Environmental Quality Protection, Beautification

Environmental Learning Center, Inc.

aka ELC

Vero Beach, FL

Mission

To educate, inspire and empower all people to be active stewards of the environment and their own well-being.

Ruling Year

1989

Executive Director

Ms. Barbara Ford

Main Address

255 Live Oak Dr

Vero Beach, FL 32963 USA

Keywords

environment, education, nature center, health and wellness

EIN

65-0064129

 Number

1319435231

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

Natural History, Natural Science Museums (A56)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

The Mission of the Environmental Learning Center is "Educate, Inspire and Empower all people to be active stewards of the Environment and their own well-being". In this increasingly digital age—where individuals of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds are spending unprecedented time in front of screens—it is apparent that, while people are more electronically connected, they are more socially isolated as a result of less in-person contact with others. With increased urbanization, communities are recognizing the growing need for safe, nature-rich spaces with basic amenities where people can gather to celebrate life together. Today humans control nearly half of all the energy available to support life on earth; the United States consumes 24% of the world's resources to serve just 5% of its population. The impact we have on animals and plants, on inland waterways and oceans,on air and land is so great that we are endangering the nature on which our lives depend.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Education at the ELC

Where we work

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Amount of at-risk youth scholorships provided for Environmental Education

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

At-risk youth

Related program

Education at the ELC

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context notes

Measured in Dollar$ amounts

Number of hours of Environmental Education programming administered

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Related program

Education at the ELC

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Hours of volunteer service

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

General/Unspecified

Related program

Education at the ELC

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

On the national level the construction of nature centers proliferated during the U.S. environmental movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s. This growth was spurred by such events as the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the Cuyahoga River fire and the Santa Barbara oil spill. The citizens of the United States became increasingly concerned about the urgency and impact of environmental issues. This fueled the creation of several regulatory agencies and legislation such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act. These agencies and regulatory acts are constantly under siege, especially in recent years These concerns that were the catalyst for change in environmental policy are as relevant today as they were at the beginning of the environmental movement. Providing the forum to research, discuss and investigate these important guidelines of ecological policy are at the heart of the Environmental Learning Centers impact in the community. Like other cultural organizations, nature centers and specifically The Environmental Learning Center evolved to meet the changing needs of their communities; in addition to educating people about the environment, they fill the role of a community gathering space. Healthy social interaction is not only good for people, but ultimately good for the environment too, because healthy people are able to act as environmental stewards. Understanding our natural world and our relationship to it is the first step in reawakening our intimate connection to the earth and how vital it is to our very existence. Promoting that understanding is at the core of the Environmental Learning Centers mission of enriching individuals’ relationship with nature. Our need to interface with nature is fundamental. Research on this topic is growing, and the science is making clear that there is a strong correlation not only between an individual’s immersion in a natural setting and his/her environmental values and actions, but also on his or her physical and psychological health. Recent studies show that connecting with nature can: o Reduce stress, anxiety and depression o Reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder o Increase cognitive function and brain performance o Increase fitness levels and build active, healthy bodies o Reduce symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s o Reduce behavioral problems in prison inmates o Provide periods of respite in a hurried, technology-filled world o Provide hands-on experiences showing why we need natural resources for survival

The Environmental Learning Center promotes an understanding of the inherited need for stewardship of the earth's precious resources. "Nature Centers in Local Communities: Perceived Values", is a 2016 national study conducted by Matthew Browning PhD of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , in association with the Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA). The study examined the relationships between nature centers and the people living around them – including both people who visit and people who don’t visit but still perceive value in a nature center existing in their community, Of the nearly 2000 nature centers that exist across the United States the Vero Beach Environmental Learning Center (ELC) was one of sixteen nature centers chosen to partake in this peer reviewed study. In each community detailed surveys were conducted including 12,000 randomly selected citizens within a 20-mile radius of the given nature center. There were four major values identified by respondents regarding their local nature Centers: 1. Environmental Connection • Encourages environmental behavior • Provides wildlife habitat and/or ecosystem services • Increases environmental awareness • Provides a place for children to learn • Provides access to nature 2. Leisure Provision • Provides a place for physical exercise • Provides a place for retreat, restoration, and relaxation • Provides a safe place for outdoor recreation 3. Community Resilience • Contributed to the local economy • Develops a sense of pride in the local community • Makes the community a more beautiful place 4. Civic Engagement • Links people to political action • Helps bring people together from different races/ethnicities • Provides the local community a place to gather The Association of Nature Center Administrators States, “nature centers bring environments and people together under the guidance of trained professionals to experience and develop relationships with nature.” At ELC, we know firsthand the ways that nature helps us. Every day, we see the benefits that people receive from their relationship with nature. Our mission is “to educate, inspire and empower all people to be active stewards of the environment and their own well-being.” We are committed to the mission of enriching and expanding the ways in which people relate and interact with nature. Through

With an education staff of six full time environmental educators and multiple waterway captains and guides the ELC is able to provide a complete and well designed array of programs, events, and education experiences for top of class environmental education experiences. Holiday Break Camps The ELC offers full day camps for holiday breaks to keep your kids active and engaged. Our hands-on environmental education activities allow campers to unplug from typical school life and discover new interests in the outdoor world. Summer Camps Each summer, the Environmental Learning Center continues to offer our most beloved camp activities. We offer immersive experiences for children entering kindergarten through 8th grade that are hands-on, feet-wet, and encourage outdoor exploration using different scientific tools on the ELC’s campus. Little Wonders Program (18 months – 4 years Old) This type of play: supports creativity and problem solving, improves eyesight, enhances cognitive abilities, improves academic performance, improves nutrition, increases connection with nature, improves social relations, reduces stress and anxiety, reduces attention deficit (ADD) symptoms, improves self-discipline, increases physical activity and much more! Lagoon Days (4th & 5th Graders) The theme for Lagoon Days is Interconnections. Lagoon Days Goals • To teach students about the natural world through hands-on learning adventures in the outdoors, building on what they learned at the ELC in 1st and 3rd grades. • To demonstrate the importance of interconnections in the environment – everything fits together, interacts, and is interconnected like puzzle pieces. • To cultivate an appreciation for the Indian River Lagoon, one of North America’s most diverse estuaries. • To develop a sense of stewardship for the earth’s resources and learn how individual actions directly affect the environment. Junior Interpreters (Middle School) • Learn about local animals and plants. • Lead public educational programs. • Have the opportunity to serve as senior camp counselors over the summer. • Participate in our annual events like EcoFest, Half Haunted Halloween, & Winter Green Night Lights. • Take part in community clean-ups, volunteer opportunities, and trips to local recreational areas in an effort to gain a greater awareness for the issues facing Florida. Green Teen Volunteers (High School) ELC GreenTeen! high school volunteers have the opportunity to build a resume, earn community service hours for school, make new friends, learn all about conservation and the local environment, and have fun while helping educate campers and ELC visitors about wildlife and the local ecosystem. Paid Summer High School Internships Career Training *We are pleased to offer a 7-week paid internship for highly motivated Indian River County students from low-income families* COLLEGE INTERNSHIP IN EDUCATION & CONSERVATION The most extensive environmental programing anywhere.

The Environmental Learning Center firmly adheres to the highest standards providing high-quality environmental education programs that succeed in moving values and changing behaviors in the direction of sustainability and environmental conservation. Effective, relevant evaluation offers a way to improve our education goals and helps us to meet our objectives. Stakeholders expect and receive reviews and results oriented reporting on a timely basis. Our procedures are outcome-based and adheres to accepted practices for measurable outcomes. Our targets are as follows. • Awareness– to help constituents acquire an awareness and sensitivity to the total environment and its allied problems. • Knowledge– to help constituents gain a variety of experience in, and acquire a basic understanding of, the environment and its associated problems. • Attitudes– to help constituents acquire a set of values and feelings of concern for the environment and the motivation for actively participating in environmental improvement and protection. • Skills– to help constituents acquire the skills for identifying and solving environmental problems. • Participation– to provide constituents with an opportunity to be actively involved at all levels in working toward resolution of environmental problems. Measurement Instrument Pre/ Post surveys and questionnaires as well as personal student interview and case studies. Interview Student responses reveal a higher appreciation of natural values. Journals are encouraged and students make written reference to changes they feel have occurred in their own beliefs, attitudes, or values. General observation notes by staff and volunteers is a secondary tool often employed. ELC is mindful of obtaining necessary clearances and permission before employ methods. ELC Considers the needs and sensitivities of the respondents and confirms that data collectors are adequately trained and will operate in an objective, unbiased style. ELC attempts to reduce disruption wherever possible to the ongoing effort.

The Environmental Learning Center (ELC) was founded in 1988 by a group of environmentally conscious pioneers from the Pelican Island Audubon Society, who lived in our community and cherished the nature that thrives in the Indian River Lagoon. Through the support of our community, we are able to build our educational nature learning and stewardship programs and bring enriching opportunities to all, including those with limited means and access to nature. For over 30 years, the ELC has worked to educate, inspire and empower all people to be active stewards of the environment and their own well-being. Our 64-acre, lagoon-island campus includes native plant gardens, miles of boardwalk through mangrove forests, kayaks and canoe rentals, a children’s play area and many other amenities that allow people to unplug, discover and connect with our environment. In 2019 the Environmental Learning Center was able to provide: • top notch environmental education programs enlightening more than 15,700 visitors in 2019. • 161 school field trips for 2,806 Indian River County students. • ten high school and college interns’ participation in a “Green” training program that expanded their knowledge and taught them about career opportunities in environmental fields. • six major community-wide events, bringing the community together for hands-on experiences. • scholarships supporting participation in educational programs for individuals with limited income. • expansion of daily hours— we are now open seven days a week to meet guest needs.

External Reviews

Awards

Certified Nature Explore Classroom 2015

Arbor Day Foundation

Green Globes Certification 2010

GREEN GLOBE

Affiliations & Memberships

Association of Fundraising Professionals - Member 2011

Photos

Financials

Environmental Learning Center, Inc.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Yes

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Yes

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Yes

Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Gender

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Disability

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Diversity Strategies

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We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
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We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
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We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
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We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
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We have a diversity committee in place
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We have a diversity manager in place
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We have a diversity plan
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We use other methods to support diversity