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Volunteer Spotlight: Darlene Letnes

by Brittney Gonzalez, ENC Communications Intern Museum Docent and 2015 ENC Volunteer of the Year Darlene Letnes has volunteered at the Environmental Nature Center for nearly a decade. When she moved to Newport Beach forty-six years ago she discovered the Environmental Nature Center and enjoyed frequent strolls along the trails. She started volunteering in 2009 and has continued to enjoy the facility since then – volunteering twice a week – greeting children and their parents passing through. Darlene is a retired school teacher, so the children who take field trips here or visit with their families bring her great joy. “When Darlene is here volunteering you’ll rarely see her sitting at the front desk,” said ENC Assistant Director Lori Whalen. “Darlene is usually hanging our…

Volunteer Spotlight: Jeff Stuckhardt

volunteer (noun): a person who voluntarily undertakes a service. – Merriam-Webster Dictionary This is exactly what Jeff Stuckhardt does. He serves. Over the past year, Jeff has volunteered more than 400 hours at the ENC. Beginning as a Museum Docent, he greeted guests and provided information about the center. When he expressed interest in teaching, the ENC staff jumped at the chance to bring him onto the Naturalist team. Jeff’s master’s degree in teaching science and experience as a former middle school science teacher certainly came in handy! “It doesn’t get any better than a volunteer who knows science and knows teaching and wants to give his time freely to something he cares about and believes in. The world would be a better place if…

Help Wanted! Great teen leaders!

Help Wanted! Here at the ENC we are looking for some fantastic teens to volunteer in great leadership positions! The Environmental Nature Center has begun accepting applicants for our Leaders in Training program. During this program teens will be given the opportunity to lead kids through instruction and by example in all sorts of nature and science activities. These “LITs” will guide kids through fun-filled activities where they will learn various leadership skills and understand what it means to be a role-model. “Our young campers really look up to their teen leaders and emulate their behaviors,” says Lori Whalen, the education director for the ENC. “If an L.I.T. brings a reusable water bottle to camp, you will frequently see his or her campers bring one the…

Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Krasel

Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer. Mike Krasel has been doing more for the Environmental Center since 2001 and we wanted to recognize him for all his hard work throughout the years. Mike puts his heart in to everything he does and devotes his time in service of nature, the Newport Community, and the Environmental Nature Center. Mike has been volunteering at The Environmental Nature since 2001 and has been impacting the community and everyone around him since then. In 2003 ENC named him volunteer of the year. Mike Krasel is a unique individual and his passion for nature shines out of him. He always has a positive attitude and willing to help wherever help is needed. He has dedicated his…

Intern Shelly says Goodbye

During my time interning at the Environmental Nature Center, I was given the opportunity to learn more about nonprofits and the hard work and dedication that goes into making the ENC the successful organization it is today. I had the pleasure of working alongside the fun personalities of the ENC staff, all of whom show extreme passion for nature and education. While interning at the ENC, I learned the importance of communicating information of news and events in order to engage the public with everything the ENC has to offer. I also got to partake in promoting fun classes and events at the ENC. I was given the opportunity to post on social media platforms and I learned how to create intriguing social media posts…

WANTED: Leaders in Training

The Environmental Nature Center is accepting applications again for its Leaders in Training program! The program provides a great opportunity for high school students to exercise important skills in passing on knowledge to the next generation of young Nature Lovers. By leading projects during school break camps, they provide kids with a chance to explore different methods of environmental stewardship through both instruction and example. “Our young campers really look up to their teen leaders and emulate their behaviors,” says Lori Whalen, the education director for the ENC. “If an L.I.T. brings a reusable water bottle to camp, you will frequently see his or her campers bring one the next day. If the campers see an L.I.T. picking up trash, you are sure to see…

Habitat Helpers program teaches volunteers about the detrimental effects of non-native invasive weeds

The ENC is host to a variety of volunteer opportunities ranging from Museum Docent to Faire Volunteer, but it’s no secret that the ENC’s 3.5 acres of natural habitat needs more than a few helping hands to keep it healthy. Our incredible plant communities are here for the public to enjoy and explore, but they also provide a service learning opportunity for our community. With volunteers meeting regularly, our Habitat Helpers restoration programs are geared towards that purpose. After all, what would such an accessible ecosystem be without a healthy dose of service, education, and teamwork? “Volunteers learn what a weed is and how they can be detrimental to native ecosystems,” says Mike, the ENC’s Grounds Manager. “These weeds outcompete native plants and take water…

And the ENC’s 2014 Volunteer of the Year is….

This year’s volunteer of the year has been volunteering twice a week at the ENC since February 2011 – over 400 hours each year, over 1500 hours so far.  Can you imagine working 1500 hours for FREE!? As a Museum Docent he is the first face people see when they enter the ENC’s Nature Museum.  He greets visitors and answers their questions.  His role is not glamorous, but vital none-the less! The thing is, our Volunteer of the Year actually has done some pretty glamorous things (see below)!  The “behind the scenes” people rarely receive the recognition they deserve; but I want to take this opportunity to thank the 768 volunteers who gave 10,913 hours of their time last year to help the ENC provide…

Teen volunteers wanted as “Leaders in Training”!

The Environmental Nature Center is still accepting applications for Leaders in Training for this Summer’s Nature Camp. If you enjoy working with children and are interested in gaining more experience doing so, apply now! Previously referred to as Junior Naturalists, Leaders In Training will volunteer at Nature Camp this summer to work and interact with campers in an outdoor setting. Leaders in Training work alongside camp teachers supervising the campers, assisting campers in crafts and science experiments, leading hikes, teaching about nature, and more! This is an excellent opportunity that provides participants with tangible teaching and childcare experience.  It looks great on your resume or college application. The Environmental Nature Center is  still accepting applications to volunteer as a Leader in Training during summer camp,…

ENC recruiting Assistant Camp Director Interns

The Environmental Nature Center is currently recruiting Assistant Camp Directors for Summer Camp.  The ENC Assistant Camp Director position is an unpaid internship for high school students that have been Junior Naturalists at the ENC in the past.  It’s an awesome experience to add onto your résumé and college application. The Assistant Camp Director works in conjunction with the Camp Director and Teachers to ensure that campers experience quality education through hands-on experience with nature.  If you are interested in applying, please take a look at the job description.  Apply by submitting this application.  This year’s Summer Camp session dates are listed HERE.  – Lori Whalen, Education & Community Relations Director

Junior Naturalist Recruitment has begun!

The Environmental Nature Center (ENC) is once again recruiting teenagers with a passion for the environment and education to be Junior Naturalists.  Junior Naturalists help teach and supervise campers during Nature Camps.  The program helps broaden teens’ leadership and communication skills. “The Junior Naturalist program provides an excellent experience to include on a resume or college application,” said Education and Community Relations Director Lori Whalen.  “Each year I watch proudly as teenagers with whom I’ve worked are accepted into prestigious universities.  I am always thrilled to be asked to write a letter of recommendation for a college or internship application.” The Junior Naturalist program was established in 1977.  About 80 Junior Naturalists work at the ENC each year, volunteering a combined 2800 hours. “I was…

Local Teen awarded ENC Volunteer of the Year Award

Environmental Nature Center (ENC) volunteer Emma Kensington was awarded the ENC’s Volunteer of the Year Award yesterday at the Taste of Twilight member appreciation dinner. Despite the demands of normal teenage life, the 17-year-old Newport Beach resident volunteered over 300 hours at the ENC over the past three years. “I love to volunteer at the ENC because I love seeing children enjoy the learning process,” said Kensington.  “I will never forget all of the amazing experiences I have had at the ENC, where I was inspired to be my own true self and person. I learned many skills and developed an amazing work ethic that will take me far in life.” Emma began her ENC volunteer career as a Junior Naturalist, helping young Nature Campers…

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