Advocacy Resources for COVID-19 Relief

It is important that every nature center tell their story to their representatives and share the specifics of how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting the ability to operate. As Congress decides where to allocate financial relief for the coronavirus crisis, we encourage everyone to advocate for an economic stimulus for our field. We have two resources to share on this behalf:

    1. a template for nature center directors to send directly to their representatives
    2. a template for nature centers' audiences to send to their representatives

Writing your senators and representatives is easy; just click those links and find your officeholders.

Template for nature center directors to send directly to their representatives

[Date]
[Address]
The Honorable [X]

Dear [Senator X or Representative X],

First and foremost, thank you for everything you are doing to help our nation deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. As you consider further legislation to aid negatively affected individuals and businesses, I strongly urge you to ensure that nature and environmental learning centers are included in these relief packages. Nature and environmental learning centers are at unprecedented risk in the coronavirus crisis. These centers provide invaluable benefits to their communities through a unique combination of land management and environmental education. We need your leadership and support to ensure that direct and immediate assistance is provided to our industry.

[A statement specific to your center. ANCA encourages you to email your statement to ANCA Executive Director Jen Levy at ]

Example: The Squam Lakes Natural Science Center is a non-profit institution with about one hundred animals in its collection. About 70% of the Science Center’s income comes from program fees, ticket sales, preschool tuition, and memberships. This current crisis has crippled our organization. The Science Center is a central hub of the town of Holderness and has been an icon in the Lakes Region Community for more than 50 years. We employ 35FTEs including preschool teachers, naturalist/educators, animal care specialists and administrators. Last year 71,000 people visited out interpretive exhibit trail, another 20,000 attended programs and 10,000 enjoyed one of our tours of Squam Lake. During the summer we are the economic driver in the Squam Lake area. [This example is provided by ANCA Board Member Iain MacLeod, Executive Director of the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center]

Our facility is part of a larger community — the Association of Nature Center Administrators — which includes 350 member nature centers, science centers, and residential environmental learning centers that represent the very best in education, natural science, and land conservation. ANCA member facilities enhance local and regional economies — with a combined economic impact of $1 billion, and protection of an estimated 1.1 million acres. Each year nearly 4 million K-12 students visit each year. In addition, 10% of the US population, 25 million people, visit these centers each year to walk trails, explore open spaces, and learn. 

We cannot simply shut the gates and secure our facilities, as we continue to incur operational costs, even when closed. 

As you consider economic stimulus and relief legislation to address the COVID-19 crisis, I strongly urge you to include at least $100 million for nature and environmental learning centers to provide emergency assistance through June. In addition, we urge Congress to adopt a temporary “universal charitable deduction” to help incentivize charitable giving which is expected to decline in the months ahead.

I look forward to working with you in the coming months as we collectively work to ensure that our nation emerges from this crisis, with its vital scientific, cultural, and educational institutions ready to resume their ability to serve the public.

Sincerely,

[Your name and contact info]

 

Template for nature centers' audiences to send to their representatives

Dear [Senator X or Representative X],

I am writing today to urge you read this message from the Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA). ANCA is asking Congress and the White House to include at least $100 million for nature and environmental learning centers in COVID-19 (coronavirus) economic relief legislation to provide emergency assistance through June. In addition, I urge you to adopt a temporary “universal charitable deduction” to help incentivize charitable giving which is expected to decline in the months ahead.

Nature and environmental learning centers are at unprecedented risk in the coronavirus crisis. These centers provide invaluable benefits to their communities through a unique combination of land management and environmental education. In this time of social distancing, nature center properties have become havens, with a drastic increase in usage as many people spend more recreational time outside. At the same time, however, these organizations have seen a catastrophic decrease in funding due to canceled events and programs.

  • ANCA is reporting spring program revenue losses at nature centers ranging from $20,000 to $200,000. Collectively, ANCA estimates that these members are losing $25 million in program revenue. At the same time, countless spring fundraising events have been cancelled resulting in even greater losses. 
  • In addition, the more than 400 residential environmental learning center programs in this country collectively bring 1.5 million students outside each year. These centers estimate more than 6000 schools have cancelled programs, causing a loss of more than $65 million — funding that is crucial to the existence of these centers and the ability to serve students in the future.

As such, nature and environmental learning centers throughout the country are experiencing devastating consequences from this crisis, and need assistance to continue to serve their communities. Without aid, nature and environmental learning centers are at risk for permanently laying off staff or closing. Such repercussions would undoubtedly damage the communities surrounding these organizations, especially when those communities further seek the benefits of nature centers in these challenging times, and will continue to do so as the entire country recovers from this crisis.

The Association of Nature Center Administrators promotes and supports best leadership and management practices for the nature and environmental learning center profession.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]