ELC Receives $500,000 Bequest Gift


The Environmental Learning Center (ELC) on Wabasso Island gratefully announces the receipt of a bequest gift in excess of $500,000 to support their mission of promoting connections to the natural environment. This month, the ELC received the first installment from the estate of Marie G. Gookin, who included the organization in her estate plans back in 1994.

Born January 15, 1924, Mrs. Gookin resided in the John’s Island community of Vero Beach. A dedicated environmentalist and philanthropist, she supported many organizations in the community. Marie passed away on July 14, 2018 at the age of 94. She was preceded in death by her husband, R. Burt Gookin, former CEO of H. J. Heinz Co. in Pittsburgh, PA.

Mrs. Gookin’s generosity will help strengthen the ELC as they move forward with campus improvements and implementation of their Master Plan, a blueprint for the center’s future growth and development. ELC Board Chair, Don Barr, said “We were thrilled to receive this very generous gift from the estate of Mrs. Gookin. The gift is particularly significant as the ELC begins the implementation of our master plan and enhances programming in an effort to attract more visitors.” The Master Plan includes a new Education & Event Pavilion (now in early design planning), a Native Plant Garden, a Children’s Nature Fun Zone, and a Butterfly Garden. The ELC hopes to double the number of individuals it serves over the next five years.

Leaving a personal legacy that lives on forever could be the most important gift you ever make, and one of the easiest. For more information about including the ELC in your will or other estate plans, please contact Give@DiscoverELC.org or 772-589-5050.

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. Plentiful, year-round options are available for humans to connect with nature and learn about the interdependence of all ecosystems, including guided pontoon boat trips on the Indian River Lagoon, summer camps for children, a monthly EcoTalk Lecture Series, school field trips, professional development training, and more. 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 to increase access to nature for people of all ages. Learn more about volunteer, membership, sponsorship, and program opportunities at DiscoverELC.org.

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