by Dr. Lenore Tedesco, Executive Director

Fall is in full swing as I write this and the marshes are a vibrant golden color this morning. Later stage migrants are moving through and the wintering waterfowl and raptors are returning to the marsh. It’s a beautiful time, and while the shortening days are harbingers of the winter to come, it’s also a time to take stock of the past year and look forward to the quieter days ahead and think about our winter work. One of the things I love about my work here is that the rhythm of the seasons also dictates the schedule of our projects and programs. There really is not a slow time here anymore, but there is a quieter period that brings opportunities for planning and assessment.

As I look back at 2021 so far, it has been a good year for the Institute. We have gradually seen the resumption of more normal operations. Visitors returned in healthy numbers all summer to reconnect with nature. Our Summer Nature Programs for kids were incredibly busy, with record enrollments. It was wonderful to have the undergraduate interns here again this summer. Summer Celebration was a smashing success. This fall, school and outreach programs are gradually picking up again, though the uncertainty of the unsettled times for schools will continue for a while. Many of our University partnerships for research and course-work have resumed, and we are excited to welcome visiting scientists and students back to the Institute this fall. With fieldwork winding down for the season, our scientists are busy analyzing data and writing reports.

For the next several months, the board and leadership team will be undertaking quite a bit of planning. Several long-serving board members will be finishing their service in January, creating opportunities for more junior board members to move into leadership roles, and for new board members to join in guiding our journey. At the same time, we will be planning for how best to deliver our mission as the scale and complexity of Institute operations continues to increase. There is much to do and it’s refreshing to finally be able to move past the all-consuming work of managing operations around COVID and getting back to the business of serving our mission.

Overall, this has been a remarkable year. Thanks to the steadfast commitment of the trustees, staff, and all of you – our supporters – The Wetlands Institute is strong. I am honored to lead this organization as we move boldly forward, and will be reporting on our plans in the next several issues.