Photo Credit: Rajesh Barnabas

From a seed to a sapling. That is what it feels like right now as Rochester Ecology Partners enters a new stage of growth. In the last two months we had our first big event, added a board member, brought new people onto our team, moved into an office for the summer, and have worked with our partners to launch the Neighborhood Nature Summer Program. As we grow we are discovering a community of people who want to create a bright and hopeful future and we are grateful for your support to connect our community to nature. My hope for this newsletter is to share the story of our organization in a way that leads you to feel a connection to the work we are doing and cultivate a sense of hope in what is possible when we work together.

-Chris Widmaier
Executive Director

Our Summer By The Numbers

  • The Sensing Nature for Families and Friendraiser events in Seneca Park were attended by 100 community members.
  • Our local business and community members have generously contributed $5,000 to REP (Thank you!)
  • We have positively impacted 45 youth through our Neighborhood Nature Program, including traveling over 25 miles by RTS bus for sustainable nature based exploration.

Upcoming Events

August 9th, 4pm to 5:30pm: Monroe County Environmental Organization Landscape Analysis Feedback Session

August 11th, 4pm to 5:30pm: Ontario Environmental Organization Landscape Analysis Feedback Session

Our Environmental Organization Landscape Analysis project team is looking to get feedback from community members in Monroe and Ontario counties about our proposed project goals, methods, and outcomes. We hope that you will consider sharing your thoughts with us.

August 30 and 31, 2022: Nature Based Learning Symposium

One hundred nature based learning educators will gather in Durand Eastman Park to explore how we can get our students and each other learning about and in the natural world. We hope to see you there!!

Our Stories

Sensing Nature and Friendraiser Picnic

We were inspired to use the Wegman lodge at Seneca Park because there is a plaque out front that states it was built as a “place for youth to learn about the environment”. The day started with an event led by three people that it is impossible to find a simple adjective or title to describe: authors, naturalists, storytellers, community builders, Queen Mother. Almeta Whitis, Angela Cannon-Cruthers, and Wendy Low led families in sensing nature. A story about a monkey, blindfolded tree discovery with a partner, and meandering along the trout pond were just a few of the ways they brought nature to life through storytelling. Midafternoon we changed scenes for the second act. Friend of REP, Sara Oliveiri, came by with flowers and tablescapes to create an atmosphere of abundance for our Friendraiser Picnic. When you do things for the first time you never know who will show up and how things will go. In this case, once the tables were set, all of the right people joined us for a good time with good people, an event that set a high bar for the future. It felt good in so many ways: to have the warm June sun on our faces: to be in the company of new and old friends: to share a delicious meal together. It seemed as though everyone found something about the event that made them feel good and we couldn’t be happier about that.

Neighborhood Nature Summer Program

 “I love nature!” It was only five minutes into our first day and one of the youth in the Nature and Arts Summer Program at SWAN just had to share. The nature she was talking about was a small patch of green, a tree, and the sun on her face. We have partnered with two community organizations, SWAN Inc. and Agape Haven of Abundance to provide nature programming for local youth this summer. In partnering with different organizations we look to fit in where we can and provide help when and where it makes the most sense. For SWAN this looks like nature programming on Monday and Wednesday mornings. Examining worms up close, seeding the neighborhood with wildflowers, and creating opportunities to study the neighborhood’s wildlife up close, all fit into our mission of helping the young people find nature nearby. With Agape Haven Of Abundance, we have been spending our Fridays visiting different parks in or close to the city on the RTS bus. Last week’s trip to Highland Park was an excellent example of how we can bring a variety of nature into the lives of children. Exploring the base of trees, playing on the adventure zone playground, and catching insects in the woods all happen easily not far from home. The forty five students who have joined us so far this summer are finding a new, natural world close to home that they love and we are lucky to be a part of it.

This program is possible thanks to the support of ESL Federal Credit Union, Dr. William Valenti, Marsherall Partners and a community of individual donors. If you would like to contribute, we would appreciate your help. There is still plenty of summer left to help the youth in this program fund nature where they live, work, and play. Make a Donation

Growing our team

Co-creating a future that is hopeful, sustainable, and equitable takes time and energy. We recently added five new people to our team and we are excited to have them contribute their talents to make that vision a reality. Chelsea Ammerman has joined our board of directors. Her extensive experience with outdoor programming for youth and young adults will be valuable in our next stage of growth. Lindsay Clark has been hired as our Program Development Manager. A skilled program planner and grant writer, Lindsay has played an essential role in getting our Neighborhood Nature Program off of the ground this summer. Timmy Okung has taken on the role of Neighborhood Nature Program Manager (along with other responsibilities). Their enthusiasm for combining nature study with youth development and community building has proven to be the “secret ingredient” this summer. Working with Timmy this summer is Dede McDew. She is our neighborhood nature program assistant who joined our team with the hope of ensuring children today are able to have the same type of fundamental experiences in nature she had as a child. Finally, Thomas Minehan is helping our organization in a variety of ways as a Sustainability Intern for the summer. A Sustainability major at St. John Fisher, Thomas has provided essential support as he learns about the ins and outs of a growing nonprofit. We can’t wait to see what their contribution leads to for Rochester Ecology Partners.

Ways to Get Involved

  • Make a donation. You can have a significant impact with a donation at this stage of our development. Your contribution will support our Neighborhood Nature Program, provide much needed funds for our growth and development, and allow us to commit resources to building our relationships with schools. Make a Donation
  • Connect to us by joining our social media community and email list. As we develop our programs and activities we’d love to have you join the conversation. You can find links to our social media accounts and our email list sign up on our home page. Home Page
  • Help us build Rochester Ecology Partners with your time and energy. We are a growing community of individuals working to help all people find nature where they live, work, and play. You can join us by contributing in ways that work for you. Get Involved