The NorthWoods Stewardship Center in East Charleston, VT provides education, outdoor recreation, research, and conservation programs that connect people and nature. It was founded in 1989 as a small environmental education and youth leadership program and became a non-profit organization in 1995. NorthWoods’ conservation service learning program provides summer employment for over 100 young people, ages 14-20. And last year, more than 3,000 adults and children enrolled in NorthWoods’ camps, school programs, and educational workshops. On its 1,500 acres of land, NorthWoods conducts research to identify sustainable land use, forestry, recreation, energy production, and conservation practices to facilitate better stewardship of the region. Many of their projects often involve collaborations with non-profit, state, and federal project partners.
NorthWoods was in the process of re-structuring its operations in early 2009, and needed to pay down debt on an existing line of credit with the local bank. “It was a critical time and other sources of funding weren’t available. We called on NCIC and they came through for us,” said Operations Director Jayson Benoit. NCIC partnered with the Vermont Community Loan Fund to assume the line of credit. “Dave Keenan (NCIC Business Resource Manager) and the entire NCIC team are professional and easy to work with. They focus on finding solutions and are open to working with other entities and our bank – not everyone would do that,” said Jayson.
In 2011, NCIC increased NorthWoods’ line of credit to accommodate seasonal cash flow demands. “In the summer, our payroll quadruples to staff our Conservation Corps program and we don’t get reimbursed until after the program is over. We really depend on our line of credit to maintain our operations during this period,” said Jayson.
“NorthWoods is a valuable community resource, so it feels good to provide a service that will help them pay the expenses and labor to keep their programs going,” said NCIC’s Dave Keenan.
“There’s a great synergy that we have with NCIC that extends beyond a business relationship. For example, Dave works with a local youth wrestling team with one of our staff members,” said Jayson. “We appreciate that NCIC is community-minded, just like us.”
To learn more about the Northwoods Stewardship Center, visit their website.