Environmental Learning Center

Environmental Learning Center

What to Expect

There’s Something Around Every Corner

Native Habitat Campus

Our surroundings are especially beautiful because they provide natural habitat for birds, fish, crustaceans, and mammals of many kinds. The Indian River Lagoon, the waters that surround our campus, is home to more than 4,300 different species of plants and animals, 36 of which are endangered or rare. It is one of the most bio-diverse estuaries in North America and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is named an Estuary of National Significance.

Our 64-acre lagoon island campus is home to a diversity of native flora and fauna. Walk our boardwalk and mulched trails searching for the elusive Atala butterfly or help proliferate native plants in the area with a purchase from our Native Plant Nook.  Enjoy the peacefulness of the Indian River Lagoon and spot birds and dolphins while you sit on one of our docks.  No matter your nature interests you will find something at the ELC.

Welcome Center

Welcome Center

Check-in here first for admissions and all the exciting new things happening.

Monday – Friday 8 AM – 5 PM
Saturday 8 AM – 4 PM
Sunday 8 AM – 4 PM

Free for ELC Members and Children under age 2
$10 For Adults 12 And Up
$5 For Children 2-11 and Military

We have an all-terrain walker available to use

Did you know? ELC is a stop on the Treasure Coasts Kids Quest. Visit all the stops in Indian River and receive a prized treasure chest!

Nature Nook Gift Boutique

Find unique and eco-friendly gifts as well as educational toys, books, puzzles, naturalist gear, and ELC merchandise! Members get a 10% discount.

A gift from our Nature Nook is a thoughtful one and helps support our eco-education programs. Visit us today and see what wonderful surprises we have in stock.

Gift Store Interior
Pick A Plant

Native Plant Nook

Native plants filter stormwater runoff, prevent soil erosion, and provide food and water far better than any non-native plant. Why? Because these plants have grown and adapted to Florida’s climate over hundreds of years! They have had centuries to grow, reproduce, and adjust as needed to thrive in Florida’s unique and often harsh environment. So, the next time you pass by ELC, stop by to check out our native plants for sale! We know you’ll find something to make you and the butterflies happy!

Tidal Gallery

The Tidal Gallery is located inside our Welcome Center and features local nature-themed artwork rotating every month or so. All artwork is available for purchase with a portion of the proceeds going back to ELC.

This room is also available to rent for small groups.

Tidal Gallery
Gallery Opening

Lagoon Room

This room doubles as an art gallery and meeting space. When the room is not in use, feel free to view the monthly art exhibits on display and for purchase. Make plans to attend an Artist Meet & Greet event.

Discovery Station

A visit to our Discovery Station and you’ll find air-conditioned nature space that is home to the largest brackish water aquarium in Indian River County! A truly multi-sensory experience, the 145-gallon Touch Tank lets you get up close with some of the marine animals that occupy the Indian River Lagoon. Three other aquariums, an indoor active beehive, and many other interpretive exhibits and interactive displays will keep you occupied for a while. Our campus is always changing and we’re always bringing in new programs and activities so check back often to see what new things are happening!

Large Aquarium
Imagination Station

Imagination Station

Bring the littles to our Imagination Station for tons of outdoor unstructured play! Get dirty cooking up something in the Mud Kitchen, or water the plants from the Rain Barrel. Create your own magical day using our natural elements. Give a performance on our tiny stage, climb our tree stumps, and read a book from our Book Nook. Let your imagination run wild!

Interpretive Trails

Sustainability Walk – A quick walk around our pond and you’ll learn how to become more sustainable and why it is so important.

George’s Trail West – A wooden boardwalk leading back to our greenhouse and native plant nursery and then onto the Canoe Dock and Fort Mangrove. This trail will loop you through mangroves, over water, and back towards our buildings with interpretive signage along the way.

George’s Trail East – Leads you over by our osprey nest and back into the boardwalk. Tucked away in the mangrove forest you’ll discover George’s Blind. This is what it feels like to be hiding in the mangroves like a bird would be. Heading NE on the trail, you’ll get a different bird’s eye view from George’s Perch. Venture to the top and you will get a 360’ panoramic view of the mangrove forest so thick you can barely see the trail below.

Elc Interpretive Trail
Boy On Nature Trail

Playscape & Pavilion Trail

Playscape & Pavilion Trail – This grassy area has both open space and shaded space. Build a fort from tree branches, dig in the dirt, make noise, run free! The Schidel Education & Event Pavilion is located here. This area is great for large festivals, stage performances, ceremonies, and weddings.

Rainwater Garden

ELC is leading by example with our Rain Garden, showing the sustainable way of managing stormwater. Here, we have transformed this area from an ugly stormwater drain to a beautiful garden helping to mitigate the loss of natural wetlands by creating habitat for many species of animals.

Rain Garden
Native Plant Garden

Native Plant Garden

What is a native plant you ask? Simply put, a plant that is ‘native’ has been historically documented within state boundaries prior to European contact. Florida native plants provide the best habitat for Florida’s beautiful and diverse wildlife. Whether you love butterflies, birds, or bottlenose dolphins, all species depend on the services performed by native plants.

Atala Meditation Garden

The rare Atala butterfly was once thought to be extinct due to early settlers overharvesting its host plant, the Coontie, for starch. The popularity of the plant now in Florida landscapes has brought them back. You may spot a few on your next walk.

Atala Meditation Garden
Ospray

Birding

ELC’s campus provides an excellent habitat for Florida’s native and migrant birds. As you boat or stroll along the Indian River Lagoon shoreline, keep your eyes open for osprey, pelicans, terns, kingfishers, herons, and egrets. These species can be found near the estuary as adaptations like long legs, specialized bills, and polarized vision help them catch aquatic prey. As you explore ELC’s trails and boardwalks, look and listen for cardinals, pileated woodpeckers, black and white warblers, eastern phoebes, and blue jays.

Ospreys are frequently spotted at the ELC and can be seen circling and calling in the sky above our grounds or hunting within the estuary bordering our island-campus. With two nesting platforms, plenty of green space, and ample fish in the surrounding waters, Osprey life at ELC is pretty good! Take a closer look at our osprey nest

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Native Plant Nursery

Native plants provide food and shelter for native animals, stability to habitats, and biodiversity.

Potted Native Plants
Gopher tortoise

Please note:

Don’t forget to look under your vehicle before leaving our campus and other native habitat areas as small animals may take shelter from the heat there while you are away. There are several shaded picnic areas around campus. Please take any trash with you. Pack it in, pack it out. We are a pet and smoke-free campus. Please do not bring single-use plastics, balloons, glitter, or styrofoam-type products on campus. Thank you for your environmental stewardship!