Learning Comes Naturally At Environmental Science Center
by Mark Neuman
One of our areaâ€™s hidden gems is Seahurst Park.
And tucked away at the beach there is another diamond â€“ 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.
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.
â€œWe want to foster the next group of environmental stewards,â€Â said ESC Executive Director Julie Burr. â€œKids donâ€™t get out there, really out-of-doors, like they used to. We reach out with special effort to minority or lower-income children.â€
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.
â€œWe have a vision for an Environmental Learning Center,â€ Julie said. â€œAnd we have the perfect spot to build it on.â€
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.
The caretaker is long gone, and the cottage is boarded up.
â€œWe will renovate inside and expand the cottage a bit on its south side.â€
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.
â€œThe remaining $400,000 is proving the toughest. Several major corporations sincerely want to help, but have had to drastically cut back their civic donationsâ€ due to the current economic state of affairs.
Corporate groups who have contributed toward the Learning Center include Boeing, Alaska Airlines and Waste Management.
â€œWe greatly appreciate, as well, our funders who help keep our regular programs running,â€ 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.
â€œMy daughter, Jesann, bless her heart, went out and raised $1,540 from her friends for the Learning Center. She didnâ€™t tell me about her efforts at all,â€ Julie recalled. â€œThen on Christmas Day she gave me the checks. What a sweetheart.â€
No gift is too small (or too big!), so if you would like to contribute, please feel free to contact Julie anytime:
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.