Trout Lake Nature Center Inc.
520 East County Road 44
Eustis FL 32736-2518
Contact Information
Address 520 East County Road 44
Eustis, FL 32736 2518
Phone (352) 357-7536
Web and Social Media
LinkedIn
Instagram
Wonder of Nature
Mission
Mission

     TLNC's mission is to conserve and protect the natural environment and educate the public about its importance.  An educated citizenry that understands our connection to, and interdependence within, the world around us will become a vital force in protecting our water, soils, forests, wetlands, prairies, and our wildlife — our planet’s natural resources.

TLNC incorporates the following core values into its programs:
 
* Developing a sense of wonder and awe for the environment.
* Developing stewardship of the environment.
* Connecting people to the environment.
* Creating awareness and developing knowledge through high quality interpretation and education for all ages.
*  Providing hands-on experiences (nature in your hands).
* Experiencing the environment everywhere (right here, right now).
* Developing respect, camaraderie, diversity and honesty amount those involved with TLNC.
 
   We aspire to be a model of sustainable stewardship of nature. Celebrating 30 years of operations and work within the Central Florida community, TLNC is proud of the many lives it has touched through its multi-faceted programs. We continue to evolve and grow to meet the needs of residents, visitors, families and children.
 
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Eileen Tramontana
Board Chair Mr. Stan Napier
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired Chemist
History
IRS Ruling Year 1991
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph
 
 
Projected Revenue $117,400.00
Projected Expenses $1,118,864.00
Statements
Mission

     TLNC's mission is to conserve and protect the natural environment and educate the public about its importance.  An educated citizenry that understands our connection to, and interdependence within, the world around us will become a vital force in protecting our water, soils, forests, wetlands, prairies, and our wildlife — our planet’s natural resources.

TLNC incorporates the following core values into its programs:
 
* Developing a sense of wonder and awe for the environment.
* Developing stewardship of the environment.
* Connecting people to the environment.
* Creating awareness and developing knowledge through high quality interpretation and education for all ages.
*  Providing hands-on experiences (nature in your hands).
* Experiencing the environment everywhere (right here, right now).
* Developing respect, camaraderie, diversity and honesty amount those involved with TLNC.
 
   We aspire to be a model of sustainable stewardship of nature. Celebrating 30 years of operations and work within the Central Florida community, TLNC is proud of the many lives it has touched through its multi-faceted programs. We continue to evolve and grow to meet the needs of residents, visitors, families and children.
 
Impact
    2017 was a year of nature impacts starting with the driest conditions in 10 years, followed by an extremely wet summer, and finally, the visitation of Hurricane Irma.
 
Past accomplishments include:

· Over 12, 704 volunteer hours.

· Due to popularity and restrictions caused by current facilities, TLNC was forced to cancel some annual programs. In their place new family and community programs were added such as Birding4Kids, 8 Daybreak Birding and Mushroom Foray,

· The number of students attending education programs increased  from 7,332 to 8,845 in 2016-17. Overall 12,252 people participated in TLNC's education programs. Almost 12,000 people walked TLNC's trails and saw its museum and exhibits. With Outreach programs added in, TLNC interacted with 27,968 people and approximately 32% visitors came from outside Lake County.

Improvements included: 

*Rebuilding the Education Dock, Replacing hurricane damaged boardwalks and footbridges
*Expanding trail system
*Conducting foresty mulching on 11 acres in place of prescribed burning
*Removing exotics through concentrated efforts by volunteers
*Removing woody vegetation in marsh are to improve habitat
*Adding habitat boxes
*Adding interpretative displays---Watershed Model, Discovery Chest and Wingspan
 
In the coming year, TLNC will be concentrating on expanding interpretive media throughout its property. We are reducing invasive exotics and improving habitat. TLNC will complete a new land management plan to provide habitat direction for the future.  And finally, we are pursuing the dream to expand our facilities adding teaching and meeting space, with an new museum, parking area and exit road and maintenance facilities.

Our 2018goal is to expand our outreach as a valuable regional resource for environmental education and awareness. As the only Lake County nature center with active and vital programs for all ages and interests, we are well-placed, geographically, to reach populations throughout Central Florida

Independent Research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or program effectiveness? No
Needs

TLNC’s Needs Statement:

1. Staff: As TLNC grows, the need for additional qualified staff is essential. Staff needs include:

* Facilities and maintenance worker
* Resource development coordinator
* Education coordinator/instructors
* Volunteer coordinator
* Habitat/land manager

¨ FaBoardwalk Reconstruction: Although the Education Dock was rebuilt, the rest of the boardwalk remains to be rebuilt.The estimated cost of rebuilding the boardwalk is $50,000.

3. Trail System: Trail improvements have been made but additional improvements are needed to reduce habitat impacts, spread use, improve ADA compliance and increase nature opportunities with minimal impacts.

4. Interpretative Materials: Simple changes were made to TLNC's museum and exhibit areas such as an augumented-reality Watershed Model was built and Discovery Drawers developed. Simple but important progress continues both inside and outside. We need to tell stories that engage people in learning and connecting to the environment.

5. Facilities: Demand for TLNC’s programs has grown. Building adequate facilities to replace the aging museum, and providing indoor/outdoor teaching areas, and offices and smaller meeting areas is essential to meet the needs of the community (especially as Lake County’s population continues to grow).

Background

     Trout Lake Nature Center (TLNC) has been serving the central Florida community through nature education, awareness and resource conservation for 30 years. In 1988, land purchased through the efforts of the Oklawaha Valley Audubon Society (OVAS) and the community was combined with additional lands from the City of Eustis (through a conservation easement) to become the Trout Lake Nature Center.

     Based in Eustis, FL, TLNC is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation supported through donations, program fees, fundraisers, grants and a loyal membership.

      TLNC is governed by a board of directors with the able assistance of an executive director. A staff of two, assisted by a strong volunteer force, maintain facilities, habitats and programs.

     A 230-acre preserve, composed primarily of wetlands, mesic flatwoods and lake bottom, comprise TLNC’s property. Walking trails are open to the public year-round. Many trails have foot bridges to provide access over wet areas with some trails temporarily closing under wet conditions. An ADA compliant boardwalk crosses the marsh area to provide access to Trout Lake and the Education Dock. Special considerations are made when using TLNC’s wet habitats for learning experiences due to their fragile nature.

     TLNC Education programs are designed to move visitors along an interpretive continuum that begins with simple curiosity about a resource, to beginning to care, to a place of stewardship and sense of community.

    TLNC exists to deliver a message of considerate environmental awareness to the residents and visitors to central Florida. We wish to bring about transformations in individuals and communities that result in better stewardship of the environment and better personal and community health. This will happen through thoughtful communication and experiences that form emotional connections to our natural resources and just plain getting people outdoors.

Over the years, TLNC has accomplished much with limited resources. As an independent non-profit, there is no consistent source of steady income. Resources can become scarce in times of economic fluctuations. TLNC plans to grow strategically to direct efforts efficiently so they have the maximum impact.

     TLNC is planning to meet increased demand, maintain quality of programming, and to continue to protect, conserve and restore the ecosystems within its property.

 

CEO Statement

    Research demonstrates if people are raised with little or no direct connection with nature, they begin to see themselves as separate from the natural world. This can lead to fear, apathy, lack of empathy for others and disregard for nature.

     Nature deficit, or a lack of sufficient time outdoors in a natural setting, contributes to poor outcomes of chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), vitamin D deficiency, decreased happiness and well-being, and cardiovascular and respiratory illness. The exact causative mechanism between nature deficit and chronic disease has not yet been identified; however, correlational research has shown time spent in natural areas can provide measurable health benefits such as improved cardiovascular health, decreased levels of stress, improved self-esteem, and elevated mood. Spending time in nature is linked with decreased anxiety, rumination, and negative affect, as well as an increase in happiness and overall well-being.

    The lack of nature connections has lead to a health crisis. Childhood obesity rates have risen fourfold since 1971 (American Obesity Association, 2002.) Type 2 diabetes has skyrocketed. The number of children on prescription medications for ADHD increased six fold from 1990 to 2003 (Gretchen LeFever, et. Al. 2003)

     “Outdoor experiences create opportunities to generate human attachment to nature, which leads to a sense of place and belonging, which ultimately fosters environmental stewardship. Trees and other nature-based elements increase aesthetic beauty and provide mental, physical, and emotional health benefits. Nature-based interventions are important tools that can help to improve both human and environmental health.” (Robert Zarr, What about Trees?, American Public Health Association, 2017)

     TLNC has evolved from a small environmental center with presentations taking place on chairs in a field to organized programs for children, adults, families and the community.

    As Lake County and surrounding regions develop, it is even more important for TLNC to "be" bringing nature to everyone and teaching how we can create a sustainable community that values Florida's resources. Originally conceived by the community, TLNC continues to be supported by the community through its many volunteers, members, and business and community partners and more.
 
 
Board Chair Statement
     As a former chemist who worked to develop green products and traveled throughout the world, I know how important our natural resources are. When I first retired to the Eustis area, my wife suggested I become involved with TLNC. I volunteered as an education instructor, then went on to develop TLNC's On-site Wildlife Camera program. Later I restarted TLNC's monthly water quality monitoring and finally began to serve on TLNC's Board.
 
   There is nothing more rewarding that hearing a child state their visit to TLNC was better than a trip to Disney as they learn to gently hold a water scorpion in the palm of their hand. Or, to see a child unhappy with their parent's choice to send them to a TLNC program become engrossed with bird watching, following animal tracks, looking at scat, or digging in the soil.
 
   It is for the Ah!Ha! moments that I volunteer, knowing that I am able to make a difference in the world through my involvement with TLNC, leaving a legacy for my children and grandchildren. It is when I talk to a parent or grandparent who came to TLNC as a youngster now bringing their child or grandchild to experience hands-on nature at TLNC that I get goosebumps and know the education and engagement process works.
CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments
      TLNC is having visitors from many areas of the country and even outside of the country as our marketing efforts bear fruit. From June 2016 to May 2017, 32% of our visitors were from outside Lake County and in many cases outside of the US.
 
    TLNC is working to expand its audiences and invite "non-traditional" groups to visit and become part of the TLNC family. To protect our environment it is important to reach and connect with more than the "choir". 
 
     As everyone's lives are changing and becoming busier and they are experiencing a disconnect from nature. Based on research from the health industry, it is now more important than ever to connect with nature to increase physical and mental health. 
 
     It it possible that we are now seeing the first generation divorced and disconnected from nature. This could have massive consequences in the future, making TLNC and its programs vital for the health of the community and economy of the region.
    As the northern Lake County grows and develops, green space like TLNC will become more valuable to the health and sustainability of the community. It will provide a place to get back to nature, make connections and of course, learn. As the area grows, the need for expanded facilities becomes more critical and will be an area that TLNC focuses on for both the near and far future. 
 
 
NTEE Information
Primary Organization Type Environment
Primary Organization SubType Environmental Education
Secondary Organization Type Environment
Secondary Organiztion SubType Land Resources Conservation
Tertiary Organization Type Environment
Tertiary Organization SubType Forest Conservation
Areas Served
Geographic Areas Served
FL - Lake
FL - Marion
FL - Orange
FL - Seminole
FL - Sumter
FL - Volusia
FL - Winter Park
FL - Brevard
FL - Polk
     Although located in Eustis, visitors, including school children come primarily from other locations within Lake County.  Also, visitors come from neighboring counties. Using visitor sign-in logs, 32% of visitors come from outside of Lake County.
Goals
HelpWhat is the organization aiming to accomplish? This is the organization's ultimate goal for intended impact.

     TLNC’s overarching goal is to educate people—young and old—so they can make responsible decisions about growth, development and human activities—so they can help to protect and if needed restore damaged systems.

     TLNC aims to become one of the premier environmental education facilities in Florida and to serve as a nature center hub within and without Lake County.

Goal 1: Expand infrastructure to handle growth in use, replace aging buildings and increase safety.

    TLNC will connect to city sewer, build additional classrooms, offices and meeting space, and new museum, parking area and road. Currently, TLNC has been forced to cancel some activities because they are too popular and there is not enough parking. We are in the final permitting phase for road construction.

Goal 2: Get people outdoors making positive connections with nature and improving their health.

    America now has the first generation considered totally disconnected from nature. Our challenge is to engage the disconnected and plugged in—to make real connections.

     Everyone’s physical and mental health responds to what happens in the environment. Programs showing the connections between physical and mental health will be developed for and with the health care community and visitors. TLNC already offers weekly yoga classes and offers Morning health walks on our trails, evening birding hikes, and special presentations about the importance of nature to our health.

Goal 3: Diversify audiences and increase accessibility.

     Research shows nature centers visitors/audiences are aging and young people are not being engaged. Connecting with young people and new user groups requires different methods than the traditional visitor.     Many minority groups are not environmentally involved but they are interested in quality, engaging family activities. Programs such as teaching fishing, archery and other outdoor sports help to connect with these cultures.

     Purchase of a golf cart, widening of trails and foot bridges and adding paved walkways allows the physically challenged to participate. TLNC also works with several autistic and mentally challenged groups including providing on-site programs to the Lake View School for challenged students.

     We are shifting to a younger demographic as more family-friendly and youth-oriented activities are offered.

Goal 4: Develop viable, sustainable nature center network.

     TLNC is working to develop a network by partnering with Lake County and cities to enhance their parks and natural areas with nature programs. This will allow TLNC to expand its audiences and programs without having to purchase land and facilities and increase its staff through contracting with local government.

Strategies
HelpWhat are the organization's strategies for its stated long-term goals?

     For many years, TLNC planned to expand its facilities. A recently launched Capital Fundraising Campaign has raised $550,000 or 25% of its $2 million goal. (Note: This fundraising goals was recently raised to to increased construction costs.) Portions of the parking area will serve dual purposes by protecting natural areas and enhancing “meadow” areas to create small learning opportunities.

     TLNC is committed to renovating existing infrastructure and has made progress on improving boardwalks, teaching dock, trails and interpretive materials but much still remains to be done.

     TLNC is providing multiple forums (yoga classes, health walks, programs/presentations, and workshops) for sharing and discussing the latest scientific research on how environmental factors contribute to disease and disability and how green space and the environment is essential for good health. TLNC is working with health care providers, Get Outdoors Florida Coalition, and Children and Nature Network.

     TLNC is reconnecting children, their families and communities with nature through innovative programming, research-based tools and encouragement of grassroots leadership. Our aim is to make nature a part of everyday life.

     Biodiversity is a key component of any healthy ecosystem and diversity is a key component of a sustainable nature center. TLNC is connected with several organizations and groups that work with challenged individuals and TLNC is an autism-friendly business.

     In addition, TLNC is working to recruit minorities as members and volunteers. We make extra efforts to reach out to minority communities through churches, schools and community organizations. In the past year, we have been seeing better success in making these connections but need to continue our efforts.

      With a county commissioner as our champion, TLNC has begun discussions with the county and some municipalities about developing a nature center network with TLNC administering and managing the system through a contract with the government entities. Commission Parks has proposed to develop a Park Foundation which would ultimately manage this network and contract.
Capabilities
HelpWhat are the organization’s capabilities for doing this? What resources, capacities, and connections support its progress towards long-term goals?

     TLNC’s main assets are people—staff, volunteers, Board members and Advisory Council. Highly qualified staff with a variety of experience is complemented by the expertise of its volunteer core. Volunteers possess professional experience which they use to benefit TLNC. Its Board and Advisory Council also bring expertise to TLNC. Graphic, legal, forestry, water resources, building, program development, evaluation, environmental and writing are some of the areas of expertise found within TLNC.

     Another asset is its existing youth education programs. For many years, TLNC has been honing its education programs for schools and youth organizations. Through constant monitoring, self-evaluation and updating, TLNC’s programs stay current with education needs and standards while remaining engaging and a true learning experience. TLNC has a long-standing relationship with the Lake County School District to provide regular student field experiences. In addition, TLNC has a long-standing partnership with the Lake County Water Authority which provides funding to support busing, school programs and “in-school” field trips.

     Additionally, retired foresters and land managers are developing a detailed land management plan after completing a timber cruise of the property to ascertain existing plant communities and conditions.

     Recent Lake County Parks Recreation and Trails visioning pointed out the importance of making connections between Lake County parks and TLNC with TLNC potentially serving as a trail hub. At this meeting, it was also deemed as important by the public to continue and expand environmental education services.

     Future expansions of TLNC’s internal trail system and boardwalk will allow for better use of the property while limiting impacts. Building additional classroom, office and meeting spaces will allow for larger numbers of students and other groups to receive an education experiences.

     TLNC has continued to maintain a variety of partnerships ranging from local, county, state and federal agencies to other nature centers, to environmental and education organizations. Partnerships are what makes environmental education work. It cannot be effectively done without partnerships and collaborations. TLNC is an official Project Learning Tree Center and Florida Youth Conservation Camp Network partner.

     As an active member in Florida’s chapter of the Association of Nature Center Administrators, League of Environmental Educators in Florida, National Association of Interpretation, and North American Association of Environmental Education, TLNC staff and volunteers receive professional development opportunities allowing them the stay abreast of latest education practices and techniques. In return TLNC also offers professional development programs to educators.

Indicators
HelpHow will the organization know if it is making progress? What are the key qualitative and quantitative indicators against which the organization assesses its progress toward its intended impact?

     Almost since its inception, TLNC has done bird and species surveys throughout its property. TLNC ecosystems have matured and are becoming a climax community due to the lack of controlled burning. This has caused a change in plant and animal diversity. TLNC’s monitoring was intensified on the 11 acre mulched site. As the land recovers from the forestry mulching, we hope to see better biodiversity of both plants and animals.To help in planning future habitat and land management efforts a timber cruise was conducted to establish a forest inventory. This inventory will help to develop a sustainable land management plan. It is TLNC's responsibility and mission to conserve and protect its lands. This plan will provide guidance for future boards, staff and volunteers as the habitat changes over time.

     In addition to tracking habitat and natural systems, TLNC tracks visitor use through a variety of methods. Visitor sign-in logs, event and program counts, and trail cameras provide us with a variety of data about visitor use. Off-site event counts only include people who stop to have a prolonged conversation or take part in an activity. We only count those who are engaged and learning at our exhibits or displays.

     All school-based programs are evaluated and data used to improve existing programs or develop new programs. Teachers complete evaluation forms and students provide thank you notes that allow us to see what was learned.

     As our programs have expanded and included more family events, we are seeing an increase in younger audiences and non-traditional audiences. We will continue to monitor use data to learn where our visitors come from and what they learned. 45% of our visitors come from outside Lake County, Florida or even the country.

     Through this wealth of information, we have been able to see our growth in many areas. Last year for instance we increased our volunteer hours by 130% to a dollar value of $301,128. The number of students and adults and families participating in our Environmental Education programs, outreach contacts, visitors, show the progress we have made from a small all-volunteer organization to this wonderful asset to the central Florida community.

     We will know we are making progress when we can fund our new buildings, parking area and roads. We will know when we have expanded our program throughout Lake County creating a viable network of environmental education programming for students, families and the community. We will also know as we continue to attract energetic and enthusiastic volunteers to help expand our studies, trails and programs while being able to maintain and enhance what already exists.

 
Progress
HelpWhat has and hasn’t been accomplished so far?

The TLNC Board identified four long-term goals for the sustainability of the organization as it grows and expands.

1. Develop plans, policies and procedures for board governance

2. Raise a $3 million endowment for operational stability

3. Develop adequate staff and volunteers

4. Increase accessibility and use.

With the advent if its first executive director, TLNC has modernized and improved its record keeping, security and technology systems. Policies and procedures have been developed and improved with some policies in the draft stage.

Most of TLNC’s revenue comes from governmental sources which are vulnerable to the vagaries of politics. For that reason, the establishment of an endowment is imperative for the long-term health of TLNC. Minimal progress has been made toward establishing a $3 million endowment. As we continue our capitol building fundraising, potential endowment donors are identified. A program to network with estate and financial planners, and trust departments was implemented and will help with raising funds for the endowment and building fund jointly.

Staffing has improved with the addition of a full-time executive director who is also an educator and a full-time Volunteer and Education Coordinator. Full-time staff with much needed skills is essential to keeping TLNC moving forward.

Volunteer recruitment is a constant need but volunteer retention is also important. TLNC is known as a good place to volunteer where you can make a difference. There are a variety of jobs for volunteers and everyone can contribute. In TLNC’s reporting year for 2016-17, almost 13,000 hours were provided by TLNC’s many volunteers

During the past summer, much needed improvements were made. Worn carpeting and flooring was replaced along with painting all buildings. A lobby television displays upcoming events and the plants, animals and people at TLNC. Many existing kiosks have been updated using professionally printed display panel instead of laminated photos. New kiosks have also been added as time and fund have permitted. Outdoor pollinator garden was added and then expanded and includes a Solitary Bee House.

The natural history museum and other display areas are being reorganized to tell a story or interpretative theme—Wetlands, Watersheds and Wildlife. Animal habitats have been upgraded to increase visibility and learning opportunities. An augmented reality watershed model is being constructed to allow visitors to interact with a watershed to be able to understand how watershed function and humans affect them.

We are proud of what we have accomplished will continue efforts to improve the visitor’s experience and learning.

Programs
Description

      TLNC began with one or two field trips to local schools and has grown to providing over 65 field trips per school year with up to 50 students actively participating. All school programs are aligned with state science standards and are regularly updated to stay current with state standards and best teaching practices.

      On-site field experiences involve four different hands-on programs that focus on teaching grade-level appropriate lessons using TLNC’s property and exhibits as learning centers. Students are divided into four groups and rotate through the four lessons.

      When teaching programs are updated, instructor training is revised so instructors can teach the new material and are very familiar with any background knowledge. TLNC instructors receive monthly training in science concepts, implementation of programs, group dynamics, and more. Each instructor is thoroughly trained before being allowed to teach a program. Most instructor begin their training by shadowing. This allows them to learn the material and see how other already trained instructors implement the lessons.

Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service. Participation in education programs continue to grow with more students and classes attending each year. Programs have grown from less than 5,000 to almost 9,000 participants. As grade-level programs have been updated and enhanced, teacher evaluations have shown that TLNC's new programming is on target and meets their education goals.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
Measurement of long term success is elusive since the children often only have one visit to Center.  Also, distances limit the ability to increase the participation from visits to Center.  An expanded program of visitations to schools would be beneficial but not as effective.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.

      All school education programs have teacher evaluations conducted at the end of the experience. Teacher evaluations help to guide any updates or changes in the education programs. Teachers will quickly inform us if certain elements or concepts are not working. Feedback is essential to any program changes that are made and adjustments are made.

      TLNC also received student thank you cards from many of the classes that attend TLNC programs. Each card is reviewed to determine the highlights or teaching points that made an impression and were noted in the student notes. They can provide insight into what the students focused on or learned.

Examples of SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.
     A recent fourth-grade student made the statement "Yesterday I wondered, today I learned and tomorrow I will do" while participating in a program at the Education Dock and holding a water scorpion. Another child attended a Birding4Kids programs at the behest of his mother. He did not want to attend and knew he wouldn't have any fun. Halfway to the program, he turned and made the statement that he was having the best day of his life and urged his mother to sign him up for TLNC's Spring Break Adventure Day Camp.
     Interactions with students, families and adults like this, shows the success of making nature connections, creating awareness and beginning to develop understanding of our natural systems.
Description

      TLNC works with many youth organizations to provide education programs tailored for the specific needs of the organization. Scout programs that provide information about trees and plants, hiking, nature ethics, wildlife and community services. 4H and other youth groups also come to TLNC to learn about the environment or to take part in community service projects. Programs are tailored to meet the needs of the visiting group and include survival, black bears, water, wildlife and more.

Population Served Adults
Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
A new museum/aquatics lab and expanded trails will help attract additional visitors.  Eventually other sites will be linked via walking and riding trails.
Description

     Monthly Friday Night Naturalist programs that feature a variety of speakers on topics that range from black bears to mushrooms to climate change are conducted. Typically between 40 and 80 people attend these events. A variety of field trips, workshops and events are held to get adults involved in outdoor experiences. These include guided nature hikes, bird surveys, moonlight hikes, star-gazing and more.

     Environmental education programs are conducted for adult and family audiences either at the Nature Center or other locations.  Sometimes these programs are conducted jointly with other organizations. Examples of these programs are:  Birding4Kids, Daybreak Birding, Turtle Day, Indian River Lagoon Trip, and Mushroom Forays.
Population Served Adults
Families
Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.
The number and variety of programs have grown but are limited by our parking and facilities. Some programs have been cancelled due to their popularity and TLNC's limited parking. This is definitely a measure of our success and the parking issue is being addressed through our plans to build a new parking area.
 
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state. Success is measured by the number of participants both new and returning. It is also assessed by having participants take part in more than one program. Currently, approximately 26,000 people were touched by TLNC programming. Another factor of success will be the number of people who volunteer or become members. This shows a willingness to support TLNC and the environment.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.
Attendance is tracked for the various programs.  Donations are accepted. 
Examples of SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.
At the Birding4Kids, a child was forced to attend by a parent. He did not want to be there. Halfway through the event, he turned as stated this was the best day of his life. He later urged his mother to sign him up for TLNC's Spring Break Adventure Day Camp because of the fun he had. At this event, two people became members and several signed up to become volunteers.
 
Description

     TLNC works with many groups, organizations and agencies to help to conserve and protect natural areas. An important part of conservation, is understanding how natural systems function and the ecological and economic values of these lands. TLNC works to teach the science of ecosystems, wildlife interactions and many other important biological functions of these lands.

Population Served Adults
Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.
TLNC's conservation efforts are difficult to measure since it is providing education about different environmental issues and problems to motivate people to become involved and part of developing solutions. When a local issues arises, many people contact TLNC to find out about the science concepts behind the issues. Contacts can vary and are not consistent.
Examples of SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success. Recently, Lake County passed a fertilizer landscaping ordinance that was spearheaded by a group of local environmentalists. TLNC was able to provide voters with information about types of fertilizers, proper methods of application, pros and cons of different types and timing. We were also able to spread the word about becoming involved and expressing your opinion. We did not advocate for any particular viewpoint but allowed the individual to make up their minds based on science.
Description

     TLNC's habitat is primarily composed of wetlands and lake with minimal upland areas. Historically, it was a mesic flatwoods that was converted into a citrus grove and dairy. Since establishment of TLNC, the land has become overgrown and has become a "climax" community with minimal biodiversity. Climax communities are characterized by dense canopy, reduced plant species, and little understory resulting in less wildlife and diversity. To maintain healthy ecosystems, it is important to  to open up the canopy through control burns or alternative. Burning also helps to control invasive exotics. Opening the canopy allows sun to reach the ground and increases plant diversity.

    TLNC is using forestry mulching in place of burning to open the canopy. Also, TLNC is working to contain, reduce and if possible eliminate exotics such as Chinese tallow, Brazilian pepper, camphor and Caesar's weed. All efforts are being directed by a land management plan under development.
Population Served General/Unspecified
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service. Short term success is being measured by the increase wildlife diversity on the already mulched 11 acres and hand harvested additional acreage. With the wetter conditions, most of Lake County is experiencing an increase in invasives. TLNC is also have an exotic invasion. Controlling exotics will be an on-going process but success is determined by the elimination of certain infestation areas. We must remain constantly vigilant to find new areas and begin controlling them.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
Bird survey, timber cruises, plant and wildlife surveys will show if we are able to restore TLNC's lands to a mesic flatwoods. The reduction of large areas of invasives will also show our success. Land management efforts are ongoing and needs will change based on climate, weather and other factors. Hurricanes, droughts, flooding all effect the habitat and cause different results.
 
As restoration becomes more successful, we will see open areas with greater plant and animal diversity providing better opportunities to learn about conservation, restoration and how natural systems function and constantly change.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact. Wildlife surveys, timber cruising and staff walks in less traveled areas. Picture posts will be established to monitor habitat transitions too.
Examples of SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success. Increased bird and butterfly diversity has already occurred on the 11 acres mulched. Some small areas where the canopy was reduced are also seeing better wildlife visits. These sites are monitored by wildlife cameras and individuals.
Description

      TLNC serves as the leader in environmental education professional development in Lake and surrounding counties for both formal and non-formal educators. National and state programs such as Project WET, Project WILD, Project Learning Tree, Growing up WILD, and Florida Black Bear are offered throughout the year.

      Professional development helps to prepare teachers for their student field trips and provides them with lessons and activities that they can use back in their classrooms as follow-up lessons. Training is structured to meet the Department of Education’s requirements and in-service points are offered.

      Recent workshops included PLT’s Southeastern Forests Climate Change, Project WET and STEM. Workshops vary from 40 hours to 6 hours in length. They include classroom instruction coupled with hands-on teaching experiences along with how to use technology
Population Served General/Unspecified
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact. All workshops contain an evaluation component and meet required State of Florida professional development requirements. Each program also requires submission of facilitator evaluations and workshop assessments. Each participant must complete pre/post surveys to show knowledge gains.
Examples of SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success. A recent combined Climate Change and Project WET professional development workshop was completely filled with a waiting list. At the conclusion of the workshop, TLNC facilitators continued to receive emails from participants with environmental questions and interest in other programs.
Comments
CEO Comments

      TLNC has begun a dialogue with Lake County about establishing a network of nature centers throughout the county using the expertise of TLNC—its staff and volunteers. TLNC’s education program have withstood the test of time and lessons learned in their development and regular implementation can be used in developing education programs for other nature centers.

      TLNC has experience in recruiting staff, contractors and volunteers to implement these programs. Again, this experience would be invaluable in developing a network of center in Lake County. As the experts, TLNC proposes to work with the county to develop nature center which would allow larger audiences to be reached, remove the travel barrier for many, and allow programs that feature other types of ecosystems to be incorporated into the environmental education ethos in Lake County.

      TLNC will be working with an interested county commissioner to encourage local municipalities and other organizations to “buy-into” developing and implementing environmental programming throughout Lake County as has been done in many other counties.

      One of the biggest challenges facing TLNC is sustainable growth—managing expansion of programs while maintaining quality of programming. By expanding to other locations, TLNC will be able to duplicate and adapt existing programs without impacting its main campus’ resource base.

      As one of the fastest growing counties with one of the largest minority populations, it is important that all members of the community have an opportunity to learn about their “county backyards”. Although a fast-growing county, Lake County is not a wealthy county with many residents with limited incomes, TLNC will need to be financially creative to be able to fund future expansion of programs and staffing. All independent nature centers and most non-profits struggle with matching programming/staffing to funding. This will remain a challenge but TLNC has a history of pinching each penny and then squeezing it a little more.

      People involved with TLNC are passionate about nature, they recognize the beauty of Florida and want to share the joy in their hearts that feel when they see a sunset, hear a bird sing or watch a butterfly land on a flower. We are pb&j nature—passion, beauty and joy
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Stan Napier
Company Affiliation Retired Chemist
Term Jan 2017 to Dec 2019
Board Co-Chair
Board Co-Chair
Board
Board Members
NameCompany AffiliationsStatusCertificate*
Mr. Stuart Anderson Retire, College ProfessonVotingNo
Ms. Dee Bender Retired, Accounting fieldVotingNo
Ms. Joan Bryant retiredVotingNo
Mr. Michael Holland Former City MayorVotingNo
Ms. Margie LaRoe RetiredVotingNo
Mr.. Stan Napier Retired ChemistVotingNo
Mr. Ron Neibert City of Eustis, City ManagerVotingNo
Mr. Morris Pelham RetiredVotingNo
Mr. Horace Thompson Retired Civil EngineerVotingNo
*This individual has been awarded a Certificate in Orientation to Board Service by the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership at Rollins College ebi.rollins.edu,
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 3
Board Ethnicity
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 8
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Other (if specified) 0
Policies
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Standing Committees
Standing Committees
Committee Name
Executive
Fiscal Affairs
Nominating
Additional Board/s Members and Affiliations
Advisory Board
NameCompany Affiliation
Virginia Barker Retired, Nonprofit Executive Director
Fred Hunter Scrub Habitat Manager
Dr. Chuck Kegley Board Midland State, American Lung Association
Peter Kehde Retired, Lake Sumter State College
Bill Milton Retired, Lake County Judge
Mike Perry Executive Director, Lake County Water Authority
Colleen Rotella Retired, Director of Seminole County Natural Resource Dept.
Mike Stephens Senior Vice-President, United Southern Bank
B.E. Thompson Director, Lifestream Foundation
Comments
CEO Comments

Collaboration is required to be successful. When developing lessons, TLNC collaborates with well-known curricula developers such as Vick Crisp, EE consultant and Department of Education contractor.

When providing professional development training, TLNC works with national programs such as Project WILD, Project WET, and Project Learning Tree. Through these programs, TLNC is able to provide educators with valuable classroom resources.

As a member of the Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA) TLNC serves as an information resource for existing and new nature centers in Florida. We share our knowledge with others so they can benefit from our experience. Reaching out to ANCA members within and out Florida, TLNC receives education, insurance, software and business solutions.

TLNC is a long-time partner with the Florida Youth Conservation Camp Network (FYCCN). Through FYCCN, TLNC accesses equipment such as archery targets, bows and arrows, fishing supplies, and education materials for youth events. TLNC has helped train other FYCCN partners and is always willing to share our experience.

TLNC works with federal and state agencies and environmental groups to promote their programs, share resources and to bring these experts into the community

CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director Eileen Tramontana
Term Start May 2014
Email tlnc.director@gmail.com
Experience
Executive Director Trout Lake Nature Center from 2014 to Present
Manage 230-acre nature center with 26,000 contacts annually.
Environmental Program Coordinator/Educator, Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center, Inc.
Responsible for all education programs and infrastructure and volunteer programming.
Education Specialist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge and Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery
Responsible for outreach and volunteer programs at hatchery and national wildlife refuge.
Environmatl Education Specialist (OPS), FL. Department of Environmental Protection
Provide professional development training to educators in Florida charter schools related to environmental education.
Education Coordinator (part-time contractor), Oakland Nature Preserve
Contracted to assist with development of new programs, strategic plan, policies and procedures and Guide Star online submissions.
Education Coordinator, St. Johns River Water Management District
 Created and implemented education and volunteer activities in Flagler and Volusia counties. Revised education and volunteer programs due to major staffing and program changes while maintaining educational integrity and volunteer involvement.
Education and Volunteer Manager, St. Johns River Water Management District
Create, develop and implement youth, adult and community education programs in 18-county region. Manage Watershed Action Volunteers in a 14-county region with an average of 800 to 1,500 volunteers.
Other skills
  • Contract management
  • Grant writing and administration
  • Long range or strategic planning
  • Social marketing
  • Meeting, planning and group facilitation
  • Volunteer management
  • Program evaluation and development
  • Business management
 
CEO Salary Range $50,001 - $75,000
Staff
Number of Full Time Staff 2
Number of Part Time Staff 0
Number of Volunteers 168
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate 100%
Senior Staff
Title Volunteer and Program Coordinator
Experience/Biography Ms. Peterson is a former classroom teacher who also has experience in the retail and marketing industry. Although fairly new to volunteer management, many of the skills she developed in the classroom--organization, communication, inspiration, focus--are important skills in volunteer and program management.
Other
Collaborations
  Occasionally there are joint programs with Okalawaha Valley Audubon Society, usually involving bird watching at different sites.  The Lake County Water Authority provides some financial support and small grants, which results in some joint programs.  These include Birds and Bicycles and Splash Night.
Affiliations
AffiliationYear
Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA)2014
League of Environmental Educators in Florida (LEEF)2000
Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST)2014
Florida Marine Science Educators Association (FMSEA)2014
National Association for Interpretation (NAI)2014
North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE)2014
Risk Management Provisions
Risk Management Provisions
Workers Compensation and Employers' Liability
CEO Comments

     One of the challenges facing TLNC is to continue the momentum created by upgrading facilities, improving programs and creating new energy with the addition of full-time staff and an executive director. New volunteers have been recruited which also brings a new synergy to the organization. Visible progress has been made and TLNC looks like a well-cared for and loved nature center. We have received the endorsement of both the city and county commissions and reached out to Rep. Sullivan and Sen. Baxley who are sponsoring appropriation bills to support TLNC's planned expansions.

     As audiences become more sophisticated and look for unique “experiences", TLNC must adapt its programs to meet the changing needs of upcoming generations. Part of the TLNC experience is to provoke thoughtful thinking and to become part of a community working towards the greater good. Each generation looks for information in different ways and TLNC must vary its programs, presentations and interpretation to achieve success.

     32% of visitors come from outside Lake County and present an opportunity for TLNC to become a regional resource. We are engaging these audiences in learning about science and natural system giving them an understanding that will apply to their home regions. We are seeing more and more participants coming from outside Lake County which helps to educate a more diverse audience while being an economic driver for the region.

     We are also working to encourage repeat visitors and to have younger people become involved with TLNC both as visitors and volunteers. We are seeing some success with appealing to younger folks by offering family programs and just getting young people involved who bring their friends.

     Minorities in another area what many nature centers and museums struggle to engage. TLNC has a large group of minorities that attend school programs. At these programs they are invited to return with their parents to visit. We are seeing parents being taken around TLNC by these students who are excited to share what they learned.

     TLNC works with many autistic individuals and groups. We are considered an autism-friendly facility. We will continue to work with challenged individuals and groups to allow them to share the joy of nature too.

     As TLNC launches a capital campaign to fund much-needed buildings, we are strengthening our community network and expanding it with new connections. This is presenting TLNC with the opportunity to continue to have good community support into the future.

State Registration Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Expiration Month Nov
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Expiration Year 2018
Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2018
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2018
Documents
IRS Letter of Determination
IRS Determination Letter
Other Financial Documents
YearDocument
2018Budget
2018Balance Sheet
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$0$0$0
Government Contributions$157,565$86,408$70,750
Federal$0$0$0
State$0$0$0
Local$0$0$0
Unspecified$157,565$86,408$70,750
Individual Contributions$93,923$43,564$32,129
$0$0$0
$802($899)$631
Investment Income, Net of Losses$2,228$1,556$1,413
Membership Dues$5,830$5,445$8,215
Special Events$1,301$6,477$6,920
Revenue In-Kind$2,511$700$0
Other$0$0$0
Expense Allocations
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$88,645$79,719$71,548
Administration Expense$20,344$19,339$17,241
Fundraising Expense$7,003$6,752$5,583
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses2.281.351.27
Program Expense/Total Expenses76%75%76%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue3%5%5%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$859,083$708,598$671,403
Current Assets$427,618$313,217$309,228
Long-Term Liabilities$1,289$1,728$1,215
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$857,794$706,870$671,403
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountGovernment unspecified $157,565Government unspecified $86,408Government unspecified $70,750
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountIndividuals, foundations and corporations $93,923Individuals, foundations and corporations $43,564Individuals, foundations and corporations $32,129
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountMembership dues $5,830Special events $6,477Membership dues $8,215
Solvency
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? Yes
Campaign Goal 2000000
Capital Campaign Dates Jan 2017 - Jan 2020
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date $0.00 as of Jan 2017
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes
Comments
CEO Comments

      Funding new buildings is critical to improving and expanding our education programs. As Lake County and especially norther Lake County development TLNC will face an increasing demand for services. It will become one of the few green spaces in the area and currently is the only nature center in Lake County.

      TLNC has been typically supported by the community and city and county government grants. The Lake County community consists primarily of retirees often on fixed incomes. Lake County has limited large businesses able to support a nature center. It is anticipated that raising funds will take from two to three years.

      The new buildings and outside areas are designed to meet LEED Silver standards although certification will not be sought due to costs. A solar system is planned to run both inside and outside the buildings and all air conditioning with a little leftover for use in the existing Education Building. This will make the structures a demonstration on sustainable building and allow TLNC to “walk the talk”.

      The design of the building will also provide shaded and screened outdoor teaching space. The museum will house new and more up-to-date, interactive exhibits to enhance self-guided learning but also for school programs.

      It will be a challenge to raise fund for the building and maintain the acquisition of funds to keep existing infrastructure functioning until they can be replaced. TLNC has been undergoing upgrades to both indoor and outdoor interpretative space. This will continue but many of the upgrades can be used in the new buildings once complete.

Foundation Comments
Financial information taken from 990's.  Audits were not provided.  990 was prepared by organization.
2009:  All direct public support is included in total for individuals, as it was not separated on the 990EZ.
Foundations, corporations and congregations were included with individuals as they were not separated in the 990.
 
Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
Notes Programs listed here are those that are only activated during a disaster. Some organizations have unified budgeting and do not budget by program. Because of this, some budget fields may be blank or represent an approximation. Organization describes previous experience during the immediate response, recovery or rebuilding phases following a disaster.
Nonprofit Trout Lake Nature Center Inc.
Address 520 East County Road 44
Eustis, FL 327362518
Primary Phone (352) 357-7536
Contact Email tlnc.dirtector@gmail.com
CEO/Executive Director Eileen Tramontana
Board Chair Mr. Stan Napier
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired Chemist
Year of Incorporation 1991