ELC Blue Hair Challenge goal of $100k reached


ELC Executive Director Barbara Schlitt-Ford is feeling blue

100,000 thank you’s to all of you that helped us reach our Blue Hair Challenge goal by donating or spreading the word!

On April 1, Barbara Schlitt Ford, Executive Director of the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) issued a Blue Hair Challenge. If the ELC raised $100k by the end of the month of May, she would dye her hair bright blue in appreciation.

The Blue Hair Challenge was ELC’s response to the lack of income coming in due to Covid-19 facility closure. While the outdoor campus remained open to the public free of charge as the ELC’s gift to the public during this challenging time, with no revenue being generated due to the inability to offer indoor experiences including classes and programs, the ELC came up with this challenge to encourage others to help relieve some of the financial stress for this special community organization.

As of today, June 1, the ELC raised $82,942 in direct donations, with the number continuing to rise each day. In addition, the ELC team got creative in various ways in the past couple months, including applying for two new grants, which they were awarded, totaling $25,000, causing the ELC to not only reach, but exceed, the $100,000 goal! This combined revenue helps make a big dent in the lost revenue for ELC caused by the inability to run programs for 2 1/2 to 3 months.

Barbara said, “Our tagline for the campaign was “Blue Hair for the Blue Planet!” Our beloved Earth is known as the blue planet because almost 70% of its surface is water. Because of its water, Earth is home to millions of species of plants and animals. Most of us associate blue water and blue sky with a healthy environment. And that is what the ELC is all about! Fostering a connection to our environment and sharing knowledge about how to care for it. The health of our natural world is directly tied to our own human health. We recently witnessed firsthand the undeniable connectivity between the environment and all living things. We’ve also had glimpses of how changes in human behavior can have a positive impact on our natural resources.”

Barbara Schlitt Ford will proudly wear her blue hair until at least the Fourth of July to show of her deep appreciation for the community’s belief in the importance of our mission and willingness to step in and be a part of the solution. Thank you to all who support our work to educate, inspire and empower all people to be active stewards of the environment and our own well-being.

In addition to achieving this monetary goal, today, June 1, ELC began its phased reopening. “We are excited to see our members, volunteers and guests back at the ELC – utilizing the campus as an extension of your own backyard, enjoying a pontoon boat ride on our Indian River Lagoon, taking a kayak tour or a stroll through our native plant garden or butterfly garden, fishing off the dock, or participating in some of our wellness classes. The health and well-being of our guests is our priority. A lot of time and work went into creating a safe reopening plan, which can be viewed on our website,” shared Ford.

The Environmental Learning Center is a 64-acre 501(c)(3) not-for-profit nature center whose mission is to educate, inspire and empower all people to be active stewards of the environment and their own well-being. The ELC serves the community through festivals and events, field trips, camps, youth and adult programming, outreach/virtual education and more. The campus includes native plant gardens, a gift and native plant store, boardwalks, kayaks, canoes, a pontoon boat, children’s play areas, facilities rentals for events, and many other amenities that help increase access and connection to nature for people of all ages. ELC is open 7 days a week. Visit www.DiscoverELC.org or call 772-589-5050 for more info.

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