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September 2023 Message from Executive Director, Barb Schlitt Ford

"I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery - air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, 'This is what it is to be happy’.” Sylvia Plath

(Picture: Beehive Summit hike during August trip with my college age kids to Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine.)

Dear ELC Friends,

I hope that you had a chance to slow down a bit this summer, and take in this beautiful natural world that so deeply nourishes us at our core.

We thoroughly enjoyed serving the over 400 kids that participated in our summer camps, plus another few hundred teens and a few hundred preschoolers that participated in our Youth Environmental Leaders Corps teen activities and our Little Wonders Nature Playgroups this summer! It was a hot and busy few months, but we really did love it. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of the fabric of your child’s life!

August has been spent reviewing programs so we can make even more improvements going forward. We are in the middle of a deep dive into a campus Master Plan Refresh. We have been engaged in team building activities with our own staff and volunteers, and have also been utilizing our peaceful and spacious indoor and outdoor campus as a Retreat Center and teambuilding site for other groups, including local nonprofits. We have also been doing our post-summer campus cleanup (painting, organizing etc.) because we will be in our super busy season again before we know it. We are so excited about our pontoon dock rebuild, and it should be complete by November:)

We still have lots of things going on for every age child and adult in the next few Fall months. We can’t wait to bring back WinterGreen Night Lights in December as this is always a special community favorite. Our big annual fundraiser Mangroves and Moonlight is going to be quite a treat this year with a Cuban theme complete with a Miami Beach Cuban band (want to learn to mambo?), Cuban cuisine, full bar and Mojitos, all set in our spectacular pavilion venue - so mark your calendars for February 3! At this point, we are selling sponsorships for these two events with general admission tickets available in Oct/Nov. Thank you so much to all the sponsors who have already committed:) We are ¼ of the way there!

Our Lagoon Academy home school programs start next week: we have two age 7-12 groups (T or W) and a new 13 to 15-year-old program (W) plus a new 4-6 year old group (Th.). We have Little Wonders for the toddler age group on the third Thursdays and Saturdays every month. Walking Meditation in the garden every fourth Sunday at 11a and yoga every Friday at 1p. We also have archery classes! You can sign up for a bird walk out to the amazing Fellsmere Stick Marsh in Sept. We have a fabulous season of rotating nature-inspired art exhibits October through May. Our teen group meets after school and on the weekends and is really blossoming. There are a whole slate of activities planned out for the rest of the calendar year. Little Wonders and Y-ELC are free to participants as they are grant funded so make sure you reserve your spot.

Join us for a beach cleanup 9/16. We have lots of volunteer opportunities for touch tank, canoe paddling, pontoon guiding, arts & crafts, fundraising, helping in the welcome center, info tables, marketing materials distributions, admin help, Board/committees, or helping maintain the native plants on campus. Email to join the team!

I hope you have an enjoyable Labor Day weekend. We will be closed on Labor Day so our dedicated staff and volunteers can spend time with their families. (We are open every day of the year, except for six holidays). I hope you are enjoying that beautiful Blue/Super moon! We hope to see you soon.

In service and gratitude,


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