Hands-to-Work

Hands-to-Work is Darrow's service learning program, rooted in our Shaker past. 
It’s a program that highlights purposeful work, leadership through service, and the rewards of a cooperative effort to sustain and improve the Darrow community. 

Hands-to-Work in action


Every Wednesday, some 20 Hands-to-Work crews of students alongside faculty and staff undertake a variety of tasks. 

For example, the Garden Crew might harvest vegetables for the Darrow kitchen, while the Samson Environmental Center (SEC) crew will clean and maintain the saltwater fish tank and other elements of the Living Machine. The Sugaring Crew might tap maple trees for syrup-making or the Recycling Crew will help in our sustainability efforts. 


Some Hands-to-Work crews provide valuable services to the greater community, such as mentoring children at a nearby school and caring for animals at the Berkshire Humane Society. 

Changing jobs and learning new skills


Throughout the course of the year, students rotate through multiple crews, discovering new interests and new skills. 

Through Hands-to-Work, students take pride in the practical knowledge they develop and feel gratified by the visible results of their efforts. They know they are making life at Darrow something that is shared. Our alumni consistently tell us how Hands-to-Work became one of the signature aspects of what Darrow means to them. It’s not a job but a community endeavor and many student find a passion they never knew. 

Our video takes you into the Hands-to-Work program.

Hands-to-Work Crews Include:

Berkshire Humane Society. Learn to care for animals at the shelter.  

Darrow Dining Services. Students learn about food service from basic sanitation/safety to nutrition, meal planning, ordering and management.  

Head Start. Darrow students help mentor young people in a program that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.

Kitchen. One reason Wednesday is commonly referred to as "the best day of the week" is the creative, artisanal lunches. Under the guidance of our dining professionals who make this their daily craft, the Kitchen Crew makes nutritious, healthy meals that wow us each week. When available, our ingredients are locally sourced from a bio-dynamic CSA farm on our campus.

Livestock Experience. This crew goes to Hancock Shaker Village to assist at every level of a dynamic livestock operation.

Maple Sugaring. Student learn to identify, care for, and reap the benefits from the sugar maples on campus, and repair and prepare sap lines and the Sugar House for the season.

Performing Arts. The group prepares upcoming shows and breaks down previous sets, lights, equipment, etc. for performing arts productions and events.

Sports. Students maintain the sports fields, the gym, and every accessory that comes with it. They maintain and prepare uniforms for competing teams.

Trails. This crew maintains Darrow's network of idyllic forest trails for our Cross-Country Team, mountain bikers, and for those of us who love a quiet nature walk. Occasionally, new trails are created and blazed.

Wood Chopping. Firewood for heating fuel and for maple sugaring is key to our lifestyle. Those who saw, split and stack receive an extra dose of gratitude.