History

Timeline

1958 Charlie & Lucy Bell purchased 67 acres of land in Afton, Minnesota.
1970 The Bells donate 200 acres of land to the newly created Belwin Foundation and develop an outdoor education facility in cooperation with the St. Paul Public Schools.
1971 The first students of the Belwin Outdoor Education Laboratory (as Belwin Outdoor Science was then called) arrive.
1985 The Belwin board seeks to expand Belwin's land holdings to a total of 1,200 acres.
1997 Several local athletic leagues approach Belwin about constructing a youth athletic complex. The Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields complex is created.
2007 Belwin hires its first executive director.
2008 Belwin hosts its first herd of bison.
2009 Belwin changes its name to the Belwin Conservancy.

The Belwin Conservancy was founded in 1970; however, land acquisition for the organization began in 1958 when Charlie and Lucy Bell first purchased 68 acres of land along Valley Creek in Afton, Minnesota. At that time, farming in Afton was nearing the end of its viability. Parcels of land became available as people moved away so the Bells purchased additional adjacent property hoping to protect the area from being overdeveloped. By the early 1970s, the Bells had purchased 500 acres.

While acquiring property, Charlie and Lucy envisioned a relationship where the land would be protected and cherished and available for an environmental education program that could be used as a model for other land management organizations and school systems.

In the early 1970’s, the Saint Paul Public School District was attempting to locate property in the Saint Croix River Valley to use as an outdoor education laboratory. In 1970 the Bells and the school district came together and developed a cooperative agreement which continues today. Charlie and Lucy Bell donated land to the newly created Belwin Foundation for the development of an outdoor education facility.

Belwin Groundbreaking in 1971 In 1997 a group from the Valley Athletic Association and the Saint Croix Soccer Club approached Belwin about the availability of suitable land for an athletic complex. Belwin provided property adjacent to Interstate 94. The Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields are used by a variety of local youth sports organizations.