by Dr. Lenore Tedesco, Executive Director

Many people ask me if things have slowed down now that the seasons have changed. The answer may surprise you. Our full-time year-round staff of 19 are always busy but our focus changes with the seasons. The research team is still in the field, but also analyzing data, preparing reports, writing grants, presenting their work to colleagues and peers, and planning for next year’s projects. The education team is delivering scout, homeschool, and outreach programs, continuing year-round animal care, attending conferences, and revising curricula, while our communications team is keeping our members informed and the news flowing. There is much to do with planning and renovations ahead.

Research team surveying marsh vegetation

During the busier programming season, our staff numbers swell to 52 when we add educators, interns, admissions staff, and seasonal scientists and conservationists to fulfill our research, conservation, and education mission and welcome visitors. We serve more than 13,000 schoolchildren and 17,000 visitors each year, and have more than 1,300 members that come from 42 states (some from as far away as California and Hawaii) and Canada. Something you may find interesting is that only about 15 percent of our members visit the Institute. Instead, they use membership as their way to support the crucial work that we do to preserve and protect our coastal resources and teach people of all ages of the importance of these ecosystems for our well-being. They are people, like you, that know our work is accomplished because of the broad support that we receive from our members and supporters. They recognize that we keep admission and program fees artificially low so that we can make sure our programs are accessible to all. They understand that our contract and grant work is competitively won and earned anew each year, without any guarantees. We are also able to accomplish so much because some of you underwrite programs with multi-year commitments, which is critical to helping maintain program effectiveness.

Totally Turtle Tuesday at the Institute

As we look ahead to year-end, we rely on our members and supporters to once again show their commitment to ensuring that our important work can continue. We are always interested in expanding our circle of support, and one of the best ways we do this is with your help. If you are interested in supporting a specific program, there are many needs. If you would like to introduce a friend, corporation, or foundation to our work, I would welcome the opportunity to share our story. Our story is enriched by all of you and your commitment to helping us serve our mission. As year-end approaches, now is a great time to lend a hand. Thank you for all you do, this year and always.