The Slim Baker Foundation for Outdoor Education, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an outdoor recreation area and educational programming to the residents and visitors of Bristol, New Hampshire. Established more than 60 years ago, the foundation wants to raise awareness of what the Slim Baker area has to offer, further develop the area and expand the educational programs. The board of directors reached out to Empower Success Corps (ESC), a nonprofit that provides consulting services to help other nonprofits succeed, to help provide strategic guidance as the foundation continues to grow and expand.
In April, ESC Consultant Judie Post facilitated a day-long board retreat designed to strengthen the board and start work on a development plan. According to Jenne Walker, Executive Director, “The retreat was exactly what we needed. For me, it was truly a gift. I am so thankful for Judie’s guidance and the board’s contribution to action items that will move us forward.”
But who is Slim Baker?
Nestled in Newfound Lake Region is a beautiful 125-acre tract of land that has a rich and for most, unknown history. In March of 1953, six leaders of the community — John C. Greenan, a physician; Albert Genetti, principal of the High School; Cheever Newhall, manager of his family’s Pinnacle Farm Apple Orchard; Luther Mitchell, co-owner of Cardigan Sports Store; and Richard “Wink” Tapply, Director Bristol Community Center — met at the Bristol Community Center to talk about plans to honor a dedicated and well-loved New Hampshire Fish and Game Department conservation officer who was dying of cancer, Everett Dane Baker, or as most called him “Slim.”
“Slim” Baker was a lanky, six-foot three-inch WWII navy veteran who was born in New Boston, New Hampshire in 1910. He led an adventurous life before becoming a conservation officer. After receiving a degree in forestry from the University of New Hampshire, Slim tried a stint as an oil man and silver miner in New Mexico, was a riverboat man in the Midwest, a cowhand in Arizona, a forest ranger in Wyoming and a salmon fisherman in Alaska. But he finally found his passion as conservation officer in New Hampshire and spent nearly 20 years in this role, until his death 1953. Slim had a deep commitment to the conservation, management and protection on New Hampshire’s natural resources and friends in his community wanted to honor him for his dedicated service over the years.
Slim had spent his life teaching conservation and had always dreamed of an outdoor area that could be used by the whole community as a kind of school of outdoor living. Those wanting to honor Slim approached Reba Follansbee Hipson, whose father Herbert had always spoken of donating a beautiful 125-acre tract of land around Little Round Top to the Town of Bristol. As a result of those conversations with Ms. Hipson in 1953, the non-profit corporation, the Slim Baker Fund for Outdoor Living, was formed. In 1956 a rustic lodge was constructed, and an adjacent ten-acre field was purchased by the Fund and added to the original acreage. This property provided good access to the lodge and offered level terrain for campsites. In addition, a trail was cut to the summit of Little Round Top.
Over the years, many organizations have used the property and its facilities. A summer day camp under the direction of the Bristol Community Center uses the area and lodge in June, July and August. Family groups have held picnics and reunions there. Scouts from the surrounding communities have enjoyed the area for meetings and campouts. And of course, many school classes have enjoyed nature walks through the trails.
Foundation Hopes Local Residents Uncover this Hidden Gem
However, the Slim Baker Foundation (SBF) for Outdoor Education is one of New Hampshire’s best kept secrets. To help raise awareness of the foundation and move the organization forward, an executive director, Jenne Walker, was hired in March of 2018. Like Slim, Jenne also spent her career in conservation education having worked as a youth program manager for Squam Lakes Association and a youth conservation corps coordinator for the USDA Forest Service.
“The Slim Baker Foundation is a wonderful organization and I am passionate about helping educate and connect children to nature and the beauty of the area,” said Walker. In order to develop a strategy to move the organization forward, Walker reached out to Empower Success Corps (ESC). Jenne set up an initial meeting with Lynn Post, Director of ESC Northern New England and Slim Baker Foundation board member, Leslie Dion. “Jenne and Leslie identified some priority areas they would like some help with such as board roles and responsibilities, fundraising to build campsites and expand programs and the development of better marketing strategies. The Slim Baker Area is a true gem but is not very well known,” said Post.
In February of this year, Post met with Walker; board chair Dick Tapply; and ESC consultant Judie Post to further discuss a board retreat intended to strengthen the board’s understanding of roles, responsibilities and goals for the future.
At the retreat, the group talked about what was working well and what needed improvement. It was clear the Slim Baker Foundation has a talented and dedicate board of directors committed to strengthening and expanding their programs and services.
Strengthening the Work of the Slim Baker Foundation for the Enjoyment of All
“A priority area is fundraising,” said Dick Tapply. “We discussed building relationships with potential corporate partners, reaching out to past campers and families of former board members and creating memberships with tiers. Judie helped us brainstorm these great ideas.”
The board also identified a priority to build relationships with Plymouth State University and other schools. “The real legacy of Slim Baker is to provide programs of outdoor recreation, nature study and practical conservation for residents of the Newfound area and visitors,’” said Walker. “We want to make sure the children in our community are able to learn about nature and conservation.” Also discussed were building campsites, a pavilion and a new building.
“The retreat was exactly what we needed. Judie’s guidance helped the board design their own path forward and align behind the same goals,” said Jenne Walker. Since the retreat, the Slim Baker Foundation has been working on a development plan and committee descriptions so they can move forward with building and expansion.
About Empower Success Corps:
Empower Success Corps (ESC) is a nonprofit organization that provides expertise to help other nonprofits succeed. ESC’s expert consultants complete high-impact projects to foster creativity and growth for nonprofits. For over 35 years, ESC has been working with nonprofits to help them build capacity and create impact in their communities. For more news and information on ESC, visit http://www.empowersuccesscorps.org.
About Slim Baker Foundation
The Slim Baker Area is maintained by the Slim Baker Foundation, and open year-round for hiking, snowshoeing, and camping. For more information, to make facilities reservations, or make a donation to the foundation, please go to www.slimbaker.org.