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April Message from the Executive Director

"It is not what we have that will make us a great nation; it is the way in which we use it." Teddy Roosevelt

On April 1, I celebrate my fifth anniversary leading this impactful and dynamic organization! 



What a lot we have accomplished together! Our attendance has more than doubled from 12,000 annually to nearly 30,000 per year.  (Click here to read the detailed message in its entirety.) 


We have built a strong team of staff, volunteers, donors, sponsors, and Board Members. These fine folks are some of the most dedicated professionals I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. 


We gave this special campus a much needed sprucing up. We replaced roofs, stairs, boardwalks, docks, and a/c units; renovated the aquariums, exhibits, and restrooms; added an incredible pavilion; removed a cottage that had black mold; and created (established) a beautiful lagoonside picnic area complete with a native plant walk and mural fence around the maintenance area. We created (constructed) the Sustainability Walk around the pond and added interpretive signage and two rotating art galleries, as well as outdoor art features around the property. We installed new signage on 510 and on campus. We also replaced our pontoon boat engine, canvas top, and PA system, and updated our worn-out canoes and kayaks with a brand-new fleet, including paddles and life vests. In our Imagination Station children’s play area, we built a popular mud kitchen and added a little free library. We created new trails and a native plant nursery. We restored two osprey perches and added two live osprey cams, acquired a new commercial lawn mower, and rebuilt our fire pit. It takes a lot of hard work to keep this campus looking good for our guests; we love doing it. 


This focused team of professionals developed and continues to refine our vision, culture, brand, strategic and business plans, case for support, employee and operations handbooks, and our incredible Master Plan. 


Our core programs still revolve around fostering environmental stewardship in youth.  Our school district programs, as well as our school break camps, are thriving. Schools travel from as far away as Winter Park and Miami to attend our hands-on, feet-wet educational experiences. Our homeschool Lagoon Academy has been a phenomenal success, as is our Little Wonders nature playgroup, and our teen group Youth Environmental Leaders Corps (Y-ELC) is flourishing. We work with many children’s organizations and schools in the community, providing financial scholarships to any group or individual in need. 


Our adult programs have blossomed. Our speaker series is well attended. We have wellness offerings of Tai Chi, traditional yoga, chair yoga, walking meditation, forest therapy, etc., because the interconnection between a healthy environment and healthy humans is undeniable. 


Our EcoTours via pontoon, canoe, kayak, or walking trails are engaging and restorative for all ages. Our pontoon tour was voted the best on the Treasure Coast. We were also recently voted the best tourist destination on the Treasure Coast! 


Our ELC community connections are vast. We partner with businesses, nonprofits, other environmental organizations, service clubs, Chambers, and faith-based groups. Our membership and visibility in the community have certainly grown. We established and now facilitate the Nonprofit Leaders Coalition for IRC (IndianRiverCares.org) as well as the IRC Environmental Leaders Coalition. We allow nonprofits to use our meeting space free of charge. Collaboration is very important to us. 


None of these accomplishments would have happened without YOU! Your support means the world! Literally.  Our work is more essential than ever. People need a place for renewal, and a place to learn about restoring our natural world. We strive to empower humans to be active stewards of the environment and their own well-being.


We are so thankful for each one of you, our ELC family members. We are excited about the future and believe ELC will continue to be considered a significant driving force for improved quality of life in Indian River County. 


We need more support to keep pace with all of the additional offerings for you, and our community.  If you can be more involved, please connect with me to make that happen. Participate, join, volunteer, donate, and share - there is a way for everyone to be part of this exciting and rewarding work. Barb@DiscoverELC.org


We hope to see you soon at your ELC. 


Be well, 

Barb 

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