The Environmental Learning Center's (ELC) mission is to educate, inspire, and empower all people to be active stewards of the environmental and their own well-being. Since its inception, the ELC has served over 1.5 million people and provides over 530 programs annually, each designed to help people connect with, protect, and preserve local natural resources and wild spaces. Originally founded in collaboration with our local school district as an outdoor learning laboratory for students, we pride ourselves on providing memorable “hands-on, feet-wet” experiences for youth and people of all ages, and we firmly believe that the first step in environmental stewardship is foraging connections between people and the local ecosystems that are integral to our well-being and livelihoods.
Founded in 1988, our 64-acre island campus is surrounded by the Indian River Lagoon, an Estuary of National Significance, home to over 4,000 species of plants and animals. The Environmental Learning Center (ELC) campus features untouched mangrove shorelines teeming with life, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural wonder of this unique ecosystem. Miles of raised boardwalk trails leading deep into the mangrove tangle coupled with scenic outlook stations, as well as multiple docks for fishing and launching canoes, kayaks, and the ELC pontoon boat, invite guests to explore and uncover wild, coastal Florida. In addition to unparalleled access to the wonders of our local ecosystem, the ELC campus features multiple indoor exhibit spaces, which each serve to deepen our visitors’ understanding of the local environment. A 1,500 gallon aquarium system, home to local species collected by visitors and students during seine net fishing expeditions, serves as the center point of our interactive Discovery Station, which also features rotating exhibits highlighting ways that people can be environmental stewards and live more sustainably in their everyday lives. The ELC campus also features covered pavilions and open spaces for group events, including group primitive camping with guided nature experiences.