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
Wonder of Nature
Mission
Mission

Trout Lake Nature Center’s Mission: To help create, through education, a sustainable environment where humans and the world of nature coexist in harmony.

Trout Lake Nature Center is dedicated to conserving and protecting the natural environment and educating the community 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’s environmental education begins with our “Nature Sprouts” program for 2- to 5-year-olds and continues through elementary school. Popular monthly Friday Night Naturalist programs, walks guided by subject-matter experts, and a full schedule of special events target older students, adults and families.

We believe that environmental education should ....

· Be part of every person’s education. Developing environmental values, knowledge and skills is a lifelong process ... one which will determine the long-term viability of our planet.

· Be innovative, reaching new constituencies, addressing new environmental threats and concerns, and creating learning opportunities that are relevant to our world.

· Instill values and attitudes which lead to environmentally sound behavior and actions.

· Promote the understanding of ecological concepts and processes.

· Be grounded in current environmental research and sound educational theory.

· Provide interactive experiences that cause participants to perceive their role as citizens, versus observers, of the natural world.

As our impact upon our audiences “at home” increases, we shall continue to work with the City of Eustis and Lake County to expand our environmental education program, using our public parks and facilities to increase the reach to all segments of the community.

 

 
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 $118,595.00
Projected Expenses $117,575.00
Statements
Mission

Trout Lake Nature Center’s Mission: To help create, through education, a sustainable environment where humans and the world of nature coexist in harmony.

Trout Lake Nature Center is dedicated to conserving and protecting the natural environment and educating the community 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’s environmental education begins with our “Nature Sprouts” program for 2- to 5-year-olds and continues through elementary school. Popular monthly Friday Night Naturalist programs, walks guided by subject-matter experts, and a full schedule of special events target older students, adults and families.

We believe that environmental education should ....

· Be part of every person’s education. Developing environmental values, knowledge and skills is a lifelong process ... one which will determine the long-term viability of our planet.

· Be innovative, reaching new constituencies, addressing new environmental threats and concerns, and creating learning opportunities that are relevant to our world.

· Instill values and attitudes which lead to environmentally sound behavior and actions.

· Promote the understanding of ecological concepts and processes.

· Be grounded in current environmental research and sound educational theory.

· Provide interactive experiences that cause participants to perceive their role as citizens, versus observers, of the natural world.

As our impact upon our audiences “at home” increases, we shall continue to work with the City of Eustis and Lake County to expand our environmental education program, using our public parks and facilities to increase the reach to all segments of the community.

 

 
Impact

Overview: Trout Lake Nature Center – led by its executive director, volunteer/program coordinator, and volunteer board of directors -- has managed steady growth in all aspects of its programs.

Accomplishments:

     2016 was an eventful year, with significant growth and achievements in meeting established goals. Highlights include:

· Volunteer hours increased 130%.

· Program offerings, specifically special events programming, increased 10 percent, with the addition of Treats & Trails at Halloween, Lights in the Woods during the holiday season, and Sunset at the Trout Lake Rookery, all of which attracted new visitors.

· The number of students attending education programs increased by 32%, from 5,000 to 7,332 in fiscal year 2016, reflecting expansion into central Florida communities.

· The Education Center was refurbished, with new flooring, fresh paint, and the addition of a TV system in the lobby to provide visitor information. Exhibits in the Museum and Education Center were expanded, and a new turtle enclosure was added to the live exhibit area. Access to natural areas was improved with the reconstruction of a foot bridge and upgrading of trails.

· A new educational program, our Spring Break Camp, was launched in 2016.

Looking Ahead

Our overriding goal for 2018 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.

Goals include:

· Increase diversity/Improve accessibility. Building on progress made in 2016, we continue to focus on efforts to diversify the cultural and ethnic makeup of our volunteer staff and audiences, to broaden our appeal to young adults and to improve accessibility to the trail system.

· Establishing a sustainable endowment fund for operational stability. This long-term goal will require concentrated effort over several years.

· Significant Expansion of Education Programs. We are proposing to expand, coordinate and manage environmental education programs throughout Lake County, using county parks and other facilities. The goal is to provide more comprehensive environmental education programs – with relevant “outdoor classroom” experiences in the natural world for the children and citizens of the county.

· Upgrading governance materials – plans, policies and procedures – to guide the board of directors and staff to manage growth while achieving our goals for the future.

· Align Staffing with Goals. The current part-time program assistant position will be upgraded to full-time, with a job description that reflects needs related to the expansion program.

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

TLNC’s Needs Statement:

1. Increasing Teaching Staff: TLNC’S planning includes augmenting our largely volunteer education program with paid staff as we expand its outreach within the county. In 2017, staff will increase from 1.5 to 2 full-time staff members.

2. Boardwalk Reconstruction/Covered Dock Repair: The boardwalk, both practical and picturesque, provides access to the extensive wetland habitat that surrounds our Trout Lake waterfront, providing safe access to the lake. The estimated cost of replacing and repairing the boardwalk and covered dock is $300,000 and will be phased in over several years.

3. Expansion of Trail System: A longer-term goal is to expand the trail system, adding boardwalks in wet areas, to introduce visitors and students to additional habitats.

4. Development of Interpretative Materials: Aligned with the construction of new trails and restoration of existing walkways, the long-range vision includes creation of interpretive materials – signage and exhibits – to enhance the educational experience for all visitors.

5. Major Expansion Project: TLNC is embarking on a long-term expansion program, a capital building campaign that will add classroom, museum and office space, with related improvements to parking and roadways. The goal is to raise $1,250,000.

Background

     Our culture of devotion to preservation and protection of the natural world – and the spirit of volunteerism – trace back to 1988, when Trout Lake Nature Center was created through efforts of the Ocklawaha Valley Audubon Society and community members. Together, they raised funds to purchase 130 acres of natural woodland and wetland habitat, and obtained from the City of Eustis a conservation easement for an additional 100 acres.

     From the beginning, TLNC focused on environmental education. In 1993, a museum and community meeting place were built; in 1994, we began providing environmental field trips for area schools. Educators responded enthusiastically; we trained additional volunteer instructors and developed formal curriculum correlated to state education standards.

     As public, private and charter school participation continued to increase, additional space was needed. In 1997, a new Environmental Education Building opened. We now offer programming for Pre-K to fifth grade with specialty programs to study the Florida black bear, insects and birds. Programs continually are upgraded.

     TLNC also works with scouting, 4-H and other youth organizations to teach about our natural resources and to inspire a greater connection with nature among our youth. And we offer family and adult education, including monthly naturalist programs, field excursions and “special events” such as Turtle Day. We expand our reach into adjacent counties through participation in community events, drawing new audiences to the center and its programs. An ongoing marketing/public relations/media relations program supports these initiatives.

     Facilities now include the Natural History Museum housing a collection of native wildlife, a screened picnic shelter, a turtle education area, an Environmental Education Building with seating for 125, a wildlife diorama, collections of insects, shells and fossils, several trails and foot bridges, boardwalk and decks on Trout Lake.

     TLNC has become a regional nature center serving people from Lake and surrounding counties, visitors from throughout Florida, the United States, and even internationally.

     The center is open six days a week. It is governed and managed by a volunteer board of directors, committee chairs, a full-time executive director, part-time program assistant and many volunteers.

CEO Statement

      TLNC has experienced growing pains as it expands from a small, well-hidden nature center that provided regular programs to a small audience to an active center with daily visitors and programs. Since its inception, TLNC has grown to offer regular on-site school programs for PreK to fifth grade, Nature Sprouts for 2 to 5 year olds, family-friendly programs and events, and adult education.

     TLNC started with the community gathering to “make it happen” and community support is a large reason for TLNC’s success and growth. Volunteers from all walks of the community help to maintain the property and facilities, to conduct education programs and manage educational exhibits and kiosks.

      With only two paid staff, there are limits on the number of people that can participate in TLNC’s education programs. It is very important to maintain the quality of programming that is provided by TLNC. Participation in programs and events is also limited by facilities, trails and boardwalks. TLNC is raising funds to build additional teaching, meeting and museum space to allow to expansion of programs. Eventually expansion will be taken to develop additional boardwalk and nature viewing areas.

      Maintaining trails and habitats is also problematic with limited staff and volunteers. TLNC has begun a more regular program to remove invasive exotics through National Public Lands Day event, scouting activities and more. Because of its location near homes and major roadway prescribed burning has been replaced with a process called forestry mulching. This mulching will allow for our advancing climate community to be opened up to the sun which will promote new and diversified growth. It will be important in coming years to continue with mulching and exotic controls as Florida’s climate shifts. These shifts may cause exotics to expand and spread more easily, stress forest areas and change ecosystem productivity. TLNC will work to maintain a sustainable and interconnected systems that will promote natives (plants and animals) and biodiversity.

     With the expansion of roadway systems from Orlando into Lake County, this area will begin to experience more intensive development. This will make the natural areas at TLNC an even more important resource for the community and area.

Board Chair Statement

      Several years ago, after retiring from the art and antiques business, I moved to Eustis in Central Florida. I suddenly had the amazing opportunity to build a new life as I wanted it to be. As with most people, the responsibilities of raising a family and earning a living had consumed most of my thoughts and time until then.

     I had always loved being outdoors. I enjoyed sailing and traveling. I found the world around me to be challenging and interesting but I never had time to learn much about it. When I discovered myself in a new town, with time to devote to learning new things, I realized how blessed I was to be able to shape my world from a new perspective. When one day I drove into Trout Lake Nature Center, I realized this could be the place I was searching for.

     I offered to volunteer, not knowing how they would want to use me. Alter some time doing whatever needed to be done at that moment, and learning about the organization all the while, I was invited to join the Board of Directors as secretary. It was here, as a board member, I felt I could contribute the most. I realized my skills as an entrepreneur, and my art and marketing background, were an asset to the organization.

     TLNC’s board is all volunteers, with many of its members contributing time serving on committees or as committee chairs. We have had great success with expanding our service area. What began in 1988 as a small volunteer-based organization is now a viable and important asset to the local communities of Lake County and the City of Eustis, and to the central Florida region as well.

     When the administrative director retired a few years ago, the board searched for and hired an executive director who has been extremely successful in broadening our base of activities. When we celebrated our 25th anniversary in 2014, we embarked on the next 25 years with the determination to continue to serve our community as their primary source of learning and information about the natural world. We will become the leader in environmental education.

     We have evolved from a board composed of committee chairs to a board that is more professional in its outlook. We strive to recruit new board members who have an expertise that will benefit TLNC. This is a challenge that is well worth the effort. I have found my time as president to be fulfilling and extremely rewarding. It has been my pleasure to serve with these dedicated volunteers who have only one goal: to help Trout Lake Nature Center grow and flourish.

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 April 2017, 45% 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, we 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 the Center and its programs vital for the health of the community and economy of the region.
 
 
NTEE Information
Primary Organization Type Environment
Primary Organization SubType Environmental Education
Secondary Organization Type Environment
Secondary Organiztion SubType Natural Resources Conservation & Protection
Tertiary Organization Type Science & Technology
Tertiary Organization SubType General Science
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, 45% 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 is working to connect to city sewer, build additional classrooms, offices and meeting space, and new museum through the construction of a new building, parking area and road. An 80-vehicle parking area is planned to alleviate parking issues and allow for larger and safer events. Currently, TLNC has been forced to cancel some activities because they are too popular and there is not enough parking.

     Road, sewer connection and building plans are complete. The road and sewer connection in the permitting process. A fundraising campaign began January 2017 for the new construction of the new education complex.

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

     We believe that it is important to get people outside and connect with nature. 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 is impacted by the environment and by what happens to the environment. We teach how to improve your personal health and protect 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.

     The majority of visitors to TLNC are elderly. Lake County is a retiree dominated county but the elderly tend to visit nature centers, museums, and other cultural institutions more.

     Most minorities are not involved with the environment 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 $250,000 or 20% of its $1.24 million goal. A tree survey to aid in the placement of parking, walkways and buildings was completed. 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—boardwalk, pavilion, foot bridges and trails. Either through budgeting costs or working with Eagle Scouts the existing trail system is being improved and expanded. New trail guide was completed. One foot bridge was completely rebuilt and two-thirds of another foot bridge.

     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. A local organization visits TLNC several times a week to assist with various volunteer tasks. These visits are a way for their clients to improve social skills, interact with nature and give back to the community.

     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. We have been partially successful in our outreach efforts but need to convert these contacts into visits to TLNC.

      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 have been assisting with developing a complete land management plan for the property and beginning the restoration of 11 acres from a climax community to a more diverse plant and animal community using was is called forestry mulching since prescribed burns have been unable to be conducted for many years.

     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 is intensifying to include an 11 acre site to be cleared using a process called forestry mulching. As the land recovers from the mulching, we hope to see better biodiversity of both plants and animals.

     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

Accessibility and diversity has increased through adding family-friendly programming and developing programs that tie into local events or holidays such as Trails and Treats for Halloween, Outdoor Adventure Day Camp during Spring Break week, Nature Sprouts for 2 to 5 year olds and more.

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)
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.

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 audiences either at the Nature Center or other locations.  Sometimes these programs are conducted jointly with other organizations.  Friday night naturalist is arranged for once or twice a month utilizing guest speakers.  Attendance ranges from 25 to 125 persons, dependent upon the subject. 
Population Served Adults
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.
The annual Birds and Bicyles programs was conducted in March of 2010 for the primary purpose of birdwatching. The popularity of this program was evidenced by the 100 people that attended on a frigid weather day.
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
Description

     The majority of lands at TLNC is wetlands or part of the lake. A small portion contains uplands but most is wet for part of each year. Originally, TLNC’s property was a working dairy and citrus farms.

     Since its purchase in the 1980s, the land have converted back to natural ecosystems but as time has passed it has evolved into a climax community. Climax communities are characterized by dense canopy, reduced species of plants, little understory vegetation resulting in less wildlife and diversity. To maintain healthy ecosystems, it is important to conduct prescribed burns or an alternative to open up the canopy to allow sunlight to reach the ground. This additional sunlight will allow a diverse understory vegetation to return. This in turn will allow for greater biodiversity.

     As funds permit, TLNC is using a method called forestry mulching in place of prescribed burning which is problematic due to TLNC’s urban location.

Population Served
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
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 MayorVoting
Ms. Margie LaRoe RetiredVoting
Mr.. Stan Napier Retired ChemistVotingNo
Mr. Ron Neibert City of Eustis, City ManagerVotingNo
Mr. Morris Pelham RetiredVoting
Mr. Horace Thompson Retired Civil EngineerVotingNo
Mr. Horace Thompson Retired
*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 0
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
Skip Babb Retired, Public Defender
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 157
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 transition from doing things the old way to new ways. Originally organized and run by a small group of dedicated individuals, TLNC has grown into a much larger organization with multiple programs and uses. The founding organizers provided a firm foundation to build from but now we need to look at what are the changes in environmental education, non-profit administration, communications, outreach and more. Audiences are more sophisticated and look for unique “experiences.”

     37% of visitors come from outside Lake County and present an opportunity for TLNC to become a regional resource. We aim to engage these audiences with learning about science and natural system giving them an understanding that will apply to their home regions. We are working to help these visitors to make these connections during their visit.

     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 the center 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 2017
Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2017
Documents
IRS Letter of Determination
IRS Determination Letter
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
Capital Campaign PurposeHelpCapital Campaigns are defined as a fundraising efforts over-and-above an organization's annual operating budget. Campaigns might include the purchase of land or a building, major renovations, and major equipment purchases. Endowment campaigns may also be included if the funds are legally restricted. This capital campaign is to raise funds to support the building of a one way exit road and new parking area, conversion from septic system to city sewers, and to build three buildings to house offices, museum, classrooms and meeting space. As TLNC becomes a more popular destination and multiple activities are conducted the need for additional parking and reconfiguring of traffic patterns is more important for safety reasons, protect of our natural areas and increased learning opportunities.
Campaign Goal 1250000
Capital Campaign Dates Jan 2017 - Jan 2019
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date $250,000.00 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