Our Story

Deep in the heart of Pisgah National Forest sits the Cradle of Forestry in America — the birthplace of modern forestry in the United States.  

Biltmore Forest School with Men on Horseback

The Biltmore Forest School

Carl Schenck established the Biltmore Forest School on a portion of the Biltmore Estate as the first school for forestry education in the US — using abandoned farm buildings as classrooms, offices, and “dorms.” Many graduates of the Biltmore Forest School went on to become the first generation of American professional foresters. The schoolhouse on the current Cradle of Forestry grounds is a replica of this original structure.

Pisgah National Forest was established

A large portion of the Biltmore Estate had been sold to the US Government after the death of George Vanderbilt, and in 1916 it was officially designated as Pisgah National Forest. Part of the stone posts from this photo can still be seen near the FIND Outdoors headquarters in Pisgah Forest, NC (near Brevard).

Old Pisgah National Forest Entrance Sign
Cradle of Forestry in America Sign

The Cradle of Forestry

In 1968 Congress set aside 6,500 acres within the area that Schenck used for the Biltmore Forest School to establish The Cradle of Forestry in America and thereby “preserve, develop, and make available to this and future generations the birthplace of forestry and forestry education in America.”


In 1972, our organization, the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association (CFAIA) was established to help the US Forest Service with operations at the Cradle of Forestry Visitor Center, specifically retail.

First Cradle of Forestry Building

Expanding our Reach

By the 1980s, successful operations with the Cradle of Forestry paved way for additional collaborations with the US Forest Service. The CFAIA expanded to include Visitor Center & Campground Management as far as Texas, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Focusing on Education

An addendum was made to the original mission statement of the CFAIA: “and to offer educational, recreational, and interpretive opportunities about forest and water resources.”  With that addition, CFAIA added educational programs to help educate site visitors on the importance of our public lands, and the significance of these sites.  

The Natural Inquirer: Students

Natural Inquirer Joins the Team

The Natural Inquirer came on board in 2004 as a new partner project with the US Forest Service to provide the public with free scientific education materials for students. Our organization works with the US Forest Service to produce and distribute these publications across the globe.

Leading the Southeast in Outdoor Recreation

Shortly after 2010, the organization was awarded the bid to manage campgrounds and visitor centers in North Georgia, including the scenic Anna Ruby Falls and Brasstown Bald. With those additions to our portfolio, by the late 2010s CFAIA was operating 20+ sites in three different states.

Brasstown Bald

Rebranding from CFAIA to FIND Outdoors

As CFAIA had grown tremendously in reach and purpose, it had also outgrown the original name. The Cradle of Forestry in America would always be the foundation of our story, but it was no longer the only focus of our mission. It was time to redefine ourselves.

We partnered with a branding agency, Creative+, who helped us redefine our identity. In 2020 our new brand was launched: FIND Outdoors, Forest-Inspired Nature Discovery — it is both who we are and what we do. Watch the full brand launch video below.

We help people FIND Outdoors!

We maintain and operate outdoor recreation, education, and camping facilities across the southeast and beyond, to help you connect with nature.

Through this connection, we hope to instill good stewardship of natural resources, so that together, we can preserve our forests for future generations. Through Forest-Inspired Nature Discovery, we help people FIND Outdoors.

Give Back

Our story is rooted in education about the forest. Our passion is to help people become inspired. Our goal is to help people connect with nature. Our drive is to help people learn through discovery. Through forest-inspired nature discovery, we help people FIND Outdoors.