ELC opens doors to more volunteers, still seeking help

WABASSO — The Environmental Learning Center kept its doors open a little later Wednesday in hopes of bringing in more volunteers. And organizers were not disappointed.

More than 20 people came out during the center’s annual Volunteer Open House, signing up seven to serve in various roles. “There’s a wide variety of interests,” said Volunteer Coordinator Nancy Puglio.

Among those who came out to learn more about volunteering was Sharon Marable, who already dedicates one day a week to Keep Indian River Beautiful.

“It’s a great place,” Marable said of the Environmental Learning Center. “It’s wonderful.”

She expressed some concern, though, regarding how much time might be asked of her if she were to volunteer.

Puglio assured her that she could volunteer how ever much time she was comfortable with.

Marable had not decided whether or not to commit some time to volunteering at the center, but said that if she were going to, she did not want to be a canoe guide.

“I can assist,” Marable said of other guides or classes. “I’m good at following instructions.”

But leading a class is not something she said she is comfortable with.

Longtime volunteer Ann Ricciardi said that non-volunteers miss out on the opportunity to help youth and seniors alike explore nature and see the wonder that comes over them.

“This is such a phenomenal hands-on campus,” she said. “It’s a fabulous venue to learn about the habitat.”

Ricciardi has volunteered her time at the ELC off and on for the last 10 years, introducing nature to children through school programs.

“We could not begin to operate without volunteers,” Puglio said.

The ELC runs on eight staff members and more than 120 active volunteers. But more volunteers are needed.

Puglio said that many residents in Indian River County decide not to volunteer simply because they are seasonal. She explained that during season, the ELC is at its busiest and at its greatest need.

“We can use seasonal volunteers,” Puglio said.

Such volunteering opportunities include positions within Education, Visitor Information, Special Skills, Practical Skills, and Special Events categories.

The ELC is looking for volunteers to assist with school programs, guides for nature walks and canoe/kayak trips, greeting visitors, creating and building exhibits, running errands, and helping during special events, among many other positions.

Anyone interested in learning more about volunteering at the ELC is encouraged to e-mail Volunteer Coordinator Nancy Pugio at nancy@discoverelc.org or call (772) 589-5050.

The Environmental Learning Center is located at 255 Live Oak Drive, Vero Beach, off the Wabasso Causeway.

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