Learning Comes Naturally At Environmental Science Center

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by Mark Neuman

One of our area’s hidden gems is Seahurst Park.

And tucked away at the beach there is another diamond – the Environmental Science Center.

The Environmental Science Center (ESC) is the only community-based, not-for-profit environmental education organization in south King County with programs for all ages.

With a primary focus on K through 12, ESC offers school-day programs including classroom lessons and field trips, after school programs, summer camps, and community presentations.

State Sen. Joe McDermott, ESC Executive Director Julie Burr and Burien Deputy Mayor Rose Clark.

Since its founding in 1999, rapid expansion in programs has led to an increasing number of program participants served, with more than 8,000 clients during 2008, up from 5,000 clients in 2006.

“We want to foster the next group of environmental stewards,”  said ESC Executive Director Julie Burr. “Kids don’t get out there, really out-of-doors, like they used to. We reach out with special effort to minority or lower-income children.”

Julie recently spent time showing the B-Town Blog around the Center, and brought us up to speed on a big project they have in mind.

“We have a vision for an Environmental Learning Center,” Julie said. “And we have the perfect spot to build it on.”

Years ago, when Seahurst Park was the property of King County, a park caretaker actually lived in a cottage just a few yards from the building ESC currently works out of.

Guests at the campaign kickoff gathered in front of the old caretaker's cottage.

The caretaker is long gone, and the cottage is boarded up.

“We will renovate inside and expand the cottage a bit on its south side.”

The result will be a 2,200 square foot facility which will seat fifty students.

It will take about $1.3 million to fully renovate. The fundraising has been going on for a while, with $900,000 having been raised to far.

“The remaining $400,000 is proving the toughest. Several major corporations sincerely want to help, but have had to drastically cut back their civic donations” due to the current economic state of affairs.

Corporate groups who have contributed toward the Learning Center include Boeing, Alaska Airlines and Waste Management.

“We greatly appreciate, as well, our funders who help keep our regular programs running,” Julie said. These groups include:

  • The Russell Family Foundation
  • The JiJi Foundation
  • The Bottler Charitable Trust
  • The City of Burien
  • The Horizon Foundation
  • The Seattle Foundation
  • King Conservation District, WRIA 9

Julie received a special gift last month.

“My daughter, Jesann, bless her heart, went out and raised $1,540 from her friends for the Learning Center. She didn’t tell me about her efforts at all,” Julie recalled. “Then on Christmas Day she gave me the checks. What a sweetheart.”

No gift is too small (or too big!), so if you would like to contribute, please feel free to contact Julie anytime:

Julie Burr
Executive Director
Environmental Science Center

[email protected]
phone 206-246-2144

DIRECTIONS:: From Ambaum Blvd. go west on 144th. Turn right on 13th. That road will take you all the way to the beach, where parking is available.

The Environmental Science Center and the cottage are about 200 yards north of there.

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