Our Future in Nature

“Who is to make sure that our children’s sense of wonder grows indestructible with the years? We are. You and I. Because we believe that the North Branch Nature Center can play a vital part in our children’s lives and, if we are wise, in our own lives as well.”

—Katherine Paterson, award-winning author

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Our Progress So Far

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Watch us Grow

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Since the grand opening of the new community facility at North Branch Nature Center in October, 2018, our wonderful new space has dramatically increased both the scope and the capacity of our programming. Our new spaces have afforded us opportunities that just weren’t physically possible prior to the campaign.

With the funds raised to date, we’ve been able to accomplish the following:

  • The Maxham Room is a beautiful and highly functional space, with room for 100 people, and now used for a wide variety of NBNC programs. We also rent out the new space to numerous organizations and individuals for everything from public programs to board retreats, to small conferences and more.
  • Visitors are now greeted in the new Rock Creek Room welcome area, where you can engage with our natural history collection, watch birds in the bird-friendly garden and learn about our trails and ecosystem.
  • A beautiful timber frame porch offers a great place to take a break and enjoy the view of the gardens, meadow and ridgeline to the east.
  • Our full-time, licensed Forest Preschool now has its own building with a warm and welcoming classroom, running water and an engaging nature playscape.
  • New accessible pathways, outdoor lighting and a pollinator garden are some of the recent improvements to our grounds. As you first arrive at the nature center, you’ll see solar panels that now provide much of our electricity.
  • Although there is more work to do, completed improvements to the farmhouse include a new roof, a renovated bathroom, a new storage area and a new heating and cooling system.

The Growth of Our Programs

Simultaneous with the completion of our new addition, NBNC hired a full-time naturalist. Thanks to a three-year grant from the Canaday Family Charitable Trust, we have greatly expanded our capacity to develop and present new public programs and citizen science offerings here at NBNC. Here are just a few examples of our recent expansions:

  • We partnered with the City of Montpelier to co-host the Montpelier BioBlitz 2018, the city's largest ever gathering of biologists, families, and residents in a weekend-long celebration of nature. Biologists working out of our pop-up laboratory documented over 1,500 species within Montpelier's borders. Meanwhile, participants enjoyed a menu of over 50 field walks, presentations, exhibits, games, live music, and other opportunities to connect with nature. Part citizen science and part nature festival, the Montpelier BioBlitz was the premier eco-event of 2018 in Vermont.
  • We expanded and diversified our public natural history programming to engage a broader cross-section of Vermonters in the natural world. The 2018 calendar included programs on wildlife tracking, nature photography, botanical illustration, wild edibles, history on the land, and much more. To cater to those looking for more advanced learning opportunities, we launched Biodiversity University, a series of workshops and mini-courses for expanding the naturalist skill set.
  • To highlight the beautiful photographs which have graced our new walls, we joined Montpelier’s ArtWalk in February. In a well-attended evening gathering, photographers Wayne Fawbush and Bryan Pfeiffer shared their unique approaches to photographing nature. In April, Bryan returned to the stage with Scudder Parker, Ruth Einstein and D. Davis to present words, birds and notes, an evening of poetry, natural history reflections and lively music. This, our first time participating in Montpelier’s PoemCity, proved immensely popular.
  • To embrace early spring’s amphibian season, we hosted a book launch for Middlesex author Katy Farber’s children’s book Salamander Sky, at which 100 people packed the room to learn about amphibians.  Meanwhile our increased staff capacity allowed us to greatly expand our Amphibian Road Crossing Program, and we also partnered with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies to sponsor a training on monitoring vernal pools.

What Your Gift Will Build

In the midst of this blossoming of programs, we’ve been busy planning for the final phase of our capital campaign. Once we complete fundraising, planned improvements include:

  • Weatherizing and re-siding the farmhouse. The existing vinyl siding has got to go! We will simultaneously upgrade the building envelope to enable achievement of our goal of becoming a net-zero campus.
  • Renovation of the farmhouse interior. This includes a long-overdue renovation of the kitchen (to better serve our many events and rentals), and the creation of another teaching/meeting space and library for smaller indoor programs and gatherings.
  • Improvements to our trails and grounds. Plans are underway to make NBNC’s trails more accessible and to add important visitor amenities including bike racks and picnic tables.

“Who is to make sure that our children’s sense of wonder grows indestructible with the years? We are. You and I. Because we believe that the North Branch Nature Center can play a vital part in our children’s lives and, if we are wise, in our own lives as well.”

—Katherine Paterson, award-winning author
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For 24 years North Branch Nature Center has been connecting people of all ages with the natural world, here on our 28-acre preserve, in partnership with area public schools, and by leading programs around Vermont and beyond.  Learn more about our staff and programs.

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We have a passionate, experienced staff, a fabulous site, and an inspired vision for the future of learning outdoors in central Vermont, but our buildings need renovation and expansion in order to meet the community’s demand for our programs. Check out the plans!

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To support our mission and vision, we launched Our Future in Nature capital campaign in 2014; to date we have raised $1,268,326. To reach our goal of $1.6 million, we need you. Here's how to get involved!

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206
[email protected]

Office Open Monday-Friday from 9 am to 4 pm
Trails Open 24/7