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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Environment, Historical Organizations, Land Resources Conservation

Mission: The Walden Woods Project was founded in 1990 to protect land of ecological and historic significance surrounding Walden Pond. At that time nearly half of the Walden Woods' 2,680 acres remained unprotected from development. Two large tracts of land (a total of 43 acres) were under immediate threat as developers sought to construct an office park and a large condominium complex in close proximity to Walden Pond. In January 1991, the Walden Woods Project raised enough money to buy the 25-acre Bear Garden Hill site. A few years later, the Project acquired a second parcel, known as Brister?s Hill. In 1998, the Walden Woods Project opened The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods containing over 8,000 volumes and 60,000 items of Thoreau-related materials and launched its two trademark teacher education programs, Approaching Walden and Finding Walden.

Programs: Conservation:the walden woods project preserves and protects walden woods and thoreau country in recognition of their worldwide literary, historical, and environmental significance and their capacity to motivate others to identify, study, and protect the environment and historically significant areas that exist in their own communities. In 2014, the project purchased two houses and appurtenant structures on three acres of land that completes our acquisition of the farm at walden woods. The land and structures will provide increased capacity for our organic farming operation, new meeting and program space, facilities for farm staff, housing for program participants and maintenance facilities for farm operations. Land management:the walden woods project manages conservation restrictions on 61 acres of land, which prevents development of sites not owned in fee. Annual conservation restriction monitoring is done to ensure that the protections prescribed in the conservation restrictions are in effect. Invasive exotic plants are a major threat to the ecological integrity of our land. The project actively manages our properties to reduce the prevalence of invasive plants and to minimize the threat they represent. The project's programs support ongoing collaboration between a wide variety of civic and environmental groups who regularly provide volunteer invasive species management to our organization.

education:the education programs of the walden woods project serve an audience that includes students, educators, and life-long learners from around the globe. Our signature programs include our guided tours for groups visiting walden woods and the pond; the live deliberately essay contest for youth ages 13-21 from around the world; a week-long summer professional development program for teachers, approaching walden, and other professional development workshops throughout the year; vernal pool workshops; skype in the classroom sessions; the stewardship lecture series; and world wide waldens, an on-line community of youth working to conserve places in their own communities. All of our programs are inspired by the writings and philosophies of henry david thoreau and ask people to explore their own sense of place-their connection to their own community and other places in the world-and to develop an environmental ethic. As thoreau himself is a highly interdisciplinary subject, we address the topics of transcendentalism, social reform, writing, natural history and 19-century history in our programs, as well. In the 2014/15 academic year, we hosted over 600 students (plus nearly 100 teachers/coordinators with them) in our guided tours of the walden woods area (including the pond). We also host groups in our library at the thoreau institute at walden woods, which maintains the world's largest collection of thoreau-related documents, books, and artifacts, and serve approximately 1,000 students each year through our skype in the classroom program (for those who are too far away to visit the woods). Our approaching walden summer professional development program brings in 25 educators from across the country each year for an intensive, immersive study in thoreau's words and place. There is a competitive process to attend this program that receives high acclaim each year from its participants, with the 2014 feedback being no exception. Participants have the option of completing additional readings and assignments to receive 3 graduate-level credits for the course through fitchburg state university. Our 2014 stewardship lectures series included the following presentations: "walden's shore: henry david thoreau and nineteenth century science," with author of the book of the same title, robert m. Thorson; "who's watching you? : owls of the world," a presentation for all ages with live owls conducted by mark and marcia wilson of eyes on owls; "the transformation of american community," with mark dunkelman, author of the vanishing neighbor (this event was a festival forum as part of the concord festival of authors).

research and library:the thoreau institute library/archives, is owned and managed by the walden woods project and is located in walden woods. The library houses the most complete research collection by and about henry david thoreau, as well as other collections by american writers, including ralph waldo emerson. Staffed by a full time curator, the library is the premiere resource on a global basis for thoreau research and scholarship. Each year the institute welcomes a steady stream of interns interested in pursuing a career in library science, as well as volunteers with an interest in the history and literature of thoreau's time. Every year brings new people to the thoreau institute library, whether in-person or virtually. In 2014, we hosted visitors from canada, europe and asia. Translators from china, czechoslovakia, and iran have worked with the curator to provide accurate and representative translations. "skype in the classroom" sessions bring our curator into classrooms around the country via skype, reaching more than 1,000 students in 2014. We continue to publish many works electronically and update finding aids to our collections. In 2104 we acquired the kevin macdonnell collection, adding rare and unique items to our library.

Community Stories

48 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a proud member of the Walden Woods Project for over 26 years now. I believe it is a very important charity for many reasons. It is helping to keep the work of Henry David Thoreau alive not only in America but across the world. It is teaching children the importance of conservation and recycling, to help keep this planet in good shape, and it protects the beautiful land that the likes of Thoreau, Emerson, and the Alcott's walked long before we did from people who want to develop over that historic land. To top it off I also know that it's founder Mr. Don Henley lives what he preaches.This is why I wholeheartedly believe that this non-for profit deserves to be awarded Best Non-For-Profit.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The preservation and education that occurs at the Walden Woods Project honors, and shares, Thoreau's legacy and the interconnectedness of 19th century Concord and surrounding area with today's world. While some forget that Thoreau was an author, many recall that he was deeply connected to his environment and left lessons about appreciating the natural world around us. The Walden Woods Project reminds visitors, including educators and students, that there was and is more to Thoreau than "Walden," although many writings relate closely to his most famous work and the wooded lot where he lived for two years, two months, and two days.

Anne143

Donor

Rating: 5

All of my interactions with the Walden Woods Project have convinced me of their loving commitment to the conscientious management of Walden Pond and the surrounding woods, and their respect for the people who benefit from preservation of the area. They have an impressive library that can accommodate both casual and serious study. Their staff is gracious and highly knowledgeable. I attended a week-long institute for teachers at their headquarters and found the experience to be quite valuable and, in some respects, life-changing. In their education programs, they promote the idea that we should all have "a sense of place" in our environment, which helps us to realize better our unique perspective and contribution to the world and also to become better stewards of our earthly home. Can you tell I love the Walden Woods Project? Get to know them, and you will, too!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Walden Woods Project is a great nonprofit that enriched my life and taught me so much about Concord and Henry David Thoreau. The area is so rich with history and life and I was very impressed by their knowledge and expertise. I hope to visit again soon!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Excellent discussions, ideas to take to the classroom, and rich historical discussions. Fabulous experience for anyone wishing to implement place-based learning curriculum.

1 Robert G. M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization is beneficial for the mind and soul! A team of passionate, dedicated scholars preserves the work and legacy of Henry David Thoreau, his town, and his contemporaries. The library and archives echo with the voices of Henry and those who he lived and worked with in Concord; the paths of Henry's woods contain stone placards of his words--walk in his footsteps, hear his voice, consequently, hear your own voice, too. Take the time to research all they have to offer and visit The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods. It is truly transcendental.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

They offer exceptionally well-organized educational programs! They are making a significant impact on people and place with their efforts to educate about Thoreau's legacy. Wonderful staff, too!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

By far the best professional development I've ever experienced... A week in the woods with like-minded educators learning from each other and from the environment itself. The entire team is so passionate about what they do, and they graciously share both their time and their expertise with us. They have touched so many important people along the way. Thank you so much!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

An amazing organization and place to learn more about Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau, and the Transcendentalists

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I spent a wonderful week as part of the Approaching Walden teacher program. The Walden Woods Project included gracious hosts as well as informative instructors. This was an experience that will remain with me and will extend into my classroom as we read Walden and study Thoreau. I highly recommend this program to other teachers and commend this organization on a job well done. Thank you for an inspiring week!