Watch Us Grow

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Check Out the Plans!

“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

Why Expand?

North Branch Nature Center offers experiences rooted in nature and grounded in community, helping make nature a way of life for countless people. Our staff and members share a vision to bring nature’s unforgettable experiences and enduring benefits to even more people, for generations to come. 

But our buildings are holding us back. The forest and fields serve as our classroom, yes, but we also need indoor spaces to support our programming. Currently the sheep barn is our only indoor teaching space — insufficient for all but the smallest of our programs, un-plumbed, and minimally heated. The barn will be fully renovated and expanded to become a rich learning environment for our preschool and other programs.

Meanwhile, we will be building a large addition to contain both a welcome center and a large, flexible multi-purpose room. The multi-purpose room will be used as an additional teaching space, for large lectures and workshops, special events, and periodic exhibits, all of which will allow us to offer more programs concurrently. The farmhouse renovation will include the expansion of our current meeting room (allowing this space to become a third teaching space for small groups), and the renovation of our kitchen so that it can be used for events. 

What Your Gift Will Build

We currently offer as many programs for preschoolers through adults as our facility can handle, but we have outgrown our buildings.  Working alongside professionals at Black River Design and LandWorks, we have developed a fantastic plan to improve our facility, both indoors and outside.

Our campaign goal of $1.5 million will cover everything from property acquisition to building costs to landscaping. Since the summer of 2014, when we began the quiet phase of our campaign, we have received gifts and pledges totaling $1 million.  If we receive our permits in time, we plan to break ground this Fall. 


Our renovation and expansion plans will create an accessible, comfortable, and ecologically responsible space for year-round activities: 

  • A dedicated space for our Forest Preschool (which currently serves 30 students and will allow us to pursue licensure and thus better meet local demand)
  • A public lecture hall, resource library and exhibit space to accommodate up to 100 people (for workshops, lectures, visiting exhibits, and rentals)
  • A productive workspace for staff and volunteers (most currently work two and three to a bedroom in the unheated second floor of the farmhouse)

We also have outdoor improvements planned to create better learning spaces:


  • A nature playscape (for use by young visitors and program attendees)
  • A bird-banding station (to support and expand our citizen science and natural history offerings)
  • A model “healthy backyard” with greatly expanded pollinator and teaching gardens (to teach and inspire visitors interested in improving their home’s ecological footprint)