View Mt. Adams Institute's Annual Report

Learn more about our successes and impacts of our programs in our 2022-2023 Annual Report.

About MAI

Founded in 2011 by our first Executive Director Brendan Norman and Board Members Jeanne Bennett, Heather Weisfield, Mike Gundlach and Amanda Lawrence, MAI offers programs that connect people of all ages to the natural world including kids learning about the ecology of the forests and mountains of Mt. Adams alongside scientists, young adults & military veterans building skills that lead to jobs in the public lands and natural resources sector, and volunteers of all ages supporting the management of public lands. A core value of the organization is that relationships matter and thus we focus on building strong ties with our participants and partners.


Our Mission

The Mt. Adams Institute mission is to strengthen the connection between people and the natural world through education, service learning, career development and research.

Our Beginning

Our founder and first Executive Director, Brendan Norman, grew up on an old farm in Michigan – 7 acres of feed corn and 33 acres of swamp hardwood forest. As one of 8 kids, his parents utilized the farm as a child rearing tool. The kids were expected to do daily chores that ranged from feeding animals to cutting firewood. On top of that, the standing rule in the summer time was that kids were not allowed indoors between breakfast and dinner. So while his friends were racking up hours on the Atari and getting their first glimpses of MTV, Brendan was forced outdoors. Needless to say, he developed a strong distaste for anything associated with nature.

However a funny thing happened as the years passed and Brendan grew into his adult years, he actually discovered that the outdoors were important to him. His free time was spent exploring the Pacific Northwest in the company of family and friends via foot, bike, boat or other means. He found himself seeking out jobs that took him outside, especially those that involved working with others on public lands. Those experiences taught him that a strong connection to the natural world benefited people in a number of ways. It made them stronger, it helped define their sense of purpose, it inspired them to try new things and it helped develop life-long friendships with others that shared those moments.

Brendan’s story is similar to many of our staff, board members and participants. At MAI, we see our mission realized on a regular basis. A veteran finds employment with the Forest Service as a result of our VetsWork program that helps her both secure a good job and define her sense of purpose in the civilian world. A kid who is normally glued to a screen is inspired to sleep under the stars because of a summer camp experience. A patch of wilderness stays wild due to the cleanup efforts of our volunteers.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Mt. Adams Institute’s mission is to strengthen the connection between people and natural world

We believe people benefit from time spent in the outdoors and not everyone in our country has safe and fair access to these spaces. It is our responsibility to learn about and address the barriers that make marginalized communities feel unwelcome in outdoor spaces. We are dedicated to understanding our role within this issue and are committed to becoming a more inclusive organization.

To ensure everyone benefits from and helps shape our natural spaces:

  • We will study the difference between diversity, equity, and inclusion. These are separate concepts that each inform an important element of our work. We will examine everything we do through each of these lenses.


  • We will commit to learning, growing, listening, and relearning through ongoing conversations with our staff, board, participants, partners and communities.
  • We will build a more inclusive organization by increasing leadership opportunities within the conservation and environmental fields that will support equal access to the outdoors.
  • We will use our power and privilege to support other organizations and leaders that are committed to helping educate and reshape our communities.
  • We will remain open to learn from our mistakes and continue to progress as our organization evolves.

These commitments will help Mt. Adams Institute advance social justice and support inclusive outdoor spaces that reflect the diversity of our country.

Our Impact

Through our programs, Mt. Adams Institute creates opportunities for people to connect meaningfully with the natural world in order to:


        •  Improve personal health and wellbeing
        • Increase ecological literacy and a sense of interconnectedness
        • Promote lifelong environmental stewardship and action
        • Enhance civic and community engagement
        • Facilitate career opportunities in the fields of natural resource management, conservation, and education

Who We Serve

MAI serves youth, young adults, adults and families because we believe that a strong connection with nature benefits people of all ages and walks of life. We seek out opportunities to connect individuals with the natural world who are historically underrepresented in outdoor recreation and natural resource career areas.

Where We’re Going: 5-Year Vision

Mt. Adams Institute is a national leader in nature connectedness programming for youth and adults of all backgrounds. The organization’s programs are supported by appropriately sized facilities; sufficient staffing; efficient internal structures and systems; and stable, diverse funding to achieve incremental growth and stabilization while maintaining the organization’s core values and culture.

Our Staff