NorthWoods was founded in 1989 as the Vermont Leadership Center by William C. Manning, formerly President of Sterling College. The Center’s earliest programs involved consulting with local communities on town planning, working with the Northern Forest Lands Council to guide regional conservation efforts, and presenting educational and forestry-based workshops for the Brighton-Charleston area.
During the early 90’s, an ongoing youth leadership program was created for seventh and eighth grade students from a local community, and this provided the basis for participation by an ever-increasing number of area schools in environmental education and leadership programs over the next few years.
In 1995, the Center applied for and was granted non-profit 501(c)3 status, and during that same year, a youth conservation service program was initiated. Land management and research programs were added in 1996. By the following decade, the scope of the Center’s programs had grown to encompass all of Vermont as well as New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and parts of New York.
In 2004, the organization’s name was changed to NorthWoods Stewardship Center in order to reflect the region-wide impact the organization now had through its programs. At the same time, NorthWoods purchased the facilities and surrounding property from Manning, who still volunteers his time and adjacent land for the use of our programs.
In 2009, longtime board member and generous supporter Lydia Spitzer donated 1350 acres of forestland and wetland adjacent to the Center’s original property. NorthWoods’ 1500 acres are managed for sustainable timber production, experimental silviculture research, and habitat preservation, and the Vermont Land Trust holds conservation easements over nearly all of the organization’s land.