Today’s the day! We’re participating in two great Brattleboro benefit auctions. If you are looking for a good excuse for a day trip to Vermont, there couldn’t be a better day for it! Find some unique local crafts & merchandise while you support a great cause. One benefit auction goes to support the Windham County Humane Society and the other supports the River Gallery School!

Which Brattleboro benefit auction will you pick?

Benefit Auctions

The 8th annual “Wags to Riches” cocktail party and auction directly supports the loving care of more than 800 animals who will come through the doors of WCHS in need of help this year. Attendees will have the opportunity to bid on a wide variety of live and silent auction items, including exotic weekend getaways, unique local art and jewelery, gift certificates to local restraunts and shops, and much more! The cost is $50 per person and includes a drink ticket and light dining. We donated a 3-Day weekend stay at Stratton Mountain Resort and a beautiful POLYWOOD Adirondack chair to be auctioned off!


Benefit Auctions

Proceeds from the 25th annual River Gallery School auction goes to support this “vibrant hub for Brattleboro’s artistic community, with bright, spacious studios on Main Street overlooking the Whetstone Brook.” The school was founded in 1976–and has since offered classes, community workshops, and summer and school vacation programs for students of all ages.  We donated a Shaker style American made 4 poster bed to be auctioned off at this event!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Vernon Elementary School Students: Future Scientists of America?

We are so happy to have sponsored BEEC’s Aquatic Field Trip, where Vernon Elementary School students got the opportunity to explore a pond ecosystem and observe a variety of aquatic organisms. They studied the life cycles and food webs of these insects and amphibians, explored the ponds, and kept field notes on their findings. The students caught, identified, and shared their discoveries with the class! We think we have some brilliant scientists and biologists in the making!

DSC04593Students were eagerly identifying different creatures they caught, and were excited to share their findings with their classmates. 



DSC04632They worked alongside each other and collaborated on how to best catch the creatures without harming them!



DSC04657Peggy got an up close look at a water bug that was discovered by one of the aquatic explorers. 





DSC04651Students took detailed field notes on their discoveries and sightings at the pond. 



DSC04675Teachers and students were excited to share the bugs they found with us. 


DSC04689Can you spot the water snake? It was the talk of the trip!


We’d like to thank BEEC for organizing this great trip and giving kids the opportunity to get outside and learn about the environment hands on. To learn more about them and their mission, visit their website



This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Monarch Butterfly on Milkweed

Why is it important to create habitat for Monarchs?

  • Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed, as Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed
  • Milkweed is the only plant on which monarch butterflies will lay their eggs
  • Shifting priorities in land management has resulted in the loss of much milkweed from the landscape
  • Planting milkweed supports monarch populations, and their incredible migration journey (Did you know–Monarch butterflies travel up to 3,000 miles each fall to their wintering site in central Mexico?)
  • In 2004,  550 million Monarchs completed the winter migration, while in 2013 only 33 million arrived
  • Much of this can be attributed to illegal foresting, but an even worse culprit is the large-scale use of herbicides that destroy milkweed
Monarch Butterflies Survive on Milkweed
Nina & Peggy are tricking our milkweed seeds into thinking they’ve been through winter. “Cold stratification” is important for good germination and growth.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Scientists, conservationists, and butterfly enthusiasts around the world are encouraging people to grow milkweed in their own yards and gardens
  • Contact your town representatives and discuss adding milkweed to your local community garden, or in unoccupied land space
  • Share blogs & articles about Monarch butterflies and milkweed online
  • Sign a petition to protect Monarch butterflies from deadly herbicides

Gathering Milkweed For Monarch Butterflies | Vernon, VT

Milkweed and Monarch Butterflies | Vernon, Vermont
Milkweed and Monarch Butterflies | Vernon, Vermont

Getting started with your milkweed garden:

  • Contact the Monarch Watch Seed Bank where you can donate or request seeds.
  • When buying seeds, always make sure they are Monarch friendly. Believe it or not, unsuspecting people have killed off butterflies trying to plant Milkweed covered in herbicides
  • Gather seeds from nearby Milkweed gardens
  • Directions for planting milkweed seed can be found at
  • Together and with a little help from Mother Nature we can bring back the Monarchs!
  • Remember to use the hashtag #MonarchsVT to share your progress with us!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Conserve Birds this Global Big Day
Our resident bird watcher and wildlife photographer, Nina, captured this gorgeous shot of a Tree Swallow taking up residence in a birdhouse we built at Stonehurst. He’s just one of many birds we’ve spotted on the property.

On May 9, 2015, the team at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is calling on bird lovers around the world to spend some time birding and then recording their findings in eBird–making it truly a “Global Big Day.” eBird is as global tool for birders, providing critical data for science. With eBird you can record the birds you see, keep track of your bird lists, explore dynamic maps and graphs, share your sightings,  join the eBird community and make a positive contribution to science and conservation.

What is a “Global Big Day”?

According to the American Birding Association, A Big Day Count is a single-team effort in which the primary objectives are (1) to identify as many bird species as possible during a single calendar day and (2) to strive to have all team members identify all species recorded.

What your support means:

Your support will help ensure that the Cornell Lab can continue to advance bird conservation, including:

• The eBird project and the scientific data it produces to make smart land management decisions that benefit birds in your region and across the world;

• On-the-ground research and conservation across the full life-cycle of birds as they cross hemispheres between nesting grounds and wintering habitats;

• Powerful opportunities that inspire people of all ages to learn about and protect birds, including the BirdSleuth K-12 curriculum in the U.S. and Latin America; live Bird Cams; webinars with experts; free Merlin Bird ID app, and a wealth of information on the All About Birds website.

A purple finch enjoys his lunch outside of the Marketing office.

Why you should help:

Pledge For Passion: By helping to protect birds, you’ll protect the natural places needed for the health of our planet, people, and wildlife.

Conservation: Your gift makes possible on-the-ground conservation programs to protect birds such as Cerulean Warblers, Golden-winged Warblers, and other long-distance migrants.

Research: You’ll enable the best research scientists to inform conservation management and policy to help birds and protect nature.

Motivation: Every cent you pledge motivates the top birders in the world to find every possible bird species in 24 hours to raise funds for conservation.

Education: Your support also funds conservation through education–such as conservation workshops for Latin American biologists and training for undergraduates, giving them the skills they need to make a difference.

Citizen Science: You’ll help engage the most active corps of conservation-minded citizen scientists in collecting millions of records needed to monitor and protect birds.

Web tools: The Lab reaches out to hundreds of thousands of people, promoting conservation though our All About Birds website, eBird citizen-science project, online NestCams, and much more.

Efficiency: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology receives only 1% of its funding from Cornell University. Friends and members make their work possible.

How to get started:

The first thing you should do is register for eBird, so on May 9th you will be all set to post your bird observations! Then you should clear out a time in your day on May 9th to get outside and get spotting! If you can’t get outside this Saturday, you can still help contribute to Global Big Day by making a donation to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

This post is one in a series about Vermont Woods Studios’ mission of rainforest conservation and our support of Bolivian environmentalists dedicated to reforestation and ecotourism in the AmazonPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4.

Conservation through ecotourism. Monkeys everywhere in the Serere Reserve of the Bolivian Amazon Rainforest
A troop of about 50 of these yellow squirrel monkeys visited the Casa Grande at Serere on our second day there.  For such small primates, they sure made a lot of noise as they come crashing through the canopy, leaping great distances between branches. They’re amazing to watch.

Serere Reserve:  Most Bio Diverse Place on Earth

My son Riley was volunteering last month at the Serere Reserve, a rainforest conservation project in Bolivia’s Amazon Basin.  Serere is part of the Madidi Mosaic, the largest and most bio-diverse protected area in the world.  Kendall (my other son) and I joined Riley for a week and although our “mission” was to learn about rainforest conservation, I have to say the highlight of our trip was living with Serere’s monkeys.

Spider Monkey with Riley | Volunteering at Serere | Conservation through Ecotourism
The best part of volunteering at Serere?  I think Riley might say it was getting to know the orphaned monkeys, tapirs and capybaras. Serere functions as a sanctuary for rescued wildlife, some of whose mothers have been shot and eaten by illegal loggers.

Monkeys Everywhere

Globally half of all primates face imminent extinction, as they face threats from loggers, hunters and smugglers.  But Serere is different and here monkeys abound. That’s thanks to the efforts of owner/operator of Serere, legendary environmental activist Rosamaria Ruiz.  Clearly, humans aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed her painstaking work in restoring the natural flora and fauna to the reserve.  Monkeys are everywhere!  During our short stay, we saw 5 different species of monkeys in the wild.  We also had the privilege of getting to know the resident spider monkeys.  After losing family members to illegal loggers these monkeys have found a safe sanctuary at Serere.  The area is constantly patrolled to protect wildlife and habitat– an activity that volunteers and guests often participate in.  It’s part of a “conservation through ecotourism” strategy.

Diego caring for an orphaned spider monkey | Conservation through ecotourism
Diego is the hospitality manager at Serere but his duties occasionally include giving a little TLC to orphaned spider monkeys. I’m guessing he never had to do that at the Club Med resorts he’s managed!

Serere’s Monkey Species

Here’s a run down on the types of monkeys we saw at Serere along with a few fun facts I learned on LiveScience:

  • Yellow squirrel monkeys (Saimiri) mate for life. We watched them grooming each other, intertwining their tails, holding hands, cuddling, and kissing.
  • Spider monkeys (Ateles) are named for their long tails and lengthy spidery limbs. They’re amazingly agile and can quickly walk on two legs across a tree branch.
  • Red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus) When a troop of howler monkeys yell, they can be heard for up to three miles.  We woke up to their calls every morning. Great alarm clock!
  • Capuchin monkeys (Cebus) use tools. They can smash nuts with rocks, insert branches into crevices to capture ants for food, and use large branches to club snakes.
  • Nocturnal Owl Monkeys (Aotus) spend most of their time foraging and sleeping in the high canopy, above ten meters. They sleep in tree holes or thickets of dense foliage which may be shared with other nocturnal animals like bats.
Conservation through ecotourism at Madidi Travel in the Bolivian Amazon
Madidi Travel has posted many professional videos about their work with monkeys and rainforest conservation including several done in association with National Geographic magazine.

Voluntourism Helps Protect the Monkey Kingdom

Students, have you ever thought of taking a gap year to volunteer in conservation-related work?  Young professionals, maybe you’ve considered spending your vacation “voluntouring”? Families, are you looking to teach your children that they can change the world?  Teachers & guidance counselors, do you have students interested in primates or rainforest conservation? Researchers and primatologists, are you studying one of the monkeys listed above?

If so, consider supporting, visiting and/or volunteering at Madidi Travel’s Serere Reserve.  Here you’ll find a wonderful group of dedicated environmentalists using ecotourism to fund rainforest conservation.  Volunteer and guest programs are tailored to meet your needs and interests.  Check out the Madidi Travel website, follow Madidi on Facebook & Twitter and watch these videos about their work.  Then contact Rosamaria Ruiz to join the many scientists, artists, photographers and film makers from all over the world, who have volunteered their time and talent to conserve the wonders of the Serere rainforest reserve.

Rosa Maria Ruiz | Madidi Travel | Serere | Conservation through Ecotourism
Rosamaria Ruiz of Madidi Travel, owner and operator of the Serere rainforest reserve in the Bolivian Amazon basin.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.