Learning opportunities for all ages

Here are programs that satisfy our curiosities, open doors to new skills, invite us to explore and help us live more sustainably. Designed for adults and teens (age 15 and up), these lectures, hands-on workshops and field trips take participants into exciting realms of learning.
Environmental and cultural history topics are offered each year. Some are old favorites and some are brand new to our line-up!

Our full schedule of events was affected in 2020 by the pandemic…stay tuned as event planning resumes.

Other happenings can be found on our Community Events page!
 FUNdraising Events have become annual traditions, and support all of our programming.
The Calendar of Events has all the details!

From nature to crafts to the stars, and more, The Institute's Community Learning programs offer something for everyone!

These are some of the programs regularly or occasionally offered through The Institute’s Community Learning forum.

Underwriting support for Community Learning is provided in part by Marge Kiersz; Lucinda D. Potter, CPA; SEK CPAs and Advisors; and by Today’s Horizon Fund Contributors: The Nora Roberts Foundation; The John R. Hershey Jr. and Anna L. Hershey Family Foundation; Alma W. Oyer; APX Enclosures, Inc.; and The Carolyn Terry Eddy Family: Carolyn, with daughters Connie Fleagle & Kim Larkin. Additional sponsors and programming partners listed within event descriptions.

Creatures of the Night Owl Walks

Offered twice each year in fall and winter. Naturalist Lori Schlosser conducts this outdoor walk to areas of Renfrew Park most likely to attract owls. A brief pre-walk information session will help participants learn more about these nocturnal creatures and the methods used to locate them. The owl walks are free but enrollment is limited to 50 and pre-registration is required.

“SOAR” Bird Walks (“Studying Ornithology Around the Region”)

Birding enthusiasts Larry and Sharon Williams lead bird walks along hiking trails at various locations around the region. Participants should wear comfortable walking shoes and may bring identification books and binoculars. Free.
Check the Calendar of Events to find the location for specific dates, or email us at: info@natureandcultureinstitute.org.

Special Astronomy Program

Dr. Lawrence Marschall, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Gettysburg College, presents a program on an aspect of astronomy. Always entertaining and informative, past programs have featured Pluto, comets, and many other astronomically fascinating topics. Star viewing after the program, weather permitting. Free.

Annual Lecture Series

Sponsored by Robert and Grace Brown. The Institute’s Annual Lecture Series spotlights various cultural and environmental aspects of our community with three presentations. Past series have included Pollinators and Night Fliers: Bees, Bats and Butterflies; Collections: Buttons, Trains, and Phonographs, and Harvest Close to Home. Free.

Musical Instrument Workshops

Past instrument workshops have included handcrafting a clay ocarina and creating a bamboo rainstick. Pre-registration required, fee applies. Ages 15 & up.

Heritage Craft Workshops

Past workshops featured chair caning, basketry, scherenschnitte (paper cutting), tin piercing and more. Pre-registration required, fee applies. Ages 15 & up.

Special Joint Program with Antietam Watershed Association

An educational program of local or regional environmental interest. Past topics have included water quality monitoring, forest conservation, and phenology, the study of the reoccurring life cycle stages of plants and animals.

Annual Geology Program

Presented in partnership with the Franklin County Rock & Mineral Club. Geologist Jeri Jones brings a quick-paced and informative program on fascinating aspects of the local underground world. Enjoy a PowerPoint tour of some of these sites as Jones explains their importance, origin and meaning. Jones also leads geology field trips in summer months.

Geology Field Trips 

Stops vary each year, with a focus on the geologic history and topography of our region. Field trippers will travel to areas that may include coal mines, quarries and other sites of geological interest. Geared for families, the trip includes collecting fossils, minerals and rocks along with some nifty geologic sites. Great opportunity to fulfill Boy Scout requirements or homeschooler project. Transportation by bus only, provided. Fee applies and pre-registration required.

Off-Site Birding Field Trips to Gettysburg Battlefield

Two Saturdays in June from 7:30 a.m. to approx. 10 a.m. Larry and Sharon Williams lead off-site birding trips to Gettysburg battlefield. The American kestrel, pileated woodpecker, bluebird, meadowlark, indigo bunting, and red-tail hawk, along with robins, orioles, cardinals and more have been spotted at Gettysburg. Bring binoculars, bird identification books and cameras, and wear comfortable shoes for walking. Also suggested, water and snacks, or lunch.

Telescope Clinic—Learn How to Use Your Telescope!

Presented in partnership with Tri-State Astronomers, this “telescope clinic” is designed to help you learn how to maximize your use of a telescope. A telescope isn’t much fun if you don’t know how to use it—if you have a telescope and you’re not sure what to do next, bring it to the telescope clinic for some guidance. Free, but registration is required to reserve consultation time.

All About Telescopes: Advisory Session

Presented in partnership with Tri-State Astronomers. A telescope information and advisory session for those in the market for a telescope. The event is held indoors, and is free. Registration is not required. Event coordinator, Andy Smetzer said, “If anyone is wondering what kind of telescope to buy, our club members will share expert opinions and advice on telescopes.”

Special-Interest Programs

Usually presented in May, these programs highlight an aspect of nature, the environment, or of cultural interest. Past topics have included gardening with native plant species, deer-resistant plants, wildflowers, bees, and more.