First, a gift of a new building will ensure the Gorge Waterway Nature House has a facility able to stay open during the winter.
Now, a grant for educational programming will help to ensure the structure, to be built in Esquimalt Gorge Park, has enough activity to warrant keeping the doors open throughout the school year.
The Rotary Club of Victoria-Harbourside has given the World Fisheries Trust – which operates the nature house – a $10,000 grant.
"It will allow us to carry on the seaquaria-in-schools program with much more confidence, especially reaching inner-city schools that can't afford it," said WTF executive director Joachim Carolsfeld.
"We've been struggling to keep it going," he said, adding few funders see environmental education as important anymore.
The education program teaches kids about local marine ecosystems. It has installed permanent seaquaria – equipment that often includes an aquarium – in 35 schools and brings students from other schools to the centre on field trips. The grant money will be used in part to buy equipment for the Nature House.
In June, the Vancouver Island Construction Association chose the nature house as its legacy project. The new building will be bigger and have heat, allowing it to stay open during the winter.
When the Rotarians got the news, they invited Carolsfeld to submit his wish list for programming.
"We were so impressed with the wish list, we gave them more money than they even asked for," said Maureen Duncan, representing the club. "We like to fund projects that benefit the whole community. I'm hoping it is going to put Esquimalt on the map for the Greater Victoria area."
The Rotary Club of Victoria-Harbourside has approximately 95 members. For more information, visit www.harboursiderotary.org.