Vermont Institute of Natural Science mission is centered around education, research and avian rehabilitation. The organization is nonprofit and member based, located within the VINS Nature Center in Quechee Vermont where environmental education programs and learning is accessible to the community.
VINS has several partnerships with conservation organizations to promote field research in environmental science and offer programs for adults and children from all backgrounds and encourage them to care for their natural environment in their daily lives. More than 40,000 people participate in the programs offered at VINS annually.
VINS also operates an advanced avian wildlife rehabilitation clinic in New England. The staff rehabilitate more than 400 birds each year from the New Hampshire and Vermont areas. There are also raptors, reptiles, and arthropods that live at VINS that the veterinarians take care of. The wildlife rehabilitators at VINS are licensed by state and federal agencies.
There are 4 exhibit spaces that can be toured at VINS along with the raptor enclosures, and several activities that can be enjoyed.
· Ice Age Mammals on the Meadow- A winter exhibit that features artistic interpretations of Ice Age Mammals displayed in the meadow with education on each one. Dire Wolfs, Irish Elk, Saber Tooths, Mastodons, and more can be explored.
· Forest Exhibit- A completely immersive experience, visitors can see, hear, feel, and even smell the forest in this exhibit. Learn how to identity trees common in the region, the mammals and reptiles and their natural habitats and how the ecosystems of Vermont work. There are also art and crafts to do, and activities for smaller children as well.
· Crawl Space- An interactive exhibit where animal adaptations and the natural world are explored through story time, songs, and puppets. This nook is great for toddlers and children who like a quieter surrounding.
· Nature’s Playground- A place for kids to let lose, test their balance, climb, build, and imagine. Built from tree stumps and other natural elements, this exhibit uses the environment to encourage play.
Nature trails can be explored through more than a mile of floodplain forest and there are plenty of hardpacked surfaces for wheel chairs and stroller accessibility also. There are trails that travel the river banks, Dewey’s Pond, and also connect to the State Forest and Quechee Gorge.
Raptor Enclosures- There are 17 raptor enclosures at VINS and over 40 raptors that call the Nature Center home. Visitors can see these falcons, eagles, and owls up close and personal through the enclosures. The raptors that live at VINS have been injured or been otherwise prevented from being able to safely be reintroduced to the wild. They will be lifelong residents at the Nature Center and serve as ambassadors for the Raptor species and VINS. There are live raptor feedings daily at 2:45pm and other programs offered where visitors can see raptors fly and learn more about these amazing predators offered at the Nature Center. To learn more about when these programs are offered, visitors should look at the VINS website for more information.
Song Bird Aviary- This special enclosure is for native wild songbirds that have been injured and rehabilitated but cannot be released back into the wild. Birds such as doves, waxwings, and grosbeaks, can be found in this especially lovely aviary.
Rehab in Action- Guests can peak through this one way viewing window to see the exciting world of avian rehabilitation and the Wildlife Services team at VINS. Vermont Institute of Natural Science - Photo: giedriius/Fotolia
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