For more than a decade North Branch Nature Center has put people in touch with the sights, sounds and sensations of the wild within our capital. North Branch Nature Center has become an integral part of outdoor recreation and learning in central Vermont, serving 10,000 visitors annually. Our 28-acre preserve of forest and fields is nestled in a gentle bend of the North Branch of the Winooski River, just two miles from downtown Montpelier. North Branch is firefly light sparkling in a child’s eye. It is a lecture hall where we learn the secrets of warblers and willows and weather. And it is a quiet place to walk or ski, swim or sit, or simply to do nothing beside the river.
“In a world that more and more needs nature’s healing and restoration, North Branch Nature Center is a treasure for all Vermonters.”
What We Do
We emphasize nature immersion, practicing outdoor living skills and learning natural history while developing a lasting relationship with the natural world and fostering a sense of place and stewardship. Besides our Forest Preschool and Summer Nature Camps, our other programs include Trekkers for grade 4-8; Robin's Nest, a playgroup for parents, caregivers, and children through age 5; Educating Children Outdoors (ECO), a standards-based nature-immersion program in collaboration with public schools; and ECO Institute for professional educators.
Hands-on citizen science opportunities include monarch butterfly tagging, amphibian rescue and monitoring, and bird banding and counting programs. As an example, in the autumn of 2015, approximately 235 people attended a series of night-time saw-whet owl bandings, contributing much needed data on this little-known migrating bird; 123 owls were banded and their migration patterns are being tracked.
Public Natural History Programs
BirdFest and Caterpillar Day are our two most popular annual inter-generational events, each drawing more than 200 attendees. Mid-winter Friday evenings are enriched by our Naturalist Journeys lecture and slideshow series, with standing-room-only crowds learning from experts about topics ranging from shark conservation to polar exploration. We also lead birding trips around Vermont and beyond, including to Texas, New Jersey, Maine, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
See North Branch Nature Center
NBNC Growth Trend
In the past five years community support in the form of annual donations to North Branch Nature Center has doubled. This has enabled us to expand our programming to reach a much broader audience in and beyond Central Vermont, offering more opportunities for people of all ages to connect with nature. Through careful management and planning, we have kept expenses in line as we added staff to provide these services. We are proud that our community’s ongoing support has compelled us to undertake a capital campaign to build a new community center. It is testament to the degree to which NBNC has been recognized as a vital resource of the community.