EAST CHARLESTON — The NorthWoods Stewardship Center in East Charleston recently celebrated 30 years of environmental conservation, education, and stewardship in the communities of northern New England.
Over 150 community members attended the event, which included a free community dinner, live music by Celtic ensemble “The Wind that Shakes the Barley,” and a silent auction featuring items donated by local artisans and businesses.
Executive Director Jonathan Gilbert welcomed guests to the celebration and highlighted the premiere of a short video recognizing the three-decade history of NorthWoods, from its founding in 1989, to its current programs in forestry and landowner services, conservation science, outdoor environmental education, and the New England-wide youth Conservation Corps.
Sterling College faculty member Farley Brown reminisced with NorthWoods founder and past president of Sterling College, Bill Manning, upon the Center’s beginnings building upon an experiential model of environmental education to serve local youth and communities in the region.
Guest speaker Steve Agius, manager of the Nulhegan Basin Division of the Silvio O. Conte U.S. Fish & Wildlife Refuge in Brunswick, spoke about the NorthWoods Conservation Corps which employs youth in trail and conservation work at state and federal lands throughout the region, and the importance the program has to the refuge system throughout the northeast.
“The conservation work being done on these regional refuges, from the coast of Maine to Long Island Sound, would not be possible without NorthWoods and their trustworthy teams of well trained and hardworking youth crews,” said Agius.
Luke O’Brien, previously the NorthWoods Trails Director, reflected upon the important and diverse experiences and relationships he built in his nearly 20 years at the Center, and upon the ongoing value of NorthWoods programs in being able to provide young adults with a connection to the land and boost in self-confidence at an influential time in their lives.
The impact of NorthWoods over the years was echoed by Gilbert as he spoke about the Center’s current and future work in the community and shared plans for the building of a new Conservation Barn to serve as a base of operations for expanding Conservation Corps and Forestry crews in years to come.