Two New Hanover County based organizations recently provided critical support for the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s education programs. The federation strives to reach people from all walks of life with its education programs, and these two grants will help staff to promote and expand their education work.

The Landfall Foundation awarded the federation $3,995 for its Touch Tank and Coastal Exploration Education Program. The funding will support the interactive and hands-on program that enables locals and visitors to personally experience the animals, plants and habitats of North Carolina’s coast.

The federation offers the program throughout the year at the Fred and Alice Stanback Coastal Education Center; at schools; and for groups such as the Brigade Boys and Girls Club, Cape Fear Boys and Girls Club, Blue Ribbon Commission, YWCA and other organizations working with under-served communities.

The Coastal Exploration portion of the program takes students and families into the saltmarsh and tidal creeks to explore these habitats; learn about their functions and values; and gain a deeper appreciation of their importance. Federation staff also run Touch Tank Tuesday at its coastal education center in the summer. The goal of the Touch Tank and Coastal Exploration Education Program is to provide a high quality, interactive coastal environmental education experience for students and families from all walks of life, free of charge.

The grant to the federation was just one of 74 that the Landfall Foundation awarded during its 2017-18 grant cycle. The foundation awarded $363,100 during this cycle, bringing its total to more than $4.1 million donated to Wilmington area nonprofits since its founding in 1995.

The Cape Fear Garden Club awarded the federation a $726 grant to assist with the enhancement of educational habitat gardens and wetland nursery ponds at the federation’s coastal education center in Wrightsville Beach.

The federation opened the Fred and Alice Stanback Coastal Education Center in May 2014. The center maintains indoor and outdoor classrooms, public event space and offices. Community members, school groups and tourists visit the center to participate in workshops and activities, and to learn about our coastal environment.

The education center grounds also serve as a living classroom. The federation installed a series of stormwater reduction measures including rain gardens, rain barrels, a cistern and pervious pavers and pavement. Native shrubs, grasses, ferns and flowers have been planted in the rain gardens and around the center with the help of students and community volunteers. With funding from the Cape Fear Garden Club in 2015-16, the federation installed a monarch butterfly feeding garden and a series of small coastal habitat gardens showcasing wetland, upland and dune plant communities.

The Cape Fear Garden Club, comprised entirely of volunteers, provided $72,600 in grant awards to 20 local nonprofits and agencies for the 2017-2018 grant cycle. The grant funds come from the annual Azalea Garden Tour, and they support beautification, conservation and education projects in New Hanover County. Over the past 25 years, the Club has provided almost $2 million in grant funding. One of the largest and oldest in the country, the Cape Fear Garden Club has a long and rich history of philanthropy and stewardship.

Federation staff are excited to put this funding to good use in its education programs, which aim to develop enthusiastic coastal stewards.