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

Listed below the video 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, and SEK CPAs & Advisors. Additional support provided by The Institute’s Today’s Horizon Fund contributors: The Nora Roberts Foundation; Marge Kiersz; and the Carolyn Terry Eddy Family: Carolyn, with daughters Connie Fleagle & Kim Larkin.

Check out this video of our most recent Village Stories: Memories & Lore from Waynesboro’s Surrounding Communities, featuring BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT!
The video was recorded and edited by Andrew Gehman, on Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 7 p.m. at the Fort Ritchie Community Center in Cascade, Md.

Creatures of the Night Owl Walks

Offered twice each year in fall and winter. Naturalist Dave Graff conducts this outdoor walk to natural areas and parks in the region 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 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.
Download the list of monthly locations here, or email us at: [email protected].

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.

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-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.

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.

Birding Field Trips

Occasional special birding field trips led by ornithologists Larry and Sharon Williams and Institute staff naturalists. Past excursions included a trip to see Short-eared Owls, along with other species, hunting over a field in Gettysburg.
Bring binoculars and cameras, and wear comfortable shoes for walking. Details vary by trip. 

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.”