VERO BEACH — The Environmental Learning Center’s 30th Anniversary Gala is here. “Envision the Future” is the theme of the evening, and poet and essayist Gary Snyder says it beautifully: “Nature is not a place you visit. It is home.”

A highlight of the evening will be to present the first “Environmental Visionary in Action “award. This EVA award will be given annually to honor an individual doing outstanding, boundary-pushing work, in any discipline, that focuses on enabling humans to live in harmony with their environment. This year’s award will go to Sir Richard Branson, British businessman and philanthropist. Sir Richard will join the festivities by video. Attending on his behalf will be his emissaries Allington “Gumption” Creque and Angela Burnet Penn from the British Virgin Islands who will give a brief talk and accept the award in his place.

Tim and Carol Buhl and Jacob Busch are Honorary Co-Chairs for this benefit gala taking place on Saturday, April 7, from 6 – 9 pm at Bent Pine Golf Club, 6001 Clubhouse Drive in Vero Beach. The order of the evening will be: cocktails and silent auction, dinner and dessert, presentation of the EVA award, and dancing with music provided by Alternative Therapy. There will be an open bar all evening and valet parking. Dress is festive cocktail attire.

Tickets are $200 per person for a classic ticket, $150 per person for young professionals (under 40 years of age – limited number of tickets available), and $500 per person for 30th Anniversary Commemorative Tickets that include priority seating and a small thank you gift. The net proceeds will provide assistance for those with financial need who wish to take part in ELC educational programs. Tickets can be obtained online at or by calling Brendon at 772-589-5050 x102. For sponsorship opportunities please contact Wendy at 772-589-5050 x113.

The Environmental Learning Center, the brainchild of members of the Pelican Island Audubon Society, opened its doors in 1988. It has been working ever since to stress the importance of fostering the connection of humans with nature. The ELC relies on the backing of donors in the community as well as dedicated staff and those who volunteer their time. “This year’s 30th Anniversary Gala is aptly titled ‘Envision the Future’ – as we work towards a time when all humanity lives in harmony with nature. We look forward to unveiling our new Campus Master Plan this year, focused on improving the grounds for guests of all ages to connect with and be enriched by nature. It is a very exciting time for us and we are grateful for our community’s support,” said Molly Steinwald, ELC Executive Director.

The Environmental Learning Center is located north of Vero Beach off County Road 510 at the end of the Wabasso Bridge. Its mission is to educate, inspire and empower all people, including those with minimal access to nature, to be active stewards of the environment and their own well-being. The 64-acre campus includes exhibit areas, native plant gardens, picnic facilities and visitor center. ELC membership benefits, a list of its many field excursions, EcoVentures, including nature walks, canoe excursions, and boating adventures can be found at

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