I am delighted to share with you our new newsletter which we will be sending out on a quarterly basis, beginning in January, to our members, family and friends.
I know, November to January does not equal a quarter, but we've been so excitedly busy working to improve and create new nature-rich, educational and recreational experiences for you and our community that we just can't wait until January to share it all with you.
Truly, though, I also wanted to take this time, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, to thank you for your interest in and your support of the environment, of humanity, of our work at the Environmental Learning Center, and of the betterment of our community - not just here but across the globe.
The poet Gary Snyder wrote, "Nature is not a place to visit. It is home." Like all species on this planet, this beautiful natural world is home to each one of us, regardless of where we live, our age, our sex, our education, our profession, our passions, our struggles - whatever socioeconomic background we are from. It will take a community-wide and cultural-wide effort to ensure this beautiful home is a healthy and safe and joy-filled place for all to live. And this will require a re-envisioning and re-inventing of environmental education and conservation efforts.
Now entering our 30th year in 2018, we at ELC are excited to share with you our own evolution in this effort. It is our hope and our goal that each individual we encounter will grow in closeness with and become more capable of caring for their surrounding world - empowering stewardship of the environment and stewardship of their own physical and psychological well-being at the same time. Ultimately, it is - and we are - all connected.
I hope you enjoy our new newsletter and are as thrilled as we are about all we are up to. We welcome your thoughts, and of course your support in whatever way you are able - through membership, giving, participating in our programs or just spreading the word. And we certainly hope to see you on campus soon.
We are collaboratively planning the future vision of ELC
We have made significant progress over the past seven months in developing ELC's new Master Plan, articulating the future vision of campus over the next ten to fifteen years so that we can continue to offer experiences and programming that fulfill our mission and best address current and projected future community interests and needs while operating in a fiscally sustainable way. Working closely with Terra Design Studios - a firm that also developed the Master Plans for organizations including the Jacksonville Zoo and Naples Botanical Garden - a committee of ELC board and staff members have conducted numerous focus groups with staff, volunteers, members, board members, donors, community partners and others to map out ELC's bright future. All this input has also been combined with community data gathered through our participation in the American Alliance of Museums' Museum Assessment Program external review and we continue to implement recommendations from the program report focused on best practices. Our ELC Board and ELC Foundation Board and Investment Committee members recently came together to review and discuss the Master Plan progress made and we look forward to sharing more exciting information with you soon!
Front row, left to right: ELC Board Chairman Bill Clemens, Rob Tench, Alice Cole, Alex MacWilliam IV, Janet Leger and Bob Prindiville. Back row, left to right: ELC Board Vice Chairman Don Barr, ELC Foundation Board Chairman Todd Fennell, Bill Friesell, Hadyn Cole, ELC Treasurer Jorge Fernandez, ELC Foundation Investment Committee Chair John Lowenberg Sr., Dave Morgan, Dr. Tom Spackman, Bill Stewart Esq., ELC Board Secretary Jim Sourbeer and Master Plan Committee Chair Tim Buhl. (Missing from photo: ELC Foundation Treasurer Bob McCabe, Cindy O'Dare, ELC Foundation Secretary Chuck Pollard, Colleen Ryan and Chip Watson.)
What a fantastically fun-filled Half-Haunted Halloween!
Nearly 400 family visitors of all ages were on campus - many dressed in costume - identifying spooky night noises, practicing spider web building and viewing spiders up close, participating in pumpkin balancing contests, fort-building, and more activities outdoors that beautiful evening. Over 120 canoe trips through holiday-lit mangrove tunnels were run in just a few short hours too! Our staff and volunteers clearly had just as much fun as those who visited. And with our updated admissions policy - with our goal to increase access to nature and educationally rich experiences for all - more than one third of those who attended participated free by simply showing proof of financial need (EBT, Medicaid, SNAP or TANF card or Free & Reduced Lunch Letter) at the door. We are very happy knowing we are able to provide such healthy, joy-filled and educational experiences for families and multiple generations to participate in together. Click here for more information on our admissions policy and campus activities.
Spreading environmental education research knowledge to others
Join us Sat, Nov 25th, for our next EcoTALK, our monthly series
Have your next event at ELC - great for you & the environment!
Our 64-acre campus of indoor and outdoors spaces and activities is a perfect setting for your family gathering, corporate retreat, or holiday party and ELC is committed to celebrating and working earth-friendly style. There are a myriad of options to choose from to make your event both memorable and green. From outdoor adventures on canoes or pontoon boat to tree-top level meeting rooms with AV equipment, we have the ability to meet your individual group's needs. We even offer sustainable and organic catering options and are committed to conservation and healthy living in our building design, recycling, composting practices and more. We're proud to say we've hosted a number of birthday parties, club meetings, board retreats, and family reunions onsite already and we hope to host yours next! Click here to learn more about your options and our commitment to sustainability.
Come to our WinterGreen Night Lights Celebration, Sat, Dec 2nd
Connect with nature, connect with family, meet new friends and experience a beautiful lagoon island at night during the magic of the holidays! Join us for a joyous evening of holiday lights, blue grass music, youth choirs, fun games, stargazing with the Brevard Astronomical Society, holiday nature crafts, and canoeing in the lagoon under mangrove tunnels of lights. General admissions fees apply, though free with ELC membership and for those showing proof of financial need (EBT, Medicaid, SNAP or TANF card or Free & Reduced Lunch Letter) at the door. Click here for more information and a full schedule of the evening.
Our new "Mack Whiting" Nature Playscape will open Sat, Dec 9th!
Thanks to the support of the Macauley and Helen Dow Whiting Foundation and the Indian River Community Foundation we will be opening a new children's wild play area in an underutilized part of our campus Sat, Dec 9th! The space - what we envision as the base for a larger, more extensive wild nature play area sometime in future - will be a place for open-ended free play with natural materials including fort-building, make believe, stump-jumping, fairy house creation, sandbox with diggers (including one ADA accessible), dry river bed, and more. This multi-generational, family area will be complete with ADA-accessible picnic tables, benches, areas of sun and shade, and opportunities for children of a broad range of ages and abilities to interact in 'wilder' nature together with their adult caregivers. We will continue to add elements to enrich the space over the coming months, but know you will be delighted with it even at its opening! (Note, we are also continuing to hang spider swings around campus for people to stop and stay awhile on and have found adults just as much as children enjoying them.) See below preview photos of our work in progress.
Sharing our science education practices with centers across the country
Sign up for our Golfin' for the Lagoon Fundraiser Golf Tournament, Feb 26th
We need your time, energy and talent! Volunteer Open House - Thu, Dec 7th, 3 - 5pm
Are you interested in putting your skills, time and passion towards fulfilling your personal goals while helping us fulfill our mission? At our Volunteer Open House, explore the many volunteer opportunities we have - in education, boat programs, animal care, admissions, landscaping, conservation, communications, administration, and more. Come learn more without feeling you need to make a commitment! In addition to many other benefits, volunteers participate in educationally immersive training taught by ELC staff and representatives of Pelican Island Audubon Society and University of Florida IFAS' Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory. Click here for more information on the Open House or contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Nancy Puglio, at email@example.com or 772-589-5050 x107. You can also sign up now to be a volunteer by clicking here.
Did you know about our partnership with FL Dept of Health Indian River County?
The Florida Department of Health of Indian River County and ELC have partnered to conduct a community-wide survey to assess the walkability (and in part, bikeability) of Indian River County (IRC). This collaboration is a product of the 2016-2019 IRC Community Health Improvement Plan, bringing together community partners to address the greatest health concerns facing our community. In addition to the need for a healthy natural environment, the obesity and overweight epidemic, and the chronic diseases that stem from this growing problem, are a major issue in our area. And these environmental and human health issues are intertwined. Walkable and bikeable communities are healthier for both our human and non-human residents and for the environment as a whole: actions that reduce fuel and electric use and pollutants released into our air and water can simultaneously improve our physical and psychological well-being. This community-wide survey will help identify barriers to walking and physical activity throughout IRC, identify specific geographic locations to prioritize for improvement first, and inform the creation of new policies for creating health-friendly communities for all. Please consider taking the survey by clicking here and spread the word to friends who are IRC residents.
Did you know ELC has been working with the Health Dept and a number of other agencies in our area over the past one and a half years to complete the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and 2016-2019 Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP)? Our Executive Director, Molly Steinwald, served on the Advisory Council for the CHNA and CHIP, and now serves on the CHIP Environmental Health Working Group, while our Naturalist, Sarah Christopherson, serves on the Healthy Weight Working Group. It is critical that nature-focused groups serve integral roles in these initiatives and it’s exciting that ELC is playing a lead role in this one! Stay tuned for more joint initiatives with the Health Department!
Announcing our 2018 Adventures in Learning Lecture Series
Through our newly revamped Adventures in Learning Lecture Series, hear and talk with a broad range of nationally and internationally recognized experts on cutting edge issues impacting human relationships with their environment. Our 2018 lineup of speakers is certain to be thought-provoking, entertaining and inspiring - preview below. Click here for complete information about the series and speakers and to register online. Thank you to the generous support of the Kahle Foundation in making this series possible.
Sun, Jan 28: Angela Hanscom, Pediatric Occupational Therapist and Author of Balanced & Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children. Angela Hanscom, Founder of TimberNook, an international award-winning outdoor children's school, addresses the effects of restricted movement and lack of outdoor playtime on overall sensory and motor development in children. She is a frequent contributor to The Washington Post, regularly featured on NPR education blogs, and has been named a "Hometown Hero" by Glamour Magazine for her work with reconnecting children with nature in education settings.
Sun, Feb 18: Melissa Groo, International League of Conservation Photographers Fellow, Outdoor Photographer Magazine Columinist and Audubon Magazine Contributing Editor. Melissa Groo's nature photos are often featured in and on the covers of Smithsonian, Audubon, Outdoor Photographer, National Wildlife and other news outlets. Recipient of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) 2017 Vision Award, she also leads NANPA's Ethics Committee and is Contributing Editor to Audubon, focused on ethics. Melissa is one of the handful of female top conservation photographers in the world.
Sun, Mar 18: Jenna Cramer, Vice President for Transformation and Community at the Green Building Alliance and Facilitator of the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative. Jenna Cramer is a green building and communities expert focused on transforming human habitat (where we live, work and play) to be environmentally and financially sustainable and socially equitable. One of her significant achievements was the development of the School Sustainability Culture Program, a learning community among schools, school districts, and community partners focused on environmental and social sustainability values and actions.
We are offering more pontoon cruises and canoe trips on the Indian River Lagoon
Enjoy both an exciting and relaxing cruise, filled with environmental education focused on our precious Indian River Lagoon, past Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and mangrove islands where birds, manatees, and dolphins gather. Our Naturalist Guides will tell you all about the wildlife you will see and provide you binoculars for a closer view. Click here for more information and to register online. And for private rentals of the boat, contact Margaret Kearney, Guest Services Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 772-589-5050 x105.
Join us for Special Sunset Holiday Lights Canoe Trips!
- Wed, Nov 29th, 5pm to 6pm
- Thu, Nov 30th, 5pm to 6pm
- Fri, Dec 1st, 5pm to 6pm
Or participate in our standard canoe trip experiences, guided by an ELC naturalist through our shaded mangrove tunnels and hidden-away favorite places on the Lagoon.
Click here to review the full schedule and reserve your trip.
Continuing to work to increase nature access for all
We have just added eight all-terrain fat-tire walkers - each with a storage compartment and built-in seat to stop and rest along the way - to our campus offerings. Like our all-terrain fat-tire wheelchairs, these are free for check-out for anyone needing them during their visit. With a fleet now of eight walkers and eight wheelchairs, not only can multi-generational and multi-ability families experience nearly all the wonders of our 64-acre wild nature campus together, but now large groups of individuals with limited mobility - from assisted living facilities and other spaces - can too! Please spread the word. For more information, contact our Guest Services Director, Margaret Kearney, at 772-589-5050 x105 or email@example.com. Thank you to the Indian River Community Foundation, TCPalm 12 Days of Christmas, and individual private donors for making all these a reality.
Celebrate our 30th Year at our annual fundraising gala on Sat, April 7th!
Please help us continue to grow by making a year-end donation
Today we are launching our 2017 year-end campaign. As we raise environmental stewards and community spirits, we also need to raise funds to support our many nature-based events, programs and services for people of all walks of life. This year, we have set a goal of raising $80,000 by Dec 31st to support and expand our work.
Would you be willing to make a special year end donation of $75, $100, $500 or more? Any amount you can afford will help us reach this goal and help us sustain our programs for the community. Perhaps a planned giving gift or a stock donation? We simply cannot do all we do without you. Your support will make a lasting impact on the future of our environment and the lives of the children, adults and families we serve annually.
Please click the button below to make a donation online today, mail your check to Environmental Learning Center, 255 Live Oak Dr, Vero Beach, FL 32963, or contact our Development Director, John Corapi, at 772-589-5050 x103 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss needs and opportunities.
Thank you as always for your continued support and friendship. We sincerely look forward to seeing you soon!
From the Desk of the Executive Director:
Molly Steinwald, MS
With Tremendous Guidance and Support from our:
ELC BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Alex Mac William IV
ELC FOUNDATION BOARD
John Lowenberg, Sr.
Tom Spackman, MD
Alma Lee Loy
John D. Orcutt, Jr.
Donald C. Proctor
Gregory W. Smith
Helen E. Stone
Our mission is to educate, inspire and empower all people to be active stewards of the environment and their own well-being.
The Environmental Learning Center is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 . Your admission, memberships & donations are important to continuing our mission. Please join or give today!
Tuesday - Friday: 10 am - 4 pm
Saturday: 9 am - 4 pm
Sunday: 1 pm - 4 pm
Phone: (772) 589-5050
ELC is a Smoke-Free campus.
Service Dogs only please.
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255 Live Oak Drive, Vero Beach, FL 32963.
Located at the western base of the Wabasso Bridge on the 510 Causeway.