by Dr. Lenore Tedesco, Executive Director

As I think about the final quarter of 2020, I do so with weary eyes. This has been a year of challenges for The Wetlands Institute. I know that most, if not all of you can relate because of the challenges faced by you and your families. The Wetlands Institute faced the stress of closure and remote work that has been gradually eroding the fabric of our staff family. With great effort, we have managed to adapt to the added burden of reduced staffing and changing research protocols to meet our conservation goals. The need to contend with widespread cancellations in our visitor programs, special events, and education programs has been our most daunting challenge. We are not alone. The impact of COVID-related closures on environmental education and nature centers nationally has been acute.

I am proud to say that through the process of adaptation this year, I learned the strength of resiliency. We worked to transform our Summer Celebration, creating an entirely online event. We found in our new approach that we were able to tell our story to many more of you, and to build awareness of the Institute and its programs to a broader constituency.

Our educators continue to work to reimagine essentially all that they do. They were able to bring the summer camp essence of our Summer Nature Program to life by creating exciting activities of exploration and discovery for families at home. They built on this approach to launch an expanded homeschooling program, which extends beyond the traditional homeschooling family to include enhancements to help all families who suddenly find their children struggling with virtual schooling. There is so much more we will have to do.

We recognize that the strength of The Wetlands Institute is in the connections that we help people make with the natural world. Providing engaging exploration of the natural world is at the heart of what we do. Connecting people with nature is a core competency of the Institute. We will remain true to our core, and develop new ways that allow us to deliver even better than before.

As this pandemic continues to impact our lives, we are all forced to ask questions that go well beyond the timeline for the return to normal. Instead, we are considering the ways that things will permanently change. We continue to face a long and difficult road, but we are a strong organization. Our commitment to our staff and core programs will not falter. Our mission and vision are sound and clear, and we will continue to focus our efforts to realize them.

As we work to close out 2020, I look to all of you – our friends and supporters – to consider how you can help. Your support has made us strong. The increase we have seen in your generosity this year has made all the difference. It has given us the power to meet these challenges head on. Most importantly, it has given us hope. Your gifts and donations send a loud and resounding message to the staff family here that what they do matters, that you believe in The Wetlands Institute, our work, and its importance. That is perhaps the biggest gift of all. Your continued support through these incredible times will remain a vital pillar of strength.

If you have ideas or ways you think you can help, or if you need to reconnect, my door remains open. Stand with us now and renew your commitment to the greatness we will continue to be.