Tag Archives: pleasant valley

Boy running across boardwalk at Wellfleet Bay

Hikes to Squeeze in Before the School Year Starts

Thinking about back to school already?! Wasn’t summer just getting started? We get it, we feel it, and we have just the thing to help you savor the last few weeks of precious summer vacation.

Go on a hike, see something new, and discreetly get the kids’ brains back into “learning mode”.

For Late Summers on the Cape

Have one last trip to the Cape planned? Check out Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellfleet, where you can explore relaxing trails and coastal seascapes. We recommend finding your way to the boardwalk, which winds through the salt marsh to the beach.

In the late summer, you’ll find a wealth of marine life and migrating shorebirds, and fruiting plants that help them refuel for migration. You can learn about the effects of climate change, coastal erosion, and sea level rise. And, at the Nature Center’s learning stations, find out about our wildlife conservation and research programs, including Diamondback Terrapin nest protection, cold-stunned sea turtle rescue, Horseshoe Crab monitoring, and ongoing research on Whimbrel migration.

We call this the “I can see the ocean!” run

For The Berkshires Travelers

Maybe you’re craving more mountains than beach. If so, you’ll love soaking in the summer sunsets from the high elevations at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox.

Check out the Trail of the Ledges/Overbrook Loop track for an 850 vertical foot hike to the top of Lenox Mountain (2,126 foot elevation). Take in the views of Mount Greylock to the north, the Taconic Range to the west, and the Catskill Mountains of New York to the southwest. 

Ahh, just the high-level life perspective you need before back to school shopping. © Brooks Payne

For a Lesson on Food & Farming

Picture this: the school year is in full swing, there’s homework to be done, and dinner to cook. The last thing you want to do is negotiate eating vegetables. However, you can get ahead of the chaos by teaching healthy eating habits before the school year starts at these farms.

Drumlin Farm in Lincoln and Moose Hill in Sharon are Mass Audubon’s working farms and wildlife sanctuaries, dedicated to growing food sustainably, organically, and without chemical pesticides. Squeeze in a fun visit to either so you can show your family where and how their food is grown, and create a positive connection between them and fresh produce.

On the weekends, stop by the farm stands for a tasty souvenir of your adventures. And if you’re visiting Drumlin Farm, don’t forget to traverse the Farmyard Loop to say hi to our resident barnyard animals⁠—cows, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, and more!

For Those Last-Minute Summer Reading Logs

Thornton W. Burgess, children’s author most known for his classic bedtime stories and that featured the beloved character Peter Rabbit, was inspired by the wildlife and landscape of present-day Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden.

It’s not hard to see why—this sanctuary is teeming with life. Burgess’s former home is viewable from Main Street, now on the historic register and currently occupied by staff. Explore the 4 miles of trails that wind through this magical, historic sanctuary, before settling into bed with a classic Burgess tale.

“Peter sat bolt upright with his eyes very wide open. In them was a funny look of surprise as he stared up at Jenny Wren. “What are you talking about, Jenny Wren?” he demanded. “Don’t you know that none of the Rabbit family swim unless it is to cross the Laughing Brook when there is no other way of getting to the other side…”

-The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess

For a Lesson on Reclaimed Outdoor Spaces

The story of our Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Plymouth is one that inspires current and future management of outdoor spaces. Once a working cranberry farm, this landscape recently underwent the largest freshwater ecological restoration ever completed in the Northeast. Now, Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary is a 481-acre property that’s home to a vast expanse of cold-water streams, ponds, forest, and woodlands—all permanently protected and open for everyone to enjoy!

Explore the four miles of trails that traverse the reclaimed wetlands of Tidmarsh and keep an eye out for signs of the returning healthy ecosystem, including herons, ducks, turtles, and frogs. A great lesson in biodiversity for budding biologists and ecologists!


In Your Words: Libby Herland

In Your Words is a regular feature of Mass Audubon’s Explore member newsletter. Each issue, a Mass Audubon member, volunteer, staff member, or supporter shares his or her story—why Mass Audubon and protecting the nature of Massachusetts matters to them. If you have a story to share about your connection to Mass Audubon, email [email protected] to be considered for In Your Words in a future issue! 

Libby Herland - Canoe Meadows

Libby Herland – Canoe Meadows

Mass Audubon is a golden thread—no, a circle—that has run through my entire life. It started back in 1971 when I was able to get a city-sponsored summer job. Awakened by the Earth Day movement, I asked to work outdoors. Mass Audubon agreed to host a precocious and completely “green” (in more ways than one) 16-year- old at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox. I cleaned the museum and gift shop, fed and occasionally wore the boa constrictors (much to the delight or fear of our visitors), and helped with the nature camps.

After studying as a biologist and earning my BS in Marine Biology from the University of West Florida in Pensacola, I worked in various roles to protect water, wetlands, and wildlife for almost 40 years. I am profoundly grateful for and proud of the opportunities I had to serve at the regional, state, and federal level, but the last 29 years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were the most rewarding.

I had the great privilege to manage national wildlife refuges in the Northeast, including eight in Eastern Massachusetts. There, working with wonderful staff, volunteers, friends, and conservation partners, including Mass Audubon, we managed and restored wildlife and habitat on 17,000 acres of land and water and provided opportunities to learn about and connect with nature to more than half a million visitors per year.

Libby Herland

Libby Herland

Now in retirement, I find myself connected to Mass Audubon in a different but still deeply rewarding way. As a volunteer at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in Pittsfield and at Pleasant Valley, I have led trail maintenance projects, developed a volunteer trail steward program, pulled invasive garlic mustard plants, and helped with special events, to name just a few of the projects I have worked on.

As a member of the Berkshire Sanctuaries Advisory Committee, I provide input on policies and programs. I am thrilled that my expertise and experience is helpful to a place that I love with all my heart. Coming back to Mass Audubon feels like a symbolic closing of the circle of environmental protection that began here almost 50 years ago and has enriched my life in so many ways.

Libby Herland is a Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries Advisory Committee Member and volunteer.