We are delighted to announce the completion of our 10-year Master Plan, which serves as the road map for improvement and expansion of our nature-based programs and visitor experiences across campus, with special focus on increasing nature access for all those in our community.
Our Master Plan was developed over the past year and involved reviewing and combining several years of significant self-assessment, community research, and input that began in 2015 with ELC’s participation in our first-ever external review through the federally-funded American Alliance of Museums’ Museum Assessment Program focused on Community Engagement.
The Master Plan’s purpose is to ensure all aspects of our Indian River Lagoon island-based property support our mission – to educate, inspire and empower all people to be active stewards of the environment and their own well-being – and ensure we serve target audiences in a distinctive and exemplary fashion while also improving our fiscal sustainability as a cultural institution far into the future. ELC’s location, our unwavering commitment to blending environmental education, science, and human and environmental health, and our ability to offer authentic and diverse nature experiences for all ages represent a few of our regional competitive advantages.
By building our distinctiveness through providing authentic native Florida and FL Friendly experiences relevant to daily life, sharing key iconic features on the Lagoon, providing high quality design and exceptional visitor experiences, our new master plan honors ELC’s original purpose and mission, diversifies our audience, and strengthens our bottom line.
ELC’s board, staff and volunteers worked closely with a professional master planning team led by nationally-acclaimed landscape architect firm Terra Design Studios of Pittsburgh, a firm that also developed the master plans for organizations including the Jacksonville Zoo and Naples Botanic Gardens. The complete professional master planning team included:strategic planner, Rick Daley of EMD Consulting, whose prior leadership positions included CEO of the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum and the Denver Botanic Gardens,Pam Fernandez of PNF Architecture & Design in Vero Beach and Jeff Babienko of bARC Architecture in Seattle, both green building architecture firmsenvironmental consultant, David Cox of David Cox Consulting, in Vero Beach and who was involved in the development of ELC’s campus at inception, andcivil engineer, David Knight of Knight, McGuire and Associates, of Vero Beach. Key new campus features include an iconic green building designed interpretive center; water-wise display garden; canopy walk; native plant gallery; family nature play zone; native butterfly screen house; pollinator garden, and more. The plan's goal is to have spatial balance between natural and human-made elements and continue to provide for nature-based education, recreation and solace.
As with all full campus master plans, ELC’s plan will be implemented in phases and is expected to involve multiple fundraising campaigns over the next 10 years, with the timing of each phase contingent on appropriate community support and fundraising successes. We are now working to confirm which elements will be included in the first phase of implementation and are in the preliminary discussion stages with the county planning department for appropriate next steps.
Stay tuned for more updates. We are excited to continue our steps forward in this process for ELC’s future as we continue to evolve to meet the needs of our community.