Campus Holiday Schedule
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day
Our office will be closed, but the campus will be open to enjoy the grounds.
Remember that the ELC is open 7 days a week
Mon.-Fri. 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Sat. and Sun. 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Just think of the ELC as an extension of your own backyard!
December Greetings from ELC
Barbara Schlitt Ford
Executive Director
Holiday Happenings
WinterGreen Night Lights
December 2 - 4 and 9 - 11 | 5:30 - 8:30 PM

Admission is $15 for adults and children registered for guided canoe tours.
$10 general admission for adults and children without canoe tours.
Purchase your s’mores packages at the bonfire: $5 for a package of 2 s’mores.
While registration is suggested for canoe tours, walk-ins are welcome.
Join us as the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) in partnership with AAG Live welcomes the holiday season with its annual WinterGreen Night Lights! Explore the ELC’s 64 acre Lagoon Island campus as it is transformed into an enchanted mangrove forest professionally illuminated with endless holiday lights!
Crafts, Music and More!
Enjoy free kid crafts, music, festive photo opportunities and food concessions. ELC’s WinterGreen Night Lights features activities for folks of all ages!

Holiday-Lit Canoe Rides
Adults and children ages 4 and up will experience the mangrove tunnels by canoes guided by ELC paddlers as you glide under mangrove trees lit with holiday lights.

Stroll the Campus
Explore our newly renovated Discovery Station with its always popular Touch Tank and the beauty of our aquariums. Enjoy two galleries full of local nature artwork, all available for purchase
(Mangrove Magic Tour Video)
Shop for the Holidays
Shop the Nature Nook Gift Eco-Boutique for sustainable gift items including puzzles, books, ornaments, clothing, accessories, décor and more! Gift wrapping will be available for all of your holiday purchases on December 4th only. Gift certificates will be available for the Nature Nook purchases, memberships, kayak rentals and pontoon boat rides!

Bonfire S'mores
Make your own s’mores while relaxing by our cozy bonfire and enjoy a diverse array of holiday music each evening as you stroll through campus.

Photo Opportunities
Have your photo taken with Santa or at our Holiday photo area during the event.
The Time Is Now
Our Annual Campaign is underway. We need your support to continue our mission to educate, inspire and empower all people to be active stewards of the environment and their own well-being.
Annual Report
Please take a moment to read our Annual Report. Showcasing our accomplishments and our plans for the future
Holiday Open House
Saturday, December 4th

Shop The Nature Nook Gift Shop at the Environmental Learning Center for those on your holiday list!

The Nature Nook offers Eco-Friendly and sustainable gift items including puzzles, books for all ages, ornaments, jewelry,
T-Shirts and more!

ELC volunteers will offer free gift wrapping services from 10:00 AM-2:00 PM and 4:00 PM-8:00 PM. ELC Members get 10% off on all items in shop, all year long!
ELC Giving Tree

How can you support the Environmental Learning Center and its mission this Holiday Season?

Visit our Giving Tree Located inside the Entry Pavilion in our Nature Nook Gift Shop! The Giving Tree is decorated with holiday bulbs identifying items on our “wish list.” Select a bulb from The Giving Tree and purchase the item for donation.

Items vary from items to support our Discovery Station aquariums, educational program supplies, maintenance department, administrative supplies, native plant supplies and water craft necessities!

From fish food to gas for our pontoon boat tours we thank you in advance for your generous support!

Don’t want to go to the store? We have options available to donate the cost of the items as well! For additional information call Guest Services at: 772-589-5050.
Give the Gift of Membership

Give the gift of adventure, exploration, education and inspiration! The gift of Membership to the ELC Family offers something for everyone! During the month of December, buy one membership and get one half off! Our annual membership includes:

  • Free admission for 1 year
  • Guest passes to share
  • 10% discounts on EVERYTHING including camps, pontoon tours, kayak and canoe rentals and gift shop purchases.
  • Reciprocal benefits through ANCA, the Association of Nature Center Administrators to nature centers across the US
  • Early registration for camps
  • Invitation to Member’s Only Events
  • Free admission to many special events

The gift of membership is perfect for the Holiday Season! Gift memberships can be purchased at the Guest Services Desk in the Entry Pavilion. For more information call: 772-589-5050
Support the ELC
Get Fresh Picked Fruit for the Holidays

Help support our organization by participating in our annual fruit sale! We have partnered with Florida Indian River Groves to provide you with the freshest fruit available.

Your fruit will be harvested the very same day it's shipped to us, ensuring that you receive fruit that is hours off of the tree. Now that's fresh! Now's the time to pick up a box of Navel Oranges that are sure to be bursting with flavor or a box of sugar-sweet, Indian River Red Grapefruit.

And don't forget your friends, family, and coworkers. Everyone loves Fresh Fruit From Florida!
Thank you! We appreciate your support!

Fundraiser ends December 12th
Environmental Learning Center Annual Fundraising Gala
and Thomas R. Schidel Education & Event Pavilion Unveiling

Saturday, March 26th, 2022 | 7:00 - 10:00 PM
Event Features

> VIP Pre-Party
> Red Carpet Photo Experience
> Paella Presentation
> Live DJ
> Professional Dance Performances
> Live Art & Auction
> Dessert & Champagne
A One-of-a-Kind Immersive Experience
Presented by the ELC in Partnership with FW Productions

For more information, contact:
Thank You To Our Event Sponsors
Doug & Lesia Graybill

Christopher & Penny Saridakis

Robert & Kathleen Prindiville
Joan Edwards 
Thomas & Donna Spackman
Restoration VIP Prelude Event
December 8, 2021

If you are considering sponsoring or attending the Restoration event we would like to invite you to a VIP Prelude Event on December 8th.

This event is invitation only.
Please contact Sue at or 772-589-5050 for an invitation
Kids Camps & Programs
Free STEAM Immersion Program
December 28-30 | 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Free for students of Indian River County

Are you ready to explore the Indian River Lagoon? Build a robot? Fly a drone?

Discover where technology, engineering, and the environment meet. Open to middle school and high school students of Indian River County.

This program is proudly supported by the Children Services Advisory Committee.
Little Wonders Program
Wednesday, December 22nd
10:00 - 11:30 AM | 12:00 - 1:30 PM

A free nature enrichment and early literacy program for children 18 months to 4 years old and their caretakers featuring interactive story time, nature, arts, crafts, and so much more!
Young Entrepreneurs Market
Saturday, December 4th
10 AM - 2 PM

This holiday season, shop local and support a group of dynamic and inspiring youth who create a wide variety of super cool products.

Santa and Holiday Photos available in Centerfield 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Wellness Programs
Wellness in the Wild Series:
Spoil Yourself Island Camping & Kayaking

Adventure Scale 5-6
December 17-19 on the Indian River Lagoon
  • $225 | Bring your own camping equipment and meals (supply list provided)
  • Paddle craft rental included
  • Tent rentals available. Contact us for details.

Includes primitive camping 101, moonlit nature immersion and meditations, bonfire Reiki, sunbathing, kayaking, and Word of the Year workshop.
Yoga with Annie Padnuk
December 3rd, 10th, and 17th
1:00 - 2:00 PM

Get grounded with a practice for your mind, body and spirit. This class is suitable for beginners.

$15 Per Person | Members 10% Off
Class bundles available.
Beginners Qigong
Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat
9:00 - 10:00 AM

Intermediate Qigong & Thai Chi
Tue & Thurs
9:00 - 10:00 AM

$15 Per Person | First Class Free
Members 10% Off
Morning Magic Forest Therapy Walk
Monday, December 20th
6:00 - 8:00 AM
$20 per person | ELC Member 10% Off

Be guided through the practice of Forest Therapy. A leisurely and mindful experience in a natural setting for health benefits.

Forest Therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates to "forest bathing." Studies have demonstrated a wide array of health benefits, especially in the cardiovascular and immune systems, and for stabilizing and improving mood and cognition. We build on those benefits and look beyond, to what happens when people remember that we are a part of nature, not separate from it, and are related to all other beings in fundamental ways.
Wellness in the Wild Series:
The Wildest Night of the Year! Primitive Camping & Kayaking

Adventure Scale 8-9
December 31 - January 2nd at St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park
  • $225 | Bring your own camping equipment and meals (supply list provided)
  • Paddle craft rental included
  • Tent rentals available. Contact us for details.

Includes primitive camping 101, pristine habitat hiking, zero moon dark nights, nature immersion and meditations, bonfire Reiki, kayaking on the St. Sebastian River, and Word of the Year workshop.
Guided Tours & Excursions
Daily Pontoon Boat Trips
Enjoy a 2 hour guided cruise along the Indian River Lagoon. Learn about the inhabitants of the lagoon and mangrove forests along the way. Visit the Pelican Island Wildlife Refuge or stop off for a splash on a spoil island!
Morning, Sunset and Spoil Island Splash departures available. Boat is wheelchair accessible.

Private pontoon boat reservations available - great for groups, parties, and retreats.

Daily kayak and canoe rentals and tours available!
Bike Tours on Historic Jungle Trail
Friday, December 3rd 9:00 - 11:00 am
Saturday, December 18th 3:30 - 5:30 pm

$15 Adults & Children age 13 and up
$10 Children ages 8 - 12 and under
10% Off for ELC Members

Join us for a comfortably paced eight mile tour of the historic Jungle trail that includes several interpretive spots where you will learn about the history of the Jungle Trail, Capt. Forster's Preserve, and more. Minimum age 8 years old. Bring your bike!
Tour starts and ends at Captain Forster's
Members-Only Walk at Osprey Acres Stormwater Park and Nature Preserve
Wednesday, December 22nd
8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

At just over 83 acres, Osprey Acres Stormwater Park & Nature Preserve provides ample opportunities to enjoy nature. Like other parks within the Indian River County Stormwater system, Osprey Acres is a functional park - designed to remove dissolved nutrients from stormwater runoff and the South County Water Treatment Plant discharge before this nutrient-rich water can enter the Indian River Lagoon system. The park's earthen trails wind through pine uplands, oak hammocks, scrub, and man-made wetlands.

Meet at 925 5th St SW, Vero Beach, FL

Bring binoculars, water and mosquito spray
Art & Exhibits
November & December Artist Showcase
Featuring the work of Trish Brannon and Sandra Johnson
Stroll our two galleries featuring amazing art that educates and inspires.
Galleries will be on display through December.

All artwork is available for purchase and make great gifts for the art lover in your life!
Donor Spotlight
Thank you to The Benedict Foundation for their generous support of the ELC! They sponsored the Living Walls for the Thomas R. Schidel Education and Event Pavilion. The Living Walls will provide shade and a beautiful natural element to each side of the Pavilion; combining form and function.
November Recap
We're so very thankful for another amazing month at the ELC!
Photos taken by visitor David K. Johnson on the ELC campus 11/30
Save the Date
RESTORATION Prelude at Vero Beach Outlets
January 13th from 5:30 - 7:30 PM

Join us for a Prelude celebration of Restoration hosted by:
Presenting Sponsor Vero Beach Outlets.

The Environmental Learning Center and FW Productions invite you to join us for a preview of "Restoration". RSVP's are requested but not required. To RSVP and for sponsorship and ticket information contact: Sue Harr; or call 772-589-5050
Quail Valley Charities Kid's Fun Zone
1-mile Run & 5k Walk/Run
Saturday, January 8th 2022 at 7:30 a.m.

The morning is filled with music, bounce houses, face painting, and much more!

50/50 Raffle Tickets are available for sale in our Nature Nook. $100 per ticket. Raffles include hotel stays, travel packages, high-end accessories and home goods, and more!

Contact to participate on our ELC team free of charge.
2022 Windsor Charity Polo Cup Raffle Tickets
to Benefit the ELC
The Environmental Learning Center is thrilled to have been chosen as a co-beneficiary of the Windsor Polo event on February 22nd. Windsor is a premier, internationally known residential enclave and we are so proud to be working with these special neighbors. They embrace their role as stewards of this unique ecosystem. We look forward to an impactful and long-lasting partnership with this local treasure.

In support, the ELC has 2022 Windsor Charity Polo Cup Raffle Tickets for sale in our Nature Nook. Tickets are $25 each or 5 for $100. Prizes include:

  • Paul Morelli One-of-a-Kind Dragonfly Necklace value $23,000
  • Givenchy Mini Antigona Vertical Leather Crossbody Bag value $1,780
  • Two Elite Airways Round-Trip Tickets from Newark to Vero Beach value $1,150
  • J. McLaughlin Shopping Spree value $1,000
  • ELC Membership and Event Package $650 - Includes 2 Tickets to 3/26 Restoration Gala, 4 Tickets to 3/27 LagoonFest and 1 Annual Family Membership
Volunteer Corner
Join Us!
Interested in Volunteering with the Environmental Learning Center?

Reach out to Volunteer Coordinator
Nancy Puglio at

Volunteer Opportunities & Training

  • We will have a Volunteer Orientation on Thursday, January 6, 2-2:30pm. If you are a new volunteer or a long time volunteer that hasn't attended an orientation please join us. We will cover a little history, organization, volunteer opportunities and logistics. Please let me know if you plan to attend at or 772-589-5050 x107.

  • We’d like to have an ELC table at Downtown Vero Beach on the last Friday of the month from 6-9pm. We have someone to set up the tent and table but we’re looking for volunteers to man the table and promote upcoming events. It is a fun event, and you can do it with a friend!

  • We still need some volunteers to help with s’mores, photo op with Santa, parking control and canoe check in for WinterGreen NightLights (WGNL) 12/2-4 and 12/9-11 5:30-8:30. Please let me know if you can help and if so what nights work for you.

  • ELC is a beneficiary of the proceeds from the Quail Valley Fun Run on 1/8/22. We'd love to have some volunteers participate with ELC t-shirts on. Please let me know if you are interested.

  • We could still use some pop tops from soup cans etc., plastic soda bottles and buttons/yarn for our WGNL crafts.

  • We need some additional Jungle Trail Bike Tour volunteers. Please see the description below and let me know if you might be interested. The tours are led by ELC vols Matt and Maggie Lechowicz.

The eco-history bicycle tour of the Jungle Trail is a popular activity that the ELC has been offering for over 2 years.  It is a relaxed-pace, 9-mile round-trip ride with multiple interpretive talks that lasts about 2-1/2 hours including stops. We have had a wide range of participants from kids, to teens, to seniors.
We need volunteers to assist our guides with conducting these trips. A trip can have from 4 to 12 participants. A volunteer should be able to:

  • Confidently ride a bike, at a moderate pace, for up to 2-1/ 2 hours including stops (actual pedaling time is typically about 1-1/4  hours).
  • Alert participants both audibly and visually about road conditions (approaching motor vehicles, pedestrians, pot-holes…)
  • Accompany participants who cannot complete the tour due to illness or mechanical issues back to the tour starting point.
  • Assist guides with the general conduct of the tour and be able to answer basic questions about the ecology and history of the Jungle Trail.
  • Eventually, deliver interpretive talks during stops on the tour.
Our mission is to educate, inspire and empower all people to be active stewards of the environment and their own well-being.

Thank you for the many ways you support our critical mission.
We simply couldn’t do it without you!

The ELC is sponsored by:
Archie S. Wingfield Jr. Charitable Trust
Susan Kasten
Richard and Laura McDermott
William and Laurie Stewart
Jim and Virginia Sourbeer
Alice and Ronald Hall
Dale Sorensen Real Estate
Hair by Talia
Robert and Margaret Martin
Mr. Robin Dunlap
Bob and Joan Peirce
Donald and Pamela Barr
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