Community Education

Speaker Series

Join us for our Speaker Series at Desmond Campus

Women in Hudson Valley History
Vernon Benjamin, author of The History of the Hudson River Valley: From Wilderness to the Civil War and The History of the Hudson River Valley: From the Civil War to Modern Times will focus his talk on women in Hudson Valley history from a 16-year-old heroine of the American Revolution to a woman who started the feminist revolution in the 1960's. Learn about the role women played in the settlement of the Hudson Valley and in the suffrage movement.
Monday, February 19 (Snow date: February 20), 1-2:30 pm, V. Benjamin, $15.00

Feathers: So Much More Than a Down Covering
The feathers of birds are one of the many traits that help identify our winged friends. Feathers can be brightly colored and used to identify species. Not only do feathers help birds stay aloft and warm, they also help attract mates and create sound. Come learn more about the important functions and uses of these highly modified reptilian scales!
Thursday, Feb. 22 (Snow date: March 1), 1-2:30 pm, D. Robinson, Free

The Spirited, Shrewd, and Scandalous Women of Wiltwyck
Dutch colonial society afforded individual rights to all citizens. For more than forty years, the women living in New Amsterdam experienced more autonomy, more rights, and more income than other colonial women. You will be introduced to seven women of Wiltwyck (Kingston). They are all different ages and of different social status, but what they all have in common is their keen understanding of personal rights under Roman-Dutch law. As active and engaged participants in society, they had the ability to stand up for themselves and in some cases to use the resources of the law to support them.
Friday, February 23 (Snow date: March 2), 1-2:30 pm, M. Abramshe, $15.00

Orange County Historian
Inspired at a young age to advocate for local history, Johanna’s passion for preservation cast her on a journey that included museum work, archaeology, and training in traditional building techniques. Her unique perspectives have shaped the field of public history and earned her recognition from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Association of State and Local History. By the age of 30, she had served as a historical society director, restored a historic house, and was appointed as the Orange County Historian and Orange County representative to Hudson Valley Greenway. Hear about how growing up in Newburgh set her life’s work into motion.
Monday, February 26 (Snow date: March 5), 1:30-3 pm, J. Yaun, $15.00

Fire on the Ridge
Learn about the history and the natural role of fire in the Shawangunk Mountains' ecosystem and how fires, planned and unplanned, shape the landscape today.
Tuesday, March 13, 10-11:30 am, H. Alicandri, $15.00

Washington Irving: American Dreams and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Irving's own life was as interesting as his best stories. Using historical reenactments, Jim Ormond's 43-minute documentary traces Irving's life from his beginning as a precocious teenage writer to becoming the most famous man in America. Viewers follow Irving's journey from the streets of early nineteenth-century New York to the palaces of Europe and the American frontier. There will be a Q & A following the documentary.
Thursday, March 15, 1-2:15 pm, J. Ormond, $15.00

Native American Peoples of the Hudson River
Our region has a rich Native American history. When Henry Hudson sailed up the river in 1609, there were thousands of natives living on either side. These nations were part of various loosely-organized Algonquin confederacies, such as the Delaware, the Mahican (also known as the Mohegans), and the Wappinger. By the end of the 1600s, most of the tribal groups had been driven westward or destroyed by war and disease. Learn about Algonquin culture as it existed in our own backyard, including places, names, trails, and villages, many of which are still used today.
Monday, March 19, 6:30-8:30 pm, E. Pritchard, $15.00

Beatrix Farrand: Landscape Designer
"No life is well-rounded without the subtle inspiration of beauty." Beatrix Farrand was a landscape gardener whose work defined the American taste in gardens throughout the first half of the 20th century. Beatrix Farrand's work represents the very epitome of her craft. As such, she was sought after by the most powerful individuals and institutions of her day. This rarified context should give present-day visitors to the Beatrix Farrand Garden at Bellefield a better sense of the treasure that lies within its fieldstone walls. Bellefield mansion is part of the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites. The Beatrix Farrand Garden Association is dedicated to honoring and sharing the environmental and design legacy of Beatrix Farrand.
Tuesday, March 20, 10-11:30 am, K. Smythe, $15.00

Finding the Lost Dutchman
In 1909, the Kingdom of the Netherlands presented the United States with a replica of Henry Hudson's Half Moon in order to commemorate the 300th anniversary of his voyage to North America. The vessel participated in many events in New York Harbor before being transferred to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. She then spent many years moored in the Popolopen Creek before ending her career ignobly in a park in Cohoes, NY. Hear the tale of this historic ship and David Allen's students' quest to discover the true story of her and other Hudson River relics.
Wednesday, March 21, 1-3 pm, D. Allen, $15.00

Keepers of the Light: Women Lighthouse Keepers of the Hudson River
Learn the roles of female lighthouse keepers and women who grew up in lighthouses on the Hudson River. Special emphasis will be on Catherine Murdock, keeper of the Rondout Lighthouse for more than 50 years.
Tuesday, March 27, 10 am-Noon, S. Wassberg Johnson, $15.00

Landscape as Destiny: The Hudson River School of Art and the Rise of the American Spirit
Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Asher B. Durand, and the school of American art that dominated the 19th century drew as inspiration the Romantic Age themes of awe and wonder in the picturesque American setting and its philosophical ties to transcendentalism in expressing the manifest destiny spirit of the times. Using the images, we will explore how art, history, and progress in the new United States both contributed to these themes and reflected their transformation in an emerging industrial society.
Wednesday, March 28, 1-3 pm, V. Benjamin, $15.00

Coyotes in Our Area
Learn about coyotes in our area and accepting their presence. The Wild Dog Foundation is dedicated to protecting wolves, foxes, coyotes, and other canids, educating the public about the animals and how to live with them in peace. While coyotes may be becoming more comfortable within the county, their behavior is not changing alarmingly; they are just being coyotes. While some find this difficult, amazingly some minute common sense behaviors will go a long way to mitigate conflict. Join the Wild Dog Foundation as it explains in detail dog/coyote interactions that may preclude conflicts directly with the public.
Saturday, April 7, 1-2:30 pm, F. Vincenti, $15.00

Peggy Shippan Arnold
Peggy Shippan Arnold - a woman with multiple parts to her personality as the love interest to a British Spymaster and wife of a famous Revolutionary War Hero turned Revolutionary War Traitor. Learn the story of this colorful lady and her family. A story not often told in history books and a very interesting tale of romance and betrayal.
Monday, April 9, 10 am-Noon, L. DiMartino, $15.00

The Hudson Valley Visit of Aleister Crowley
The famed occultist Aleister Crowley, called “the Wickedest Man in the World," visited the Hudson Valley in the 1910s. Learn about this extraordinary man and his time in our community including sites he visited and the rituals he performed here. The spiritual, literary, and artistic influences in our region resonate today and are truly profound.
Tuesday, April 10, 2-4 pm, N. Rosenblum, $15.00

Nathanael Greene, Washington's "Fighting Quaker"
Nathanael Greene, Washington's "Fighting Quaker," is the story of a volunteer who almost got discharged from his RI militia group for not looking enough like a soldier, but then became the youngest general in the Continental army. Washington's right-hand man, and unofficially chosen to replace Washington should he meet with disaster, Greene's initial job was that of quartermaster general, getting needed food and supplies to the troops. He was a master at it, so good that it prevented him from his real dream: that of an active field commander. It was the military setbacks in the Southern campaign, the loss of both Charleston and Camden, along with the entire Southern Department of fighting men, that got him his dream assignment. Way outclassed and outmanned by the British, he lost or tied every battle in the south, and yet succeeding in bleeding the British forces to the point that Cornwallis decided to take a rest at a place in Virginia called Yorktown. That was all Washington needed, as he and the French then rushed in to put an end to the British plans for control of their prized colony. Thanks to Greene's leadership in the South, the War would soon be over!
Tuesday, April 10, 6:30-8:30 pm, B. Ulrich, $15.00

George Washington's Westchester Gamble
The Westchester localities including Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Hartsdale, Edgemont, and White Plains played highly significant roles in the summer of 1781 when the strategy was adopted which won the Revolutionary War, with indispensable assistance that was given to the United States by France. Washington's great gamble of mid-August 1781 determined the fate of our republic. It is a dramatic story with many twists and turns.
Thursday, April 12, 1-2:30 pm, R. Borkow, $15.00

Fake News: Sorting Truth from Fiction
In today's world of near-ubiquitous connectivity, in which everyday people have almost instantaneous access to unlimited stores of information and the ability to interact with anyone, anywhere, anytime, what does it mean to be an effective citizen? What skills and knowledge do you need to participate fully in a world transformed by technology?
Monday, April 16, 10-11 am, D. Garofalo, $0.00

Iona Island
Iona Island is located in the Hudson River below Bear Mountain. In this program, you will learn from evidence of native Americans on the island through the colonial farms and settlements when it was known as Salisbury Island and later as Weygant's Island. In the late 1800s, it attracted tourists with an amusement park, hotel, and picnic grounds. Iona Island served as a major northeast United States Naval arsenal from 1900 to 1946, complete with explosions, saboteurs, and of course, the famous mothball fleet following WWII. Since 1965, when the Palisades Interstate Park Commission took possession, much of the island and surrounding marshes have become a wildlife preserve. There will be a tour of Iona Island on May 5. Please see our trip section.
Wednesday, April 18, 1-2:30 pm, D. Bayne, $15.00

Eat More Potatoes: Milk Strikes, Food Boycotts, and the Effects of the High Cost of Living in New York During the Great War, 1916-1919
Food historian Sarah Wassberg Johnson discusses the New York Dairymen's League milk strikes in 1916 and 1917, the food boycotts of Jewish women on the Lower East Side, and the connected impacts on food supply, Orange County truck farmers, and the high cost of living during the First World War.
Wednesday, April 18, 6:30-8:30 pm, S. Wassberg Johnson, $15.00

Gone Missing in New York
Each year hundreds of New Yorkers disappear under mysterious circumstances, never to be heard from again. Marianna Boncek will highlight individual stories and focus on missing persons from Sullivan County and nearby. She will also discuss the special problems associated with searching for the missing and tips to keep safe.
Wednesday, April 25, 1-2:30 pm, M. Boncek, $15.00

Heroes of the Holocaust
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank. Two canonized Saints were in the concentration camps of Europe in World War II. We will discuss the lives of Edith Stein and Maxmillian Kolbe and others who inspire us in our work in the world today.
Friday, April 27, 11 am-1 pm, Sr. P. Murphy, $15.00

The Burning of New York
The Burning of New York isbased on actual events from 1741: Lower Manhattan, Broadway, Maiden Lane, and Wall Street were set ablaze in an alleged slave revolt that gripped New Yorkers in fear. After an unprecedented trial, 35 people were ultimately hanged or burned at the stake, while nearly 100 others were banished from the Province of New York. At the center of the controversy was John Hughson’s Bar, which was the only establishment in NYC where blacks, whites, slaves, and free men were allowed to mingle.
Monday, April 30, 11 am -12:30 pm, S. Harps, $15.00

Radio Bikini: The Atomic Bomb Testing
Gene Weinstein will show the one-hour documentary Radio Bikini, produced by Oliver Stone (1987). Rare and archival footage combines "live" radio broadcasts from Bikini Island in 1946 with footage of the entire operation. Mr. Weinstein will give commentary in addition to the film. Following the screening, he will discuss the circumstances through questions and answers.
Monday, May 7, 2-4 pm, G. Weinstein, $15.00

The History of Immigration
Stephanie Hinnershitz is a specialist in American immigration history and has published extensively on the topic. In this lecture, she will begin with a discussion of Emma Lazarus' "The Colossus" and the Statue of Liberty and follow with a comprehensive overview of immigration patterns and immigration policy from the colonial era through the early 2000s.
Wednesday, May 9, 6:30 - 8:00, S. Hinnershitz, $15.00

Quaker History in the Hudson Valley
In 1728, Nathan Birdsall, a surveyor from Danbury, CT, relocated to a hillside just east of the Village of Pawling (then Frederickburg). When he arrived there, he became the first Quaker to settle in Dutchess County. As more and more Quakers also settled on the hilltop (now named Quaker Hill), the Oblong Friends Meeting House was built. During the American Revolution, the building served as a military hospital. Farther west in Millbrook, the Nine Partners Meeting House was built in 1780, and it quickly became one of the most important stops on the underground railroad. These and other meeting houses (overseen by the Religious Society of Friends) in the Hudson Valley each have their own intriguing stories. The Fighting Quakers, two words rarely, if ever, mentioned in the same sentence due to the Quakers' pacifist beliefs, came from a Milton, Ulster County meeting. Made up of two brothers and a cousin, despite their beliefs, they had stronger feelings about ending slavery and all three died in the war, one in the Battle of Gettysburg. Topics such as these and more involving Quakers in the region through the years will be revealed during this presentation.
Thursday, May 10, 10-11:30 am, A. Musso, $15.00

The Social History of Knitting from the Antebellum Period to the 21st Century
History is history. It can be dry. This talk isn’t. Who knit General Washington’s stockings during the Revolutionary War, and why was he so unhappy that he wrote to Martha to complain from the field? Who was knitting in 1853 on the Plantation, what were they knitting, and what materials and tools were they using? How did the ladies of the South compensate for a lack of northern wool during the Civil War? Why were all those New York City police officers knitting in Central Park in the early 20th Century? Can you knit milk? And more!
Tuesday, May 15, 6:30-8 pm, P. Johnson, $15.00

Women Behind the Chador
In this illustrated presentation, you will see scenes of Iranian cities, villages, and women, and see and hear about the ways they use style and flair to challenge legal restrictions on showing their hair and bodies. Paul will discuss how women are perceived in modern Persian literature.
Thursday, May 17, 10-11:30 am, S. and P. Sprachman, $15.00

Fighting for the Same Land - Wappinger Indians and Tenant Rebels
In the 1760s, three competing forces fought for the same lands here in the Hudson Valley: landlords (Beekmans, Philipses), Wappinger Indians, and rioting tenant farmers. Learn about the remarkable Wappinger leader Daniel Nimham, whose defense of his lands included a trip to London to lobby King George III.
Monday, May 21, 1-2:30 pm, J. Merrell, $15.00

Immigrant Ocean Crossing: The Great Age of the Ocean Liners
When we think of immigration, we think of immigrants being inspected at Castle Garden and Ellis Island. A forgotten part of the immigrant story is the ocean crossing and the development of the professional maritime shipping industry in the nineteenth century: Cunard Line, White Star Line, Red Star Line, Holland-America Line, Hamburg-America Line, and so on. Its evolution from the sailing ship to the steamship during the nineteenth century Industrial Revolution and how this affected the story of immigration to America will also be discussed. The program will conclude with the showing of the one-hour documentary film, Floating Palaces.
Wednesday, May 23, 1-3 pm, J. Dosik, $15.00

West Point Foundry
Established in 1817 as a cannon foundry, the West Point Foundry at Cold Spring, in the Hudson Highlands, was one of the first major industrial sites in the United States. The foundry and its many iron products, most significantly artillery and other ordnance, played a central role in the nation’s industrial development.
Wednesday, May 30, 6:30-8:30 pm, M. Forlow, $15.00

Taking to the Air! The Origin of Flight in Birds
A bird flying to and from your bird feeder is as natural as, well, a bird flying! However, birds come from a lineage of dinosaurs that were ground-dwelling. We’ll explore the earliest representatives of the bird lineage and discuss the hypotheses proposed to explain the evolution of flight in birds.
Thursday, May 31, 11 am-Noon, D. Robinson, $0.00

Madam C. J. Walker, One of the First Millionaires of the Hudson Valley
Learn how Madam Walker developed and ran a cosmetic industry for Afro-American women long before the modern era and how she created wealth at a time when women were not recognized as either millionaires or leaders of business in the early part of the 1900s. A truly inspirational story for the modern woman.
Monday, June 4, 10 am-Noon, L. DiMartino, $15.00

Tales of Enchantment/Disenchantment/Re-enchantment
In our youth-obsessed culture, it is not surprising that the tales we know have adolescent protagonists developing their strengths to find their place in the world. These “tales of enchantment” reinforce our American fixation with "happily-ever-after" where the prince is the prize! But....what happens after the royal marriage? This is a question not often asked, but answered by Dr. Allan Chinen, MD through his collections of cross-cultural stories that portray men and women at mid-life and beyond. These tales offer timeless wisdom for surviving and thriving in turbulent times. The tales display the surprising twists and turns of life that occur between the loss of youthful magic and the gaining of elder wisdom. Join us as we explore fairy tales across the lifespan with surprises in store for all!
Tuesday, June 5, 2-4 pm, J. Monk, $15.00

The Sixties and Woodstock, New York
Though the festival that bears its name didn’t happen there, life in the small Catskill town that gave its name to an entire generation mirrored many of the cultural changes that we associate with “the Sixties.” From the music that rolled down its main streets to generational differences in lifestyles and ideas brought forth by an influx of young people, Woodstock, New York fought its own battles when it came to the conflict between old and new values. It was a transition that Woodstock had seen before as young artists once descended on the town in the early half of the twentieth century. Similarly, the Sixties brought new challenges as Woodstock struggled with the transition from a small, rural town to being labeled as the “the most famous small town in America.” Drawing on the events that took place in Woodstock in the 1960s to the personalities – both notable and local - that shaped the decade, this course will explore the change the Sixties had on shaping the town we know today.
Thursday, June 14, 10-11:30 am, R. Heppner, $15.00

The Mona Lisa
The Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1504 is one of the greatest enigmas in history next to the great Pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge. Join Matt in exploring some of the unanswered questions as well as her extensive back story that takes us all over the world! Matt will also accompany the presentation with a demonstration of the techniques.
Friday, June 15, 1-2:30 pm, M. Soltis, $15.00

The Desmond Campus for Adult Enrichment offers non-credit, life-enriching education geared toward the adult learner. Browse our website to learn more about our Community Education, Day Trips, Speaker Series, Road Scholars, and L.I.F.E. programs (for 55+). We offer several easy ways to register for courses. For more information or to request a brochure, email or call 845-565-2076.

Desmond Catalog Spring 2018


Desmond Campus
6 Albany Post Rd, Balmville, NY
Phone: 845-565-2076


Coordinator of Community Ed.
Joan McAdam, 845-569-3561


Snow Line: 845-569-3550