Serving as an Americorps Education Volunteer in 2007, I was so inspired by Northwoods Stewardship Center. As a child, I had went to an outreach paddle when it was the Vermont Leadership Center. It made me want to get back and explore the Northeast Kingdom. The staff, board, and community are so invested in their landscape and lifestyle. In an area so rural, I was so happy to be surrounded by a community of people that are passionate learners and educators always trying to do their best and improve upon what they do, while keeping it creative and relative.
We encountered the NorthWoods Stewardship Center through a tourist publication and then found out about a book written by Luke O'Brien, who is the Trail Manager. The book introduced us to many detailed descriptions of hiking trails in the NorthEast Kingdom of Vermont. It made a huge difference to have this level of detail, and greatly enhanced our hiking experiences. We also learned about a Peak Challenge, and one summer completed it with the help and support of NorthWoods staff members. It turned out that we were the first to have completed it and as Canadians, we were quite proud of that. Last spring we met some young people who were staying at the NorthWoods Stewardship Center and they were canoeing up to Canada. Having met them there, we were able to make arrangements to meet them again in Canada. This is to say that NorthWoods is a meeting place and resource center for people who care about the environment and who seek to experience it in profound ways. We have also attended some educational event s at the center, and these also have enhanced our appreciation of the natural environment. The staff have always been extremely helpful to us, and have greatly enhanced our trips to Vermont. We have found a home away from home at the Center, and have told many of our friends about the wonderful work that is done there. We are glad to know that they have a presence in local schools, and enable local young people to learn about the natural world that surrounds them. We met a young boy on one of our canoe trips and he told us that he learned to canoe at NorthWoods: a great endorsement!
I accepted the invitation to this board because of the uniformly excellent reputation they have among all my environmentally oriented friends. They have a 25-year history of serving well the land use needs of a great many north woods communities through projects and education.
Northwoods Stewardship Center offers opportunities to the general public at minimal to no cost. We have used their cross-country ski trails, learned about different animal pelts with the lodge itself, enjoy the local musicians who have performed and taken several classes there such as the solar energy classes. The best things I feel they provide are programs to the youths in the area to experience nature in a respectful way while enjoying all of its beauty. Our youngest son went on the weeklong canoeing trip while I older son enjoyed the youth camping trip. This summer our oldest son worked on the Conservation Back Country Crew and describes it as an awesome experience. They worked the trails during the day and camp on them at night. Though it rain most of the time, he enjoy it immensely. It is a true asset to the community offering families the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and learn new things.
I am proud to be an Americorps volunteer here at NorthWoods. The landscape as well as the people are beautiful. The outreach programs, such as live music, full moon paddles, and hikes, are always super fun. The work that gets done by the trail crews is amazing (Especially the new cabin on Bald Mountain, open to the public for free!) The summer camps are top notch. I just love everything here.
Our connection with Northwoods goes way back. Every winter we use their beautiful trails for cross country skiing. Always a wonderful way to get outdoors on a beautiful day when our kids were learning to ski. Now we go with kids and grandkids. During the summer, we are there weekly for yoga classes. Northwoods provides a wonderful spacious area for our class--really a perfect setting as we look out on magnificent views of the pond and mountains beyond. Our grandson has enjoyed summer camp experiences at Northwoods which teach nature study/appreciation. Our daughter and son-in-law have had foster children. One, in particular, a city kid, went on a camping/canoe trip. It was a truly wonderful experience for her. Something she couldn't imagine doing beforehand. She made friends with fellow campers. The canoe trip gave her a real sense of accomplishment. My husband has taken the course in "The Game of Logging". The skills and knowledge not only has made him a better woodsman, but probably has saved his life. On the light side, we have enjoyed many evenings of musical entertainment at coffee houses which Northwoods provides to the community.
This organization serves the people of Northern Vermont in several ways:
1. The Land Management team helps home owners by providing planning and site management of forest lots that need logging or conservation. They perform this function for me, and are a real time- and money-saver.
2. The Conservation Corps team hires teenagers (ages 15 through 18) from the area, trains them to do forest conservation work and environmental conservation, and deploys teams of youth workers throughout New England.
3. The Education team provides summer camp education in the environment to children.
I have experienced all three aspects of these teams through work they have done for me, and education they have provided for my grandchildren.
I have hired crews from Northwoods to help with invasion plant eradication and have been very pleased with their hard work, enthusiasm, and conscientiousness. We accomplished more than I had set out to do.
NorthWoods Stewardship Center (NSC) fulfills many needs in this underserved area of Northeastern VT. The Conservation Corps not only provides jobs for local kids in the area, but teaches leadership, responsibility and a positive work ethic. In addition, there are a great variety of educational programs offered as well as the work of the Forest Stewardship Center. In a world where "connection" usually means to an electronic device, the NorthWoods experience provides a deeper more meaningful connection to nature and each other.
We were introduced to the original Leadership Center when our son's participated in hands-on learning opportunities with their primary schools...and being fans of Outward Bound and other such programs ourselves, we were very excited for them to experience similar outdoor experiences with such a wonderful program staff and setting here in the NEK...as our sons grew older, two of them were able to participate for several summers in the Kingdom Corp work experience and we believe this was life changing for both of them: climbing up local mountains daily carrying heavy hand tools to maintain and build trails, learning how to cooperate with and understand the variety of fellow group members, overnight camping out, preparing and presenting a conservation project at the end of the summer...it was awesome seeing our young sons develop their own self confidence and also appreciation for others and become aware of nature and their role in protecting it. Still today when we hike our area mountain trails our sons will point out "we built that" as we pass a still sturdy wooden or rock bridge, etc...
We can't say enough about what a GREAT role North Woods Stewardship Center plays in the NEK of VT!!