50 years of connections to the outdoors


In the late 1960’s, Charles Bell and Lucy Winton Bell found themselves in a unique position to do something to help address the challenges of diminishing wild spaces, water pollution, and the lack of outdoor education for children. They had recently acquired 200 acres of ecologically diverse land in Afton, Minnesota and wanted to use it to counter these devastating trends.

In 1970, Lucy and Charlie signed an agreement with Saint Paul Public Schools that would dedicate their land to outdoor science education for children. They established the Belwin Foundation (a combination of their names, Bell and Winton) and donated 225 acres of their land to it. With the arrival of students in 1971, Belwin Outdoor Education Laboratory, now Belwin Outdoor Science, was born.

Over the years, this vision has brought over half a million children to Belwin Conservancy for outdoor science education and protected hundreds of acres in the St. Croix Valley from development.

  • Group of children gathered in front of Belwin's Education Center. (Black and white historical photo.)
  • Two children using wheelchairs traverse Belwin's trails.
  • A group of young children gather at Belwin. (black and white historical photo)
  • Two children wearing nametags and laughing. (Black and white historical photo.)
  • Closeup of a child blowing a bubble, overlooking Belwin's Education Center property. (black and white historical photo.)

Environmental Education

Land Protection

Public Engagement


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Why Belwin Matters

We spark passion for wild places through conservation, education, and immersive experiences on more than 1,500 acres in Minnesota’s Saint Croix Valley.


Main Office

1553 Stagecoach Trail South
Afton, MN 55001

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