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Northern Forest Institute

Mission, Vision and Audience

The mission of the Northern Forest Institute for Conservation Education and Leadership Training (NFI) is to advance the knowledge and skills and to promote the leadership necessary for the stewardship of both the natural and designed environments in the Adirondacks and the Northern Forest.

Our vision is that NFI's efforts will positively impact conservation and environmental literacy and increase the quality and impact of informal science education in the Adirondacks and Northern Forest region.

NFI focuses on three primary audiences:

  • Professional (resource managers, elected officials, formal and informal community leaders)
  • Academic (students Pre-K-12 in public and private schools; collegiate programs at all levels)
  • General public (across a broad range of age and subject areas)

NFI and ESF's Newcomb Campus

The Newcomb Campus is a satellite campus of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) based in Syracuse, New York. Situated on the 15,000 acre Huntington Wildlife Forest property in the heart of the Adirondacks, the Newcomb Campus is home to the Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC), the Northern Forest Institute (NFI) and the Adirondack Interpretive Center.

The AEC is responsible for extensive ongoing research on the property. Centered in a building of the same name, the AEC supports year-round staff that studies everything from the populations of songbirds to the impacts of climate change on an Adirondack ecosystem.

NFI is the campus's outreach program for public, school and professional audiences. By providing educational programs and professional trainings, NFI hopes to improve environmental literacy as well as better inform decision-makers that play a key role in the management of the area's natural resources.

Beginning January 2011, NFI has full responsibility in the operation and management of the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC). Previously named the Visitors Interpretive Center under the management of the Adirondack Park Agency, the AIC is year-round public facility with interpretive exhibits and trail system. NFI hosts various forms of informal science education at the AIC including public programs and events, interpretive exhibits and displays, environmental education for academic groups, and professional workshops, conferences and trainings.

Bringing Science to the Masses

Many of our educational and training efforts have natural history, research and/or scientific elements and it is this content that policy-makers, resource managers and citizens can use to make decisions that are beneficial not only for themselves and society, but also the environment.

As an outreach organization based on a 15,000 acre research property with almost 50 ongoing research projects and long-term monitoring that dates back to the 1930s, NFI is provided with a unique and exciting opportunity to highlight AEC’s research in our programs, trainings, publications and exhibits. Not only does this inform audiences about the important and intriguing work done on the property, but also allows them to better their relationship and knowledge of the natural world. By showcasing the work of AEC researchers, NFI also hopes to inspire students and other participants to pursue education and careers in the STEM fields.

We're Not Just Science

We recognize the importance of nature-based programming for all ages, but also recognize that nature education goes far beyond the field of science and can include subjects such as art, writing, reading, math, history and technology.

NFI strives to produce and provide unique, meaningful and multidisciplinary leadership trainings and educational opportunities for public, school and professional audiences. Our efforts (past, present and future) include:

  • Artist in Residence program - During the summer of 2014, the AIC hosted its first Artist-in-Residence, Frances Gaffney. During her time at the AIC, she not only created her own artwork series, but also interacted with the public through workshops and demonstrations.
  • Got Game? - This winter program series connects sportsmen and women in the Adirondacks, providing an opportunity for them to swap stories, trade tips, and spend time together with great food and drink.
  • Guideboat Programs - Using our fleet of authentic Adirondack guideboats, staff can provide guests with a first-hand, water-based exploration of a variety of topics including local and regional cultural history, the technology and design of watercraft.

A perfect example of our interdisciplinary work is NFI's Environmental Philosophy program. Working to bridge science with the humanities, this important work provides NFI's three target audiences with workshops, lessons and discussions on topics including applied ethics and environmental justice.