Fort Pierce, FL – I was delighted to see a new education building open recently at the Environmental Learning Center at the end of the Wabasso Bridge over the Indian River Lagoon. You see, I have a personal interest in the ELC.
A little plaque that says "Janensch Family" adorns a plank on the ELC boardwalk. It recognizes a donation we made to honor the memory of my father, Carl Janensch, a seasonal resident of Vero Beach starting in 1972 and a lover of all that is natural in Florida. In June 2008, the education building and an adjacent utilities building were destroyed by fire caused by lightning during a severe evening thunderstorm. The ELC remained open. You could still walk on the paths and boardwalk, go on pontoon-boat cruises and on canoe excursions and buy items at the gift shop. But educational activities suffered. Replacement buildings were constructed with money raised locally. The new education building, called the Discovery Station, contains four aquariums, including a tank of brackish water that is 13 feet long and a touch pool for children to pick up marine critters. Rooftop panels deliver solar power for electricity. And rain water is used to flush the toilets in the public restrooms. So the new buildings are truly "green." My father would be pleased. For 88.9 FM, this is Paul Janensch.
Treasure Coast essayist Paul Janensch was a newspaper editor and taught journalism at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.