The Vermont Institute for Natural Science’s mission is to motivate individuals and communities to care for the environment through education, research and avian wildlife rehabilitation. Since 1972, we are leaders in environmental education, our primary mission. VINS delivers locally relevant environmental education programs, combining environmental science concepts with hands-on exploration to build empathy and empower individuals to care for local ecosystems. We are supported by private donations, grants, education programs, membership and admission fees.
VINS Nature Center
The VINS Nature Center campus serves as the center of VINS' organizational operations, a resource for Vermont and Upper Valley residents, and a destination for tourists to the region. The 47-acre campus, in Quechee, features our newly opened VINS Forest Canopy Walk and outdoor classroom, interpretive nature (ADA) trails, four exhibit spaces, adventure playscape, two indoor classrooms and 17 state-of-the-art raptor enclosures. The number of visitors to the Nature Center reached 47,190 last fiscal year, a 24% increase over the previous fiscal year. When combined with Outreach Programs, including 126 Field Trips, VINS engaged with nearly 67,000 adults and children.
VINS School Programs enhance STEM, science inquiry and placed based education in schools through embedded teacher professional development and direct student instruction. Currently, we are partnering with 34 schools throughout the Vermont and Upper Valley area, delivering 342 lessons, and reaching 1,041 students and 122 teachers this year. With area schools closed, VINS is delivering a variety of Stem lessons directly to teachers for use in their remote teaching efforts; a continuing series of video lessons oriented to Stem-related topics; videos featuring raptors; and, virtual field trips.
VINS focuses on three main program areas:
- Environmental Education – VINS employs an inclusive, whole-community approach to environmental education, delivering an array of innovative, current, science-based educational programs. Our Educators’ lessons have become an integral part of environmental learning in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire and beyond. VINS’ Outreach Programs reached more than 18,569 learners in VINS fiscal year 2020, at venues including schools, libraries, community centers, festivals and resorts. Each year, our team of educators and interns present topics about raptors, reptiles, other animals, habitats and local ecosystems, with a continued focus on environmental stewardship. During the summer months, VINS offers a series of weeklong, on-campus and offsite Nature Camps from pre K through grade eight, reaching 530 campers last year in Summer 2019. Throughout the year, VINS also offers Adult Education programs that provide in-depth insight into environmental issues, natural processes and species investigations.
- Avian Wildlife Rehabilitation – Since 1978, the Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation (CWBR), the largest facility in the State of Vermont for the rehabilitation and long-term care of injured wild birds – particularly songbirds and raptors; 2019 was a record year with 705 birds admitted. This program is imperative for the support of species due to the study of the 3 Billion Bird crisis.
- Center for Environmental Research – VINS supports a citizen science program, supporting projects that provide for greater understanding of science and nature and careful stewardship of New England ecosystems.