October Newsletter




Thank you for being a newsletter subscriber and an essential part of our ongoing success at the Environmental Learning Center. The ELC has emerged from the pandemic with an enhanced variety of programs, an ever-expanding calendar of events, and exciting new additions to our refreshed campus.

Now we want to sustain our successes and ensure that we continue to evolve to meet your needs. All we are asking of you today is to complete this brief, 5-minute survey to ensure your voice is heard in planning our future. The ELC’s leadership will use your feedback to chart the course for our future. Click anywhere in the graphic above to take the survey.

After completing this survey, you can provide your email to enter the drawing for a $100 gift card for The Nature Nook which is ELC's gift shop full of unique, one-of-a-kind items or a Pontoon Boat Ride or Kayak Rental or a Camp or an upcoming Event or Program. Your responses will not be connected to the email address you enter.

 Click here for the October Newsletter Printable Summary

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

Fall is a slow income

time for us.

Please donate if you can!

Donate Now to Support our Mission

We are open 7 days a week to serve our community!

Monday - Friday: 8 AM to 5 PM

Saturday & Sunday: 8 AM to 4 PM

The ELC is a smoke and pet-free campus.

All visitors (including members and volunteers) should visit the Barrows Welcome Center to check in.

Members Free!

Adults (ages 12 & up) - $7

Children (ages 2-11) - $5

Children under 2 - Free

Message from Executive Director

Barbara Schlitt Ford

This past Saturday night, I was able to experience bioluminescence in our lagoon! I had not seen it before at our campus (though many had experienced it while night kayaking up in Brevard County where it is more common). It was quite magical to interact with, a thrill I will never forget. I simply couldn’t get enough of the mysterious bright glow and was awestruck once again by the magnificence of the natural world. When I left campus Saturday night, I stopped at the Wabasso Causeway, and it was everywhere there as well.

I learned the mesmerizing blue glow comes from microscopic single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates. Also known as phytoplankton, dinoflagellates are plant-like creatures that use photosynthesis to produce the food they need to survive. They are more prevalent in the IRL in the warmer months of May through September. 

The phenomenon of bioluminescence (“fire in the water”) happens in response to pressure on the cell walls of these organisms. The water has to be disturbed by movement in order to see the light. This pressure ignites a chemical reaction that creates a bright blue glow. Scientists theorize that the glow might be a warning system against predators. For humans, it’s a light show that is awe-inspiring. (Speaking of awe, check out this fascinating article about how cultivating a mindset for experiencing awe makes our lives so much better!) 

Awe is Awesome

I was able to chat with ORCA Executive Director Dr. Edie Widder about bioluminescence, because she happens to be an expert on the topic. 

Watch the less than 15 minute video by clicking here 👀 

Dr. Edie Widder & Barb Ford on Bioluminescence

You can tell from the video that she and I share this never-ending sense of wonder for the natural world. Our team of staff, volunteers and supporters are united by this common passion for this outdoor paradise we are blessed to call home. We take time to admire a cluster of wildflowers, to observe the aerial dance of the bees, to listen to the crash of the waves, and deeply breathe in the sunrises and sunsets that mark our days. When we travel we do the same. We are happier because of our sense of awe and healthier after taking the time to bask in it. Thank you for being part of our wonder-full tribe! 

We offer so many ways for people of all ages to Unplug, Discover and Connect. Enjoy this newsletter and choose a few activities to put on your calendar and we will see you soon at your ELC! 

Yours in service, 

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There Are Many Ways to Support the ELC:

*Put your name on the boardwalk with an Engraved Plank. 

Give to the Maggy Bowman Scholarship Fund.

Donate Unrestricted Funds for the ELC mission.

The interior campus ramp replacement project is completed, and the ELC is once again able to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers.  We invite you to help us "fill in the planks" with a donation for an engraved plank. We have plenty of space available and are grateful to the Ward Family Fund, Tarik and Tricia Kawi, John Lowenberg, and many others for their investment in this important project. Click here to make your Plank Donation.

The Maggy Bowman Scholarship Fund provides support for immersive education experiences. Founder Maggy Bowman’s greatest interest was environmental education. She believed students learned more through hands-on, feet wet activities. The Maggy Bowman Scholarship provides funding for learning experiences like Summer and School Break Camps and education programs offered all year long. We have many requests, and your donation will provide educational experiences to eligible families. Click here to donate: Maggy Bowman Scholarships

Unrestricted Funds support our dedicated staff and daily operations. 

The 64-acre campus, our buildings and educational areas require maintenance to give members and guests the best experience. Your donation will be used to fund the highest priorities. 

ELC Mission Donation

Join ELC for Free Admission   

Thank you to all of our loyal members. We love seeing the renewals and meeting people who are new to the ELC. Our membership offers free year-round admission, access to member events, discounts, and privileges – all while supporting our mission. Individual memberships are only $35.00 and a family can join for $50.00. Take a look at the different options and choose the one that fits you best. Call or come by and we will help you sign up or join online by clicking the link below.  

Online Membership Purchase 

October Events and Highlights 

Take Care of Yourself And Your Family

Join ELC and the School District of Indian River County for a new community event. Wild About Wellness is Saturday, October 22nd

here on the ELC campus. Meet the partners who support mental,

physical, and emotional health at the school district. Learn about

the benefits of nature on your health and well-being with presentations

on Health and Nature Immersion and the Benefits of Volunteering. 

Our wellness instructors will have short classes and demonstrations.  

This event is FREE and open to the public. 

Visit With Community Partners

Cleveland Clinic- Drug Abuse Treatment Center-Mental Health Association

Mental Health Collaborative-QuitDoc Foundation-Treasure Coast Girls Coalition

SAFIR Substance Abuse Awareness Center-Suncoast Mental Health

Treasure Coast Community Health-Tykes and Teens-United Against Poverty

Youth and Family Behavior Center-Legacy Behavioral Health

Girls On The Run of the Treasure Coast

Schedule of Activities 

10-10:30 AM

Nature Walk - Meet in front of Welcome Center - Family Friendly

10:30-11 AM

Pilates - Lagoon Room - Adults

11-11:30 AM

Walking Meditation - Welcome Center & Native Plant Garden - Adults

11-11:30 AM

Nature Walk - Meet in front of Welcome Center - Family Friendly

11:30 AM-12 PM

Qigong - Lagoon Room - Adults

12-12:15 PM

EFT Emotional Freedom Technique/Tapping - Lagoon Room - Family Friendly

12:15-1 PM

The Benefits of Nature Immersion on Human Health - Lagoon Room -Adults

Enchanted Lantern Chase

Saturday, October 29th

4:00 PM Event Begins at ELC

5:00 PM Race Start Time  

Presented by Runner's Depot, the Enchanted Lantern Chase is a 2-mile run/walk starting and ending at the Environmental Learning Center just off of the Wabasso Causeway. The ELC course will start on the learning center property before briefly passing through quiet neighborhood streets. The race will finish by traveling through the established trail system on the ELC property. This is a truly unique event that you don't want to miss!

Enchanted Lantern Chase Sign Up Here

  • Enchanted Lantern Chase will have Overall/Age group awards, a post-race party with live DJ and Food vendors. T-shirts are guaranteed to the first 250 registrants (size quantities limited) and there are plans for Random Raffle Prizes! There will NOT be a costume contest, but we encourage runners/walkers to dress in their Halloween costumes with spooky day being just a couple days away!   If you have any questions about the race, please contact the race director at [email protected]

Local Issue Alert for Conservation Lands

Watch this video with Indian River Land Trust Executive Director Ken Grudens to learn more about the conservation lands bond referendum that will be on the November 8th Indian River County ballot so that you can make an informed decision when voting. 

IRLT Ken Grudens and Barb Ford

Pontoon Tours

Sit back and relax as you enjoy the scenic view and search for wildlife on the Indian River Lagoon. Our naturalist guide provides the perfect amount of educational commentary for you to learn more about this unique environment.

Learn More

Kayak & Canoe Rentals

We offer a wide range of activities on the water, so you can experience the natural beauty and tranquility that comes from time spent on the Indian River Lagoon. Come explore the waters and mangrove forests around our lagoon island campus. 

Learn More

Signup for a Guided Kayak Tour 

ELC has Sunrise and Sunset Tours scheduled.

Sunset Tour-Friday, October 28th - Meet @ 5:00PM

Sunrise Tour: Saturday, November 26th - Meet @ 6:00AM

Sunset /Full Moon Kayaking - Wednesday, December 7th - Meet @ 4:45PM

Reach out to the ELC to create a Custom Guided Tour!

Sign Up for a Kayak Tour

ELC Edible Plant Walk

The ELC members-only Walk on Wednesday will start the season on October 26th with a field trip through the beautiful campus of the Environmental Learning Center. Our 64-acre property is a great example of successful habitat restoration where we will draw connections between mangrove forests, salt marsh, and coastal hammocks with a focus on edible native plants. Please bring a reusable water bottle and proper sun protection. The walk starts at the picnic tables under the Discovery Station at 8:00 AM. 

Sign Up

Paid High School Internship Opportunities at the ELC

The Environmental Learning Center (ELC) is seeking motivated interns with multi-disciplinary interests to learn and explore careers leading to a more sustainable future through working with staff and volunteers in teaching camps for children, designing interpretive guest experiences, marketing and communicating our organization’s activities to the public, maintaining the large display public aquaria and touch tank, assisting in general guest services, conducting ecological field research, and receiving mentoring from our nature center staff in all manner of operations. The start date is flexible and applicants should plan to be available October 2022 through May 2023. Work schedule varies but generally consists of two, 2-hour days each week for a total of 20 hours per month. Head to the application link to complete yours today!

Contact Sara Piotter, ELC Senior Environmental Educator, with questions: [email protected] or 772-589-5050. 

Apply Here

Sponsors are vital to the ELC as we put events and programs together. There is nothing better than a shared experience to promote your business, product, service, or cause. The perfect place to have that shared experience is here at the ELC. The Environmental Learning Center has a full menu of opportunities.

View Flyers

ELC Art Season 2022-2023 

The Indian River Bird and Nature Art Show to benefit Pelican Island Conservation Society opens in October and the Artist Reception and Awards is on October 7th, 4:30-6:30 PM followed by a lecture on Historic Jungle Trail at 7:00 PM for anyone wishing to stay. This show supports the Pelican Island Wildlife Refuge and will be in the Lagoon Room and Tidal Gallery. To apply for the show, contact Deb Avery by email, at [email protected]


Call To Artists 12" by 12" Show 

Deadline Extended to Monday, October 3rd 

The ELC's will be hosting "It's The Little Things" a 12" by 12"

Art Show. See the guidelines and the application on the ELC website with the button below. The entry process is online.

"It's The Little Things" Art Show

January and February will have a Nature Series Exhibit and the Spring Fling show is March, April and May. Each show will have an Artist Meet and Greet reception. 


Walking Meditation in the ELC Butterfly Garden with Elise is the 4th Sunday of the month; the next class is on October 23rd  at 11:00 AM.

Sign Up Here

Dr. Katie Nall's Qigong classes begin in October.  Sign up for Tuesday evenings at 6:00 PM or Thursday mornings at 8:30 AM. 

Sign Up Here

Friday Yoga sessions with Annie resume on October 7th. the classes are on Fridays at 1:00 PM.

Sign Up Here



Pilates begins at ELC on October 25th with Janice Broda.  Build a better back, strengthen your core and improve your agility with Pilates.  The offering is for 

a five-class series. Classes are Tuesdays, October 25th, November 1st, 

8th, 15th and 22nd, 3:30 - 4:30 PM. 

Sign Up Here

Fall Education Opportunities 

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Lagoon Academy

Homeschool Program


Join us as we investigate the amazing creatures of the Indian River Lagoon. Students will investigate the behavior of birds, the adaptations of fish, the importance of sharks, and the animals living in the mud and oyster beds. Students will explore our 64-acre campus, get waist-deep in the water collecting sea creatures, and experience lots of learning through games and art activities.


Tuesdays and Wednesdays 

10 AM - 12 PM

$60 for 1 month

Members 10% off

Learn More

Little Wonders

A 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!



$10 Non-Member | $9 Member

9 - 10 AM or 11 AM - 12 PM



Sponsored by Sunrise Rotary Club

Free to Participate

9 - 10 AM or 11 AM - 12 PM

October 19th & 22nd

Learn About

Plants and Seeds

Learn More

Sign Up

Venue Rentals

Book a Venue

Get together here at the ELC. Think of the Environmental Learning Center for any group gathering. Click the Learn More button below and let us know how we can help you plan a birthday party, holiday celebration, family reunion or corporate event.  

Learn More

Plein Air Painting Workshop 

Saturday, October 8th

10:30 AM- 12:30 PM

Join us for a great morning of painting, outside and surrounded by nature. There is no experience necessary to paint this 12” x 12” design. We supply all the materials and walk you through the painting process, step-by-step. Feel free to bring your own refreshments. Come and enjoy yourself and take home your own masterpiece.

For future offerings:

Dabble in color

Adult Workshop Info:

Click Here


National Wildlife

Refuge Month

In addition to the Bird and Nature Art Show, The Pelican Island Conservation Society is hosting several other events here at the ELC Campus to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Month.  

Sign up for a Sunset Wine and Cheese Pontoon Tours to Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. The dates are October 8th, 15th and 22nd at 4:15 PM.  

On October 15th at 7:15 PM there will be an Owl Hoot with David Simpson. 

Sign Up For PICS Pontoon Boat Tours and Owl Hoot Here


The Hidden Rivers of Florida 

Learn more about this topic at the Eco-Action Society meeting on October 20th. Our guest speaker is Alexis Peralta. Join us to learn about storm water and view the documentary The Hidden Rivers of Florida. Attendees will be able to sign up for a special field trip to Egret Marsh on October 21st. 

Florida Native Plants 

Then on November 17th, we will join up with the Native Plant Society here at The ELC to hear Marc Speiss talk about Connecting Florida With Native Plants and the Florida Wildlife Corridor.   Meetings are the third Thursday of the month from 6:00 - 8:00 PM September-May. 

Sign Up

Eagle Riders Poker Run for the ELC

The Fraternal Order of Eagles of Sebastian group known as the Eagle Riders have chosen ELC as the beneficiary of a grant and a motorcycle poker run planned for October 15th. The Fraternal Order of Eagles has a rich history of giving and we are fortunate that they have chosen us!

For those who ride, kickstands up time will be 10:00 AM from the Sebastian Eagles Aerie located at 9606 Trade Center Drive in Sebastian. Riders can come earlier for coffee and pastries. The poker run will include stops in other local Eagles Aeries as well as the ELC and will end at the Sebastian Aerie. There will be a pulled pork dinner available for $5, the proceeds of which will also to benefit ELC.

A Land Remembered Book Study Group

Join us in January and February as we take a deeper dive into this book that takes place before modern conveniences where a young family struggles to survive in the unruly, unforgiving wilderness of Florida in the mid-19th century. Each week we will explore another area that somehow pertains to the book or the time of the book. 

Learn More

Save these dates for upcoming events:

WinterGreen Night Lights

December, 1-3 & 8-10, 2022

A Land Remembered Book Club

January 8th, 2023

Mangroves & Moonlight Annual Gala

January 28, 2023


April 1, 2023

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Volunteer Corner

Become a Volunteer

Become a volunteer at the ELC! Do what you love, while making a difference in our community. You'll meet a social circle of volunteers and enjoy volunteer appreciation events! Our volunteer coordinator, Nancy Puglio, will make sure that you get to do what you love and have fun in the process! 

Some volunteer opportunities include:

  • Assisting with education programs 
  • Greeting visitors
  • Maintaining our campus (gardening)
  • Serving as docents 
  • Helping with special events and family festivals
  • Canoeing and boating
  • Photography
  • Communications
  • Fundraising
  • Touch Tank
  • Clerical

Volunteer News

Thank you to our dedicated group of ELC Volunteers! We could not continue to offer such amazing events and activities without you.

Please contact Nancy Puglio, Volunteer Coordinator, at [email protected] or 772-589-5050 x107 if you have any questions or you would like to volunteer.

Concierge Volunteers are needed to back up the staff Greeter most any day of the week. Most volunteers help for 2-3 hours but any time you can offer would be appreciated (answering phones, welcoming guests, program sign-ups). Staff Greeters have other responsibilities, and the volunteer help provides them the time to focus on other tasks. 

The ELC has one more IRC School District Family Fun Day event on Saturday, November 5th, 10 AM - 2 PM. ELC will need twenty volunteers to help with Touch Tank, Parking, Welcome Center, Crafts, and working the information tables. If you haven’t already please let Nancy know if you can help at [email protected] or 772-589-5050 x107.

ELC would like to have a table at MSVB's Downtown Fridays on 14th Avenue in Vero Beach on the last Friday on the month from 6-9 PM. It is a great way to spread the word about all the programs and excursions ELC has to offer. We would like to be there starting Friday, 10/28 and 11/25, 1/27, 2/24, 3/31 and 4/28.

Dyer Automotive Group will have their Family Picnic here on Sunday, 10/16 10-2 PM. There will be 80-100 people in attendance. The ELC will need volunteers to help with pond dip netting, Touch Tank, giant bubbles, crafts and 4 short 45-minute, pontoon trips. 

We are often asked for volunteer hours when submitting applications for grants. Please submit your volunteer hours at the link below.

Volunteer Hour Submission Form

Thank you to our Annual Sponsors and Partners!

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Children's Services Advisory Committee

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