by Dr. Lenore Tedesco, Executive Director
It’s 2020, and we’re kicking off another great year at the Institute. We had so much to celebrate in 2019, our 50th Anniversary. It was a wonderful year when we all took time to learn more about our history and reconnect with old friends who make up the fabric of this great organization. I continue to be both proud and humbled by the responsibility of carrying on the great legacy set into motion by all those before us. Last year, we celebrated Herb Mills’ vision and its execution, and now we look forward to the next 50 years.
The year 2020 comes with many clichés about clarity of vision, but for The Wetlands Institute there is even more to it. With the dawn of this new decade, The Wetlands Institute is now fifty plus one and it’s time to embark on executing our vision for the future – a vision that addresses current, modern issues while remaining true to our core values.
As you know, we MAKE NO SMALL PLANS, and in the past few years, we have undertaken crucial programs to address the significant stresses that rising seas are putting on our marshes and the wildlife that depend on them. We are working to build resiliency into the marsh, and also into our facilities that support our conservation, education and outreach work. The importance and impact of our efforts are growing at a remarkable rate. This focus on resilience will be at the core of our research and conservation programs for the foreseeable future, and the outcomes will greatly affect all that we hold dear.
Last year, we launched an endowment campaign to celebrate our anniversary, but the larger – and perhaps more important – reason was to build the resources we need to execute our vision for the next fifty years. As I write this article, we are midway through the endowment campaign and the support for the Institute and our mission has been remarkable. Thus far, we have raised more than $3.3 million with funds split nearly evenly between general endowment support for operations and special projects.
We can already feel the impact of this generosity. We have been able to start new initiatives like upgrades to the aquarium, enhanced mentoring for undergraduate interns, and the monitoring of additional species of coastal birds. Although new, these projects support our core mission by allowing us to steward coastal resources, train tomorrow’s environmental professionals, and inspire a new generation to fill our shoes one day.
We have accomplished a lot in our first 50 years, but there is more to do to achieve our goals. Core programs remain in need of support, including the diamondback terrapin conservation program, environmental education programs, and our facilities. If you would like to learn how you can help, please contact me. My door is always open.