RAVENWOOD NATURAL SCIENCE CENTER

Connecting people with nature, community, and self!

aka Ravenwood Outdoor Learning Center   |   Whitefish, MT   |  http://www.ravenwoodolc.org

Mission

Ravenwood’s mission is to cultivate health, passion for learning, and stewardship of ecological and human communities through nature-based mentoring of youth, families, and adults in the communities we serve. Ravenwood is all about healthy kids, families, and communities. Quality mentoring guides our mission, especially when it connects us deeply to the land and each other, creating relationships filled with meaning, hope, and resilience. There are many obstacles and negative trends in our fast-paced society—obesity and health issues, screen addiction, attention disorders, stress, violence, disrespect, substance abuse, you name it—all of which need our attention and action as a community. Ravenwood is here to help, a place for kids and adults to learn and grow, naturally.

Notes from the nonprofit

Over the past two years Ravenwood has made a focused effort to make our life changing programs more available to more low-income children and families and address racism, cultural appropriation, and gender inequality through hiring practices, strategic fundraising, and building new school partner programs.

Ruling year info

2002

Executive Director

Brett Holmquist

Main address

PO Box 1314

Whitefish, MT 59937 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

81-0537457

NTEE code info

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The cost of modern technological advances is being born out in our children's emotional and mental health. Though people are more connected than ever ever before to information, global issues, advances in health care and food access, people of all ages, especially children, are suffering from high rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, and general feelings of apathy and disconnect. Children are spending more and more time in front of screens and losing contact with traditional skills and cooperative community building activities passed down through innumerable generations. Our next generations are losing hope and its time we do something about it.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Camp Corvid

This program provides meaningful nature connection experiences and skill development opportunities to over 300 school kids per year in both residential and day program formats.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

This weekly summer program gives kids ages 6 to 12 a chance to explore the mysteries of nature with the guidance of our experienced staff of mentors. We start each day by sharing gratitude, hearing inspiring stories, moving our bodies, singing, free play and then setting out for a day of fun and adventure! From exploring a nearby stream bank to building viable shelters and learning a wide range of ancestral skills, Wilderness Kids come home tired, happy, and filled with the inspiration only a good day in the woods can provide!

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

Teen Camp takes skills and personal development to the next level with a mixture of adventure, challenge, skills, and personal mentoring. This back country experience immerses teens in nature connection mentoring, social-emotional learning opportunities, skill development, and meaningful challenges and reflection processes designed to support their active transition into adulthood while nurturing an expanding awareness of self and service to others.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Families

Personalized training and a new role as “Mentor in Training (MIT) during youth programs gives longtime Ravenwood pre-teens and teens an opportunity to share all that they have learned and move deeper into their own journey of self discovery through this empowering program supported by Ravenwood core staff members.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Families

North Valley Music School and Ravenwood have teamed up to create this incredibl camp! Built on the routines of nature connection Ravenwood is known for, we infuse high level music instruction into our focused skill time each day. Creativity abounds and the birds aren't the only ones making songs out in the woods at Ravenwood this summer!

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

The Chrysalis Project is a communally-held experience for adolescents that helps youth preserve and further develop their sense of personal power, connection to community, responsible decision-making, courage, and leadership capacity as they enter and work through their teen years. Our aim is to support youth in their personal, social, and physical development goals while fortifying the community’s esteem and trust in its youth.

Chrysalis is different than many other nature-based enrichment activities! We will include nature-based personal and group activities that may at times be difficult or edgy for participants. We may sleep in survival shelters without sleeping bags, or jump in an icy creek at dawn! We will also include a registered Nurse-Practitioner and other certified health care workers as guest instructors. Our intent is to create the opportunity to meet personal challenges, create strong bonds, and create a safe, informative space for participants to ask important questions about their own development in both body and psyche that they may not feel comfortable bringing up in everyday contexts.

Chrysalis includes three groups. Owls is a leadership experience for girls and feminine-identified people. Ptarmigan is a leadership experience for boys and masculine-identified people. And Flying Squirrels is a leadership experience for people who identify differently than the gender binary. Each group is open to those who self-identify with it, and each group will get to do similarly challenging activities.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
LGBTQ people

This program provides hands-on experience of the universal arts, crafts and skills shared by all ancient human ancestors. We teach the basics of making art from natural raw materials, the crafts our ancestors used to make beautiful objects for everyday use, the awareness to decode the patterns of nature, and the skills of using the most ancient technology to make that most basic of human tools, fire. Variations on these skills, crafts and tools are commonly represented in many archaeological sites all over the world, so are not tied to any specific ancestral lineage. Every human alive to day has ancestors who, at one time or another, used these skills to survive, so we teach these skills in the context of gratitude for all our ancestors.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

If your school has a nearby nature spot we can come to you. Bring your class out to romp in the woods with Ravenwood!

We offer full-day and half-day programs in nature, with one Ravenwood instructor per 16 students. We require teacher participation and support and encourage other adult volunteers, with a goal of a student-to-adult ratio of 5:1. We will plan an opening circle, active games, focused activities, songs, stories, and a closing circle. Our content and themes can be tailored to your curriculum. Some content options include local natural history, survival skills, ancestral arts and crafts, active games in nature, and awareness activities.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

Wild Homeschool is a day nature program for homeschoolers. We meet every other Wednesday through the Fall and Spring seasons to connect with our beautiful natural environment, connect with our community of friends and neighbors, and learn about ourselves. We practice naturalist and survival skills to better know know our world, our community, and ourselves.

Our days change with the seasons but we do have some traditions! We always start by giving gratitude to something that makes our lives better, and we often light a campfire to symbolize the warm center of our community. Sometimes we have survival skills challenges, and sometimes we make nature-based crafts. Most days we take some time for storytelling and songs around the campfire. We always take time to explore the little miracles that nature gives us, whether they are a new kind of bug, a beautiful wildflower, delicious wild plants for tea, or tracks in freshly-fallen snow.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Awards

Business of the Year 2009

Montana Environmental Education Association

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of campers enrolled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children, Preteens, Adolescents, Low-income people, Girls

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This metric reflects the total enrollment in all of our youth programs throughout the year.

Number of camps offered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Children, Preteens, Low-income people, Girls

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

This metric reflects the total number of programs we offer throughout the year.

Number of students who receive scholarship funds and/or tuition assistance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Children, Preteens, Girls, Low-income people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This metric reflects the number of students who receive tuition assistance. Students in our public school programs do not pay tuition, so those programs are not represented in this metric.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Ravenwood seeks to build strong community by empowering youth and adults to generate webs of connection and mentoring across generations and in direct contact with nature, our greatest teacher the source of all we need to not only survive, but thrive.

Our goals:

Strengthen local school communities through multi-generational nature based programs designed to develop curiosity and a natural love for learning and mentoring in partnership with site hosts near to neighborhood schools.

Provide support and mentoring to children in low income and disadvantaged situations.

Create awareness on a community, regional, and national level of the power of nature connection mentoring practices and contribute to efforts to redesign current education models and practices to reflect natural design and healthy human development for all children, and adults too!

Develop a community model site that fosters nature connection mentoring practices, provides a secure long-term location for local programming, and provides sustainable housing opportunities for low income families and elders.

In our 17 years serving the Flathead Valley of Montana we have developed a variety of ways to help participants become more resilient, smarter, healthier, and happier through nature connection. Our school programs include single day events, long-term mentoring programs, and overnight school trips. We also offer individual signup programs; summer camps, homeschool groups, and seasonal family gatherings all help our community learn and grow together.

We are a fee-for-service nonprofit, but public schools either receive services for free or only pay a fraction of the cost of programs calculated based on their percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunch. For individual signups, we offer an income-based scholarship program to all participants, so that the families most in need pay very little fees, and donations more strongly benefit those participants who are in the most need.

Whether at a school, overnight, or a family camp, Ravenwood’s results come from creating and strengthening the relationships that serve as the foundation of resilience. We use a set of traditions and routines to spark engagement, learning and connection, including giving thanks, close nature observation, asking good questions, practicing survival skills, and hearing everyone’s voice in circle discussions, just to name a few. Participants have fun and learn bioregionally-relevant skills like shelter making, tree ID, and animal tracking. Long-term, participants improve in many areas of psycho-social health often without realizing it, largely because they build a foundation of connection to themselves, their community, and the natural world that will serve them for a lifetime.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Children, parents, public and private school teachers, community elders.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We recently consulted with a number of regional indigenous leaders to help us design an specialist staff position to help us reduce racism and increase awareness and knowledge around cultural appropriation. We have completed the hire and are working now to develop specific curriculum to meet our goals.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    We feel much more aligned with our service recipients needs and expectations. Our program goals and delivery are better suited to meet the needs of our community in real time.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

RAVENWOOD NATURAL SCIENCE CENTER
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

RAVENWOOD NATURAL SCIENCE CENTER

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Gary Johnson

Self Employed Engineering and Project Management Consultant

Term: 2016 - 2023

Alison Kalaway-Young

Self Employed Jeweler

Kelly Coloff

Nurse Practitioner

Christopher Rankin

Software Sales and Support

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 8/12/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 04/21/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.