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Nature For Everyone: The Nature Museum Expands Acreage And Accessibility

Nature For Everyone: The Nature Museum Expands Acreage And Accessibility

posted Friday, December 15, 2017

Vermont is blessed with hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Hikers can ascend high peaks on the Long Trail or explore gentle dirt paths along their favorite stream. However, there are few accessible, outdoor options for people with ambulatory or visual challenges.

In southern Vermont, the team at The Nature Museum is working to create one more option for outdoorspeople of all abilities. With the recent addition of 3.5-acre land donation to the Museum's outdoor classroom, plans are underway to create a wheelchair-accessible outdoor experience for visitors of all ages and abilities. This trail will be open to all visitors, and will be used year-round in the Museum's nature programming for adults, families, and children.

Laurie Danforth, Board President of the Museum, writes: "Our neighbors, the Chapman family, have generously donated 3.5 acres, hereby known as the Chapman Meadow, which will enable us to fulfill our mission to connect people with nature in a much more inclusive way. We'll create a meandering, stroller- and wheelchair-friendly trail amidst native trees, shrubs, and perennials which will provide engaging educational opportunities for visitors and habitat for local wildlife."

"We are deeply grateful to the Chapman family," Danforth continued, "including Mary Hudson, Bill Chapman, Bill Chapman, Jr., and Shannon Beaty, who welcomed the idea of gifting the land, continuing the Chapman legacy in Grafton." Mary Hudson, land donor, wrote that it was "an easy decision to transfer 3.5 acres of land to the Museum because it corresponds so well with our family values. This gift honors Bill's devotion to Vermont and furthers my interest in protecting the natural environment."

The Chapman Meadow is situated adjacent to the Museum itself, creating a natural extension of the outdoor classroom already enjoyed by Museum visitors. Board member Rick Cowan described the historic gift as "transformative for The Nature Museum. By allowing our programs to expand beyond our building's modest footprint, the Chapman Meadow enables us to create a dramatic yet accessible trail which will make the Museum an even more exciting destination for nature lovers of all ages."

Looking ahead, the team at The Nature Museum plans to combine the creation of the professionally-designed accessible nature trail in the Chapman Meadow with an accessibility renovation of the Museum itself. These improvements, which will enhance the Museum experience for all visitors, will only be possible with community support.

Executive Director Carrie King writes, "For years, we have dreamt of expanding our nature programming to be more accessible and inclusive for all visitors. With this generous donation of land from the Chapman family, we are one step closer to realizing this dream. Moving forward, we will be reaching out to our neighbors, to fellow nature-lovers, and to everyone who values accessible outdoor recreation in our community, to help us create an accessible nature experience for everyone."

For more information on The Nature Museum, and to make a donation to support the creation of the accessibility trail, visit

The Nature Museum invites visitors from Vermont and beyond to visit and witness the development of this exciting new nature trail. Providing year-round natural history and science information, the Museum creates experiences that engage and enlighten audiences of all ages, and inspires stewardship of our natural world through natural history exhibits, nature programs for adults and children, and the annual Fairy House Festival. For more information, find The Nature Museum at, or visit

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