The Mountain Institute

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The Mountain Institute
The Mountain Institute Logo.png
Founded Cherry Grove, WV, 1972
Founders Daniel C. Taylor, King Seegar, & Lila Bishop
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Area served
The Andean, Appalachian, Himalayan, and other Mountain Ranges
Slogan Conserving mountain ecosystems and empowering mountain communities

The Mountain Institute (TMI) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the world's mountains by conserving mountain ecosystems and empowering the people in mountain communities. The Mountain Institute is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and operates regional field offices in the Andes,[1] Appalachians,[2] and Himalayas.[3] Respectively, these are the longest, the oldest, and the tallest mountain ranges in the world.


The Mountain Institute was founded in 1972 as the Woodlands & Whitewater Institute in Cherry Grove, West Virginia. The organization's goal was to facilitate children sharing activities with their parents, experiencing adventure together, and developing relationships that would support and guide them through adolescence. Woodlands was designed as a "family equivalent to Outward Bound and National Outdoor Leadership School" with courses that brought together fathers and sons and fathers and daughters for rock climbing, caving, backpacking, fly fishing, photography, falconry, and survival skills. These outings were based out of the Spruce Knob Mountain Center, a 400-acre tract of land abutting the Monongahela National Forest on the west side of Spruce Mountain in West Virginia.[4]

In 1973, TMI's work expanded to experiential and leadership education for youth. The Baltimore Friends School, of which TMI's founders are alumni, was the first school course. St. Paul's School for Girls came next, and the founders were soon working with a number of schools in the Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, and New York City areas. These school courses quickly became TMI's niche in the experiential education world and remain so today.

TMI became an international organization in 1987, when it assisted in the establishment of Makalu Barun National Park in Nepal and the adjacent Qomolangma National Nature Preserve in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.[5] At this time, the organization changed its name to "Woodlands Mountain Institute" to reflect its broad work in the world's mountain ranges. "Woodlands" was later dropped.


The Andes program began in 1996, as large scale mining and hydroelectric projects and a sharp increase in tourism coincided with a rapid decline in traditional means of livelihood within local communities. The resulting conflict between development and traditional cultures not only exacerbated the economic challenges faced by local populations, it also accelerated deterioration of local mountain ecosystems.

To address these issues, TMI developed comprehensive community-based projects to demonstrate the potential for diversifying local methods of subsistence through community-based tourism and protection of biodiversity hotspots. The program has grown in the past 15 years and Instituto de Montaña is now recognized as one of the leading NGOs in Peru.


The Appalachian Program focuses on developing an understanding and appreciation for the complex interaction between community, culture, and conservation through education and sustainable community initiatives.


The Mountain Institute has been involved in a variety of conservation and community programs in the Himalayas since 1987.

Among these programs is the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) program, in which TMI works with farmers in the Sacred Himalayan Landscape by teaching them to cultivate medical plants, having trained over 12,500 since 2001.[6]


  1. ^ Instituto de Montaña "Instituto de Montana" Check |url= value (help). Instituto de Montana. 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "Appalachian Program". The Mountain Institute. 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "Himalayan Program". The Mountain Institute. 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  4. ^ Arnold, Amy Donaldson (2013). "Mountain Institute". The West Virginia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  5. ^ Taylor-Ide, Daniel; Alton C. Byers III; J. Gabriel Campbell (1992). "Mountains, Nations, Parks, and Conservation". GeoJournal. 27 (1): 105–112. doi:10.1007/bf00150641. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Conserving the Sacred Himalayan Landscape: One Seed at a Time (PDF) (Technical report). The Mountain Institute. 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 

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