Center for Environmental Education

Madden Outdoor Education Center


Madden Outdoor Education Center is located just a mile and a half from the Taconic State Parkway and 6 miles from Rt. 84. Nestled on the backside of the mountain that separates Madden from the Taconic, it is worlds away from the noise and congestion one would expect in southeastern New York State. The facility has a very rich history dating back to the early 1800's. Currently, Madden sits on 120 acres of second and third generation forests. The landscape is primarily wooded and contains large rock outcroppings, old stone fences, charcoal pits, a historic cemetery, a pond, wetlands, a seasonal stream, and a rich diversity of wildlife and birds.

Madden was donated to BOCES in 1971 by John and Jesse Madden who had bought the property in 1928 as a summer and weekend place. After his retirement from the advertising business in 1966, John and Jesse lived on their property full time, and John was able to peruse his hobby of maple sugaring. At the height of his operation, his company, M & A Maple Syrup Company, produced up to 500 gallons of syrup a season.

Because of their love of the natural world, the Maddens donated their land to BOCES in the mid-1970's so that their property would be forever wild and, at the same time, serve as an educational facility. In the early years, John and Jesse personally welcomed the busloads of children who arrived for the day at Madden.

In addition to the creation of the outdoor education program, Walden-in-the-Woods, a special education program was located at the facility. John taught the teachers and students how to sugar and it was they who ran the sugaring operation until the early 1990's.

There are a number of structures on the property that enhance the natural surroundings. The main building is a colonial style barn that was built in the early 1800's. Inside you will not find any animals, but there is a conference center upstairs and a nature center downstairs. The Walden building, across from the barn, contains additional teaching space and staff residence. The present staff house was built on the site of the original home constructed by the early settlers. Also on the property is a three-sided shelter, affectionately called the Madden Marriott. Brave teachers and their students rest their heads here when the do an overnight program. John's sugar house and the modern sugaring house are currently used for storage.

For the past forty years, thousands of students have visited Madden. Today some of our visiting teachers and parent chaperones came to Madden as children and share their fond memories of the experioences learning outdoors. Madden is truly part of the psyche of our region. There is something about being there and feeling the rich history of the land that connects people to our natural world.

(Click here for directions to Madden) (Click here for a map to Madden)

For additional information, please contact:
Dorna L. Schroeter
Center for Environmental Education
Program Coordinator
(914) 248-2335

These pictures provide views of the buildings and the property at Madden.