Spring 2015  –  I love to take time to write this column. It provides a wonderful reason to reflect on the status and rhythm of the Institute. The Institute, like the marsh outside my window, has its own rhythm. It’s February and one typically thinks of this as the quiet, perhaps even sleepy time down by the shore. I know that to be very deceiving. Some days the salt pannes out my window are frozen and still, other times they are filled with Great Blue Herons, Black Ducks, Greater Yellowlegs, Red-Breasted Mergansers, and Kingfishers. Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and Northern Harriers patrol the winter marsh hunting for their next meal. Deciding whether you think the marsh – or the Institute – is quiet or awash in activity – is one of perspective.

2015-02_295So much is happening both behind the scenes and out in the community. The Stone Harbor Point Restoration Project has just started the construction phase and we are planning extensively for the Beneficial Reuse of Dredge Material project to start field work in a few weeks. The education program with Russia is in full swing now, and Brooke and I are working on travel logistics, establishing relationships with the center partners, and starting the work of collecting education best practices. We head to Russia in mid-April. The education teams are polishing and refining new program components and we are working every day on maintenance and repair work so the Institute is ready to go when school group activity increases dramatically in a few weeks. The applications are rolling in for the summer intern programs and we are working very hard to replace the martin house at the Institute. The martins are already in Georgia and headed north so we only have a few weeks to have their new home ready! The rhythm of the martins is the time clock that we keep. Whether we are preparing for their arrival – or your arrival – all of us at The Institute are collectively wondering what happened to the quiet time?

025We have been busy. In the coming days, we will be launching a restructuring of the membership program. We have added an exciting new membership category for Lifetime Membership – an opportunity for us to honor some of our very long-standing members, and welcome others into this group. We have also provided for opportunities to better focus membership dues directly on supporting our mission and provided opportunities to decline some member benefits so that your membership dollars can go directly to program support.

We are also announcing our 2015 Festival and Special Event Calendar in this issue. Like the changing of the seasons, there have been some changes to the schedule, but also many things remain the same. The biggest change that we are announcing is that the Wings ‘N Water Benefit Auction will be moving to a new venue – and getting a new name. The auction will be held at The Reeds in Stone Harbor August 1, 2015, overlooking the marsh with a view of the Institute and a stronger focus on supporting our mission and programs in a festive and exciting new way. Please see the article that presents the events schedule.

The Institute remains busier than ever. I am proud to have my sleeves rolled up and working hard every day to continue to elevate the Institute to new levels of excellence. Our impact to serving this community – plants, animals, and people – is stronger than ever. Your support and commitment to our efforts is a critical driver. We are still Making No Small Plans. Thank you for being by our side and believing in our work. Please come by and see your support at work.