Winter 2014 – As I write this column, The Institute has just shifted to our winter hours. It’s a bitter sweet time for us. The Institute is quiet most of the week and we all miss the energy, excitement and discovery of our visitors.

It’s an important time for the Institute as staff shift their attention and focus to strategic endeavors related to planning and implementing new programs, increasing operational efficiencies, and updating and maintaining the physical plant and our programs.

This winter we are busy repairing and updating the Tower, implementing new operations to support research programs, creating new terrapin-based activities for teachers, designing new signage for the walkway, and creating some new exhibits in the aquarium. We remain very busy and it’s refreshing to change our focus seasonally.

It’s also a time for reflection. We have had an amazing year and have accomplished so much. We have all of you, our members and supporters to thank. The walkway has provided unparalleled access to the marsh we all love without overly impacting it. Your support and donations have made the walkway a reality and enriched all that we do.

We are so thankful to the people that have contributed to our Capacity Building Initiative and supported the growth in staff and the enhancement of our facilities to support the diversification of programs. Special thanks to Ray and Ellen Burke, The Davenport Family Foundation, Dr. Connie Dent, Bert DeVries, Anne Galli, Dr. Ann Gundry, Julian and Betsy Miraglia, Wayne and Kay Renneisen, Chip and Nancy Roach, Hank and Julia Schellenger, Jim and Barbara Summers, Spike and Mary Yoh, and Ken and Jennifer Zeigler.

Major gifts have made it all possible, but we still have a long way to go. Your contributions make a difference for the plants and animals of coastal and wetland ecosystems every day and fuel the achievement of our mission.

If you would like to learn more about the Capacity Building Initiative and how you can help, please contact me. We are making no small plans, and our progress is evident every day. Join us on the road to excellence.