, Keene State College‘s Cheshire Academy for Lifelong Learning (CALL) program, and RiverMead.

This course will meet on Thursdays, March 30 and April 6, 13, 20, and 27, from 2 to 3 p.m. in the RiverMead Auditorium, 150 RiverMead Road, Peterborough. There is an optional hike onThursday, May 4, from2 to 3 p.m.

Cost: $50 for RiverMead-affiliated participants / $60 all others

Space is limited, and registration is required. RiverMead residents, wait-list members, and Village depositors can register by contacting Kim Mansfield at (603) 924-0033, ext. 201. All others, register by contacting Keene State College’s Office of Continuing Education at (603) 358-2290.

Spring Birding: Indoors and Out
a picture of a Northern Parula

Bird banding offers a close-up look at our local songbirds, like this Northern Parula. (photo: Byard Miller)

At the time of year when each day brings a new song our way, let’s look at which birds are returning and what they’ll be up to in the coming months. Polly Pattison will discuss migration, nesting, and bird habitat, and we’ll spend some time watching for spring beauties.

This course meets on Thursdays, April 27, and May 11, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Harris Center.  It also includes a bird banding demonstration on Saturday, June 17, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Harris Center.

Cost: $30 for Harris Center members / $50 non-members

Instructor: Polly Pattison is a longtime teacher/naturalist for the Harris Center. Given the chance, she’ll study, band, follow, and watch birds any place, any time, in any weather.

Space is limited, and registration is required. For more information or to register, contact Sara LeFebvre at (603) 525-3394 or

Walking and Seeing with Your Dog
a picture of a happy dog hiking on a leash

This series offers a chance for dogs and their people to practice polite on-leash hiking skills, and to explore the natural world. (photo: Steven Sarkisian)

Hiking with our dogs is an opportunity to exercise more than our bodies. On three consecutive Thursdays, we’ll hike around the Monadnock Humane Society‘s (MHS) Swanzey campus with Harris Center naturalist Susie Spikol Faber and MHS Dog Trainer Amee Abel. We’ll work with our dogs on their polite on-leash hiking skills and learn how to read our dogs’ behavior in groups. As we walk, we’ll also learn about local wildlife that might catch our dogs’ attention. Prerequisites: a social dog who has successfully completed a basic manners training class, your commitment to all three weeks, and a willingness to walk in all kinds of weather.

This group meets on Thursdays, May 11, 18, and 25, from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Monadnock Humane Society.

Cost: $45

Space is limited, and registration is required. For more information or to register, contact MHS at (603) 352-9011, ext. 206.

Tree Identification
a picture of seven different twigs

Twigs offer important clues about tree identity.
(diagram: Woodland Classroom)

Join tree guru Steve Roberge for an introduction to basic tree identification skills. From leaves to bark to buds to silhouettes, New Hampshire trees give us clues about who they are. Through a combination of indoor lectures and short field trips, this class will teach you how to read those clues.

This course meets on Thursdays, May 25, June 1, and June 8, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Harris Center.

Cost: $45 for Harris Center members / $65 non-members

Instructor: Steve Roberge is the Cheshire County Extension Forester for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. He really knows his trees.

Space is limited, and registration is required. For more information or to register, contact Sara LeFebvre at (603) 525-3394 or