By Samantha Joseph
JENSEN BEACH - The Environmental Studies Council is opening the doors of its Jensen Beach center to hundreds of area children and their families, during its annual open house.
Organizers expect about 700 attendees at the Oct. 20 event, set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 2900 N.E. Indian River Drive. They say this year's event will be one of the best, in honor of the center's 40th anniversary.
"The children who come to the center learn so much about the environment and become ambassadors of our local fragile ecosystems," said Kim Waser, an Environmental Studies Council board member.
"The open house is a wonderful opportunity for parents and friends to visit and experience the same amazing programs the children encounter throughout the year, and learn about our local environment firsthand."
The Environmental Studies Center provides community education on environmental protection. It houses salt-water aquariums, offers hands-on learning and is home to Sandy, a releasable loggerhead sea turtle.
More than 10,000 children from area public and private schools visit each year.
But administrators say the open house is an opportunity to share resources with adults and the wider community.
That's why for more than 20 years, the group has been hosting the event that brings hundreds to the site.
"It is a tremendous day for families," said spokeswoman Kelly Pelletier. "The children get to show and share their experience at the center with their families. The kids get to be the teachers for a bit. It is a day full of fun and learning for the entire family."
The open house is free of charge, but organizers will accept donations.
It will feature refreshments, entertainment, crafts, games and sign-ups for events on the center's calendar, including a hike at Barley Barber Swamp.
Local historian and author Sandra Thurlow will also give three presentations with stories and photographs of wildlife along the Indian River.
For more information, visit www.escmc.org or call (772) 334-4643.