School & Group Programs at Pleasant Valley
Through field studies and classroom explorations, Mass Audubon school programs provide hands-on, inquiry-based experiences with science content and practices. Our educators enhance students’ scientific understanding of species and habitats; ecological concepts such as food webs, cycles, systems, adaptation, and evolution; climate change; and interrelationships between people and nature.
Mass Audubon West stretches from the Berkshires to the Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts. More than 11,800 acres of protected land across 19 sanctuaries provide essential wildlife and plant habitat and endless possibilities for connecting and learning in nature. Sanctuaries frequently visited by school groups include Arcadia in Northampton and Easthampton, Laughing Brook in Hampden, Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield, and Pleasant Valley.
Set amidst more than 1,400 lush acres in Lenox, Pleasant Valley’s varied trails wind through forests, meadows, beaver ponds, and wetlands. While exploring, there’s a good chance you will see evidence of the sanctuary’s most visible wildlife resident—the beaver—via dams, lodges, and feeding areas they create. Trails range from gentle and accessible pond views to steep and challenging ascents to inspiring views. Accessible trails and restrooms are available at this site.
What to Expect When You Visit
Are you preparing to visit us with a group of students, including those with special needs? If so, we encourage you to review this step-by-step photo tour (Social Story) of Pleasant Valley that shows you what to expect!
In-School and at the Sanctuary
Whether you want to bring nature into the classroom or take lessons outside, our programs for schools offer insight into New England habitats and native species and enrich natural history and science lessons while strengthening students’ connections to the environment.
Arcadia offers field trip programs for schools at the sanctuary, in-school programs led by a Mass Audubon teacher naturalist, and hybrid programs that incorporate both an in-class and in-the-field experience. Download the West School Programs Brochure to learn more about our offerings and contact us for assistance choosing or designing the right program for your needs.
Teacher Professional Development
Mass Audubon’s Professional Development programs are designed to increase content knowledge, provide teachers with hands-on, STEM-focused learning experiences, and offer resources for teaching engaging, inquiry-based science lessons in the schoolyard or classroom. In-person and virtual workshops are available, along with consulting and site visits.
Mass Audubon works with districts and schools to engage Pre-K–Grade 12 teachers in meaningful professional development experiences that immerse teachers in the science of nature and the nature of science, furthering teacher expertise in nature-based learning, climate change, environmental literacy, environmental justice, and inquiry-based science. Our instructors are experienced educators, deeply interested in the experiences of teachers, and able to relate to the challenges of classroom teaching.
Mass Audubon offers both school-based PD programs to engage an entire grade level team or department in a deep dive on a particular topic or unit, as well as virtual and in-person public workshops throughout the year that are open to any educator. For an immersive experience, try one of our professional development Summer Institutes!