Baltimore Woods: Walking a Path of Longevity

The weather is warming and many with spring fever are looking to get out on the trails, such as those at Baltimore Woods Nature Center, a 182-acre nature preserve in Marcellus that offers several on-site nature day camps and public programs.

Almost 20 years ago, Baltimore Woods established an agency fund at the Community Foundation to implement a long-term funding stream that would strengthen the organization’s offerings in the future. The agency fund started with a single gift from a special donor. Since 2001, all dollars from life memberships to Baltimore Woods have been added to the fund, and over the years, additional amounts have been added.

“The income from the agency fund helps us bridge a gap in revenue,” said Whitney Lash-Marshall, Baltimore Woods’ executive director. “That initial funding would lead to support for our programming, both on an annual basis and into the future as well.”

Baltimore Woods Nature Center is a nonprofit organization committed to fostering environmental stewardship of our natural world by offering immersive programs and a place in Central New York for everyone to cultivate appreciation for and personal connections to nature through environmental education, recreation, play and research.

Nearing its 20-year mark, Baltimore Woods’ agency fund has grown, allowing the nature center to expand its staff, programs and the audience it serves. Nature in the City and an eight-week summer camp are undoubtedly the organization’s most popular programs. Nature in the City serves all 19 Syracuse City elementary schools. Baltimore Woods reaches more than 10,000 kindergarten through 6th grade students every year with programming that runs concurrent with science lessons being taught in their classrooms.

“We are trying to not only reach these children,” said Lash-Marshall, “but also get them outside to connect to nature and learn about science in their own community.”

The summer camp program, according to Lash-Marshall, is geared toward learning about the environment onsite. More than 600 children from around the county enter Baltimore Woods’ gate each summer to experience the endless opportunities Mother Nature has to offer.

“Both of those programs were developed based on the premise that kids are not getting as much time outside to have fun, explore and be kids,” said Lash-Marshall. “We try to build within them a sense of pride and stewardship in where they live. That’s really when you see those magical moments – their eyes are wide open and they suddenly realize that they can do science in their backyard.”

The Community Foundation has been a reliable partner and trusted conduit when it comes to the organization’s agency fund, according to Gary Germain, treasurer of Baltimore Woods’ Board of Directors. He says the guidance they have received over the years has been instrumental, especially when it has come down to fiscal decisions.

“One of the things that the agency fund gives us is the ability to take advantage of the Community Foundation’s investment strategy so that we can participate in things that would otherwise not be available to us such as funds with large contribution minimums,” said Germain.

For both Lash-Marshall and Germain, growing the agency fund is always at the forefront of their minds, however, the generosity the organization has experienced is something for which they are forever grateful.

“We are so appreciative of the support we have received from the community,” said Lash-Marshall. “Support has come from all over Central New York. We could not have achieved such success without them.”

For more information on The Baltimore Woods Nature Center Agency Fund, be sure to check out https://cnycf.org/bwnc.

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