The Harris Center has a Story to Tell The Harris Center land is full of stories from the past. The hills of New Hampshire were shaped by retreating glaciers 12,000 years ago. Huge granite boulders and deep clear lakes were left behind. For thousands of years, native tribes spent summers hunting and fishing this area. When European settlers arrived in the 1700s, the massive trees and abundant wildlife became resources for supporting their life in this ‘new world’. By 1850, two-thirds of New Hampshire’s forest had been cleared for pasture or crops. Much of the lumber was used to build homes and barns and to start new settlements.
Changes in the Landscape As plows pushed through the hardscrabble, stones were piled up to protect crops from livestock, mark property lines and divide pastures. By the mid 1800s, many farmers had given up farming and headed for growing mill towns and productive soils in the west. Stonewalls and cellar holes are reminders of their hard lives. In the early 1900s, people from crowded cities like New York and Boston discovered the clean air and quiet nature of New Hampshire hills. Among them was L. Vernon Briggs of New York City. In 1928, he purchased over 3,000 acres of property near Mt. Skatutakee and Lake Nubanusit and built a summer home.
Retreating to the Country Vernon Briggs’ granddaughter, Eleanor, would visit the New Hampshire estate in the summers. It was on this land, away from the fast-paced life of the city, that Eleanor first connected with the forests, fields and lakes of New Hampshire.
In 1968, Eleanor learned that a developer had purchased some of her grandparents’ land and was preparing to subdivide it . At the young age of 29 years old, she made a decision to save the land and bought it back. Her love for this land nurtured a strong need to protect and care for it. One Decision Can Make a Difference “ Remembering what happened to my childhood home on Long Island, NY, I began to visualize skyscrapers around Norway Pond. One morning I woke up with a jolt of anxiety and decided the only way to calm down was to do something about my fears.”
A Legacy: The Harris Center for Conservation Education Eleanor Briggs established the Harris Center in 1970, using her her grandmother’s house as a conservation educational center. She named the organization after her cat, Harris, who she felt “ represented a certain wildness, humor, savvy and strong survival instincts, all elements needed by an environmental education center .”
A Life Dedicated to Conservation Eleanor’s commitment to the protection of important lands and biodiversity continues today. She is a photographer who works with the Wildlife Conservation Society, documenting endangered bird species and essential habitat around the world. Her work in Cambodia has saved critical wetlands and breeding grounds for cranes, ibis and storks. She believes that education is the key to conservation.
An Evolving Conservation Mission In the early 1970’s, the Harris Center offered public forums and programming about land protection. In 1973, John Kulish became the Harris Center’s ambassador to local high schools, inspiring students in ‘outdoor classrooms’ around Hancock. These were the places he learned ecology, wandering the woods, meadows, marshes and swamps. Environmental education programs continue to serve local school children and teachers. Ten years later, Meade Cadot added land protection to the work of the Harris Center with the help of many partners. As a land trust, the Harris Center has protected over 15,000 contiguous acres, creating wildlife corridors and large protected areas for people and animals to roam.
Educating for the Future: Sustainable Design In 2001, The Harris Center began an historic capital campaign to renovate the old estate using sustainable design principles. It opened its new doors in 2004. The building itself quickly became part of the educational mission. The new ‘green’ building reflects a strong commitment from its membership and supporters to offer vital and current public education that leads to conservation and sustainable practice.
Welcome to The Harris Center for Conservation Education We’re Glad You Found Us!
Welcome to the Harris Center for Conservation Education We’re Glad You Found Us!
The Harris Center is a member-supported organization connecting people with the land through Conservation Education, Outings and Land Conservation. www.harriscenter.org Come Inside if you have Questions, the office is down the hall. Becoming a Member is easy. Just Ask Us or Grab a Brochure. Business hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday Taking a Hike? Check out the Trail Kiosk behind you at the other end of the Walkway. Interested in one of our Conservation Programs, Camp Programs or an Outing? Take a Newsletter.
The Harris Center for Conservation Education
The Harris Center for Conservation Education
OUTINGS and PROGRAMS Guided Outings Natural History Hikes Workshops Presentations and Speakers Sustainable Building Tours
LAND CONSERVATION A Land Trust Protecting Habitat in the Monadnock Region.
LAND CONSERVATION A Land Trust protecting Monadnock Region habitat .
Conservation Education Educational programs in schools and camp settings.