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. Read on for more information on our Winter 2017 offerings!

Birds in Winter

A Pileated Woodpecker forages for winter fruit.
(photo: Meade Cadot)

Where do birds go in winter? How do they stay warm? Why do we see different species from one year to another? Come study winter birds with Harris Center naturalist Polly Pattison and find the answers to your questions! We’ll discuss adaptations, behavior strategies, feeder practices, irruption, and identification of common winter bird species. We’ll also have an opportunity to observe birds at the Harris Center feeders from inside the “Windows on Wildlife” room.

This course will meet on Wednesdays, January 18 and 25, and February 1, from 10 to 11 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

Nature Writers: Reading, Writing, and Discussion

One writer’s pick for “Must-Read Nature Writing.” This ESI course will not necessarily feature these books, though they are worth a read nonetheless!
(photo courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio)

This reflective course is rooted in a keen appreciation for nature and for those who write about it. We’ll discuss writers who offer us their deep observations, poetry, meanderings, humor, spiritual meanings, and scientific study of nature. We’ll enjoy painters, dancers, and composers who pay homage to nature in their works. We’ll take heed and inspiration from authors who warn us about threats to the natural world. And perhaps we’ll do a little of our own writing or painting, as well.

This course will meet on Wednesdays, February 1, 8, 15, and 22, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Hancock Town Library.

Cost: $40 for Harris Center members / $60 non-members

Instructor: David Robins is a retired minister and a trail steward for the Harris Center’s Hiroshi Trail. He loves the writing craft, grew up near the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey, and enjoys canoe trips to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

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

New Hampshire’s Forests: See the Forest and the Trees

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.