Looking Back & Looking Ahead

Dear Friends,

When you have your head down and your “leaning into the harness” it doesn’t seem like you’re making any progress. But if you occasionally look up you see that progress has been made.

There are many people to thank for the growth this year. I won’t even try to enumerate or name them here lest I forget someone. Which, due to the sheer numbers of people who have helped I’m certain to forget several.

Many of you, maybe most or even all know that I have been working towards establishing a Folk School in the Avon Hills on the property my parents moved us out to in 1974.

Over the past several decades development pressure on the Avon Hills has grown, the world is getting faster, more digital and in a twist of irony our community becomes less connected as a result. I and anyone who has ever lived here quickly come to realize how blessed we are to grow up or live in “these Avon Hills”.

All of this has led to my goal of preserving this unique jewel of property in tandem with the mission of a folk school. More than a decade after first conceiving of this plan, 2017 saw the Avon Hills Folk School officially and formally begin to take shape. Our mission is to:

Offer experiential learning in a non-competitive, inter-generational environment that creates the opportunity for community to happen within the natural splendor of the Avon Hills.

The most impactful progress this year was the incorporation of the Avon Hills Folk School as a non-profit, 501(c)3 in the eyes of the IRS. This status qualifies gifts to the Folk School as tax deductible and allows us to apply for numerous grants and funding options.

Other notable actions in 2017 were: Major clean-up of the property;  a new lumber shed built with materials on-site; a roof on the Sugar Shack; great story in a local paper; our 2nd Annual Fall Hand Camp and the 2nd Annual Avon Hills Community Bouja.

Also in 2017 we received our first round of donated items: cabinets, stove, refrigerator, metal roofing and of course labor! And a few of our friends/supporters also provided financial help to the Folk School as well. Thank you!

What do we have planned for 2018?

Probably more than we can get done … but we’re going to try. Here’s an incomplete list:

  • First official classes (apart from Hand Camp):
    • Timber Framed Sauna, Pavillion for Classes, gatherings
    • Leather working and more
  • Pizza/Bread Oven, also held as a class.
  • Continued remodel, update of classroom space.
  • Continued work on the school grounds.
  • AHFS Maple Syrup Operation:
    • Enclose Sugar Shack
    • New evaporator
    • 1st Annual Sugar Camp(?)
  • Early preparation for raising of the 1889 Undersander Timber Frame barn.

The growth of the folk school will be measured by steady, measured progress. Each year we hope to do a little more, improve the classroom/school facilities and add a few more classes. All the while casting the net wider to include more folks who share our goal of learning hands-on skills and preserving the natural environment of the Avon Hills. And doing this together.

To make this happen we’ll need the continued, generous support of many, over many years.

As we close the door on 2017 and look ahead with anticipation to a New Year I hope you will find space in your annual giving to also support the future of the Avon Hills Folk School.

Your gift will be the “gas in the tank” that drives our ambitions for 2018. I look forward to being able to report on another year of new and important Firsts for the Avon Hills Folk School.




Chris Schellinger

Executive Director

Avon Hills Folk School


*Avon Hills Folk School is registered with the IRS as a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization making your gift tax deductible.

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