As we reflect on the year 2020 and the challenges that we’ve faced as a nation and as a planet, one thing remains constant – the peace, tranquility and calming effect that the outdoors has on our souls. We welcome you to join FIND Outdoors in exploring our sites and discover for yourself why you should FIND your adventure with us!
FIND Outdoors, formerly the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association, is one of the longest-running nonprofits in western North Carolina, and was begun as a “Friends of” group in 1972 to help operate the Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah National Forest. Over time, the mission of the group expanded well beyond the Cradle and today, includes campgrounds, visitor centers and sales outlets in North Carolina, Indiana and Georgia. With a mission of education and recreation on our public and private lands, our goal is to help you FIND your adventure and make a connection to the natural world through our managed sites, programming and unique outdoor merchandise and souvenirs.
FIND unveiled its new brand name and look in March of 2020 to better unify all sites operated under the name FIND Outdoors – a name that literally spells out what we do: Forest Inspired Nature Discovery. After years of mistaken identity and confusing logos, it was time for the nonprofit to reflect on the message we were sending to our visitors and what path we wanted to travel with the organization as a whole. The intensive rebranding, which took place smack-dab in the middle of the COVID pandemic, cuts to the core of what we do while digging deep into the roots of our history.
As FIND worked to advance our mission throughout the years, the organization took on larger, regional roles in campground and visitor center management, as well as operations of sales outlets and began reinvesting heavily into our educational programming. FIND’s strength has been our collaborative efforts with local and national partners to achieve goals to benefit public lands. The US Forest Service has been our longest-running partner for decades but with the additional partnership of the National Park Service to operate the Northwest Trading Post on the Blue Ridge Parkway, our desire to branch out and expand became a reality. Additionally, we work with other non-profits and community partners such as the Friends of the Mountains-To-Sea Trail to aid in maintenance and upkeep of NC’s longest thru-hike trail.
Education becomes a natural pathway to ensuring that the public, and especially FIND visitors, understand not just the importance of nonprofits in general, but the importance of our natural spaces for overall health. To this end, all FIND Outdoors sites offer safe, socially distanced educational opportunities in the form of nature-based and cultural programming, family activities, speakers and special events that highlight the Southern Appalachians and beyond. Our free, online “Virtual Forest Bathing” tour brought the wonder of our local forests to individuals from 21 states and seven countries, while the Cradle of Forestry offers parents and teachers free curriculum in the form of short, online videos that focus on social studies, nature and history.
When not greeting visitors or helping the public FIND their connection to beautiful public lands, the headquarters staff, located in Pisgah Forest, NC, is hard at work at making sure nonprofit dollars are well spent. Because FIND relies heavily on grant funding, private donations and the revenue collected at the sites we manage, we make it a priority to reinvest our facilities, exhibits and programming at all managed sites. Grant support has allowed us to update the Cradle of Forestry with a Citizen Science Lab for students of all ages and abilities, creating a safe space for visitors to learn about modern forestry practices. Our “Round-Up” program at FIND visitor centers allows visitors to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar in order to use nickels and dimes to fund programs, facilities, speakers and exhibits. Additionally, we reinvest in campground and visitor center facilities throughout the year. Improvements to restrooms, trails and campground amenities are all examples of how we ensure public lands are available for generations to come.
Core to the culture at FIND Outdoors has been, and continues to be ensuring equitable outdoor experiences on our public and private lands for all – regardless of age, ability and socio-economic background. As the COVID pandemic has put a strain on society’s ability to interact with our fellow humans, nature and the great outdoors will continue to be the route that allows for healing, peace and a calm mind. As FIND continues to adapt to the needs of our visitors in a thoughtful way, we will continue to create comfortable, safe spaces at our sites to ensure that everyone gets a chance to enjoy what nature has given all of us – equally.
To learn more about our organization, access our free educational materials, make a donation or FIND your next adventure, please visit www.gofindoutdoors.org or call 828-883-FIND. We’ll be happy to help you FIND an outdoor experience that you’ll remember!
Cover Photo: The peak of Brasstown Bald, GA during a special Astro-Photography workshop, photo courtesy of Find Outdoorsa