Your investment and belief in the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium have truly helped the organization grow in 2017! In the spring, thanks to your contributions, the season began with the addition of two new team members, Kelley Jo Elliott and Debbie Lyon. Kelley, in her role as Assistant Director, and Debbie, as our Programs Director, have helped lead the FLM&A through a successful and full program and event season. Your generous gifts helped to expand the FLM&A’s program offerings to include opportunities for you and the general public to learn about and enjoy: wildlife photography, wetland discovery, the art of timberframing and plein air painting, as well as various programs utilizing our kayaks and canoes. Your donations also enabled us to offer our first, full-day school program. Twenty-three kids were given the opportunity to get out and explore the waters of one of our Finger Lakes while learning survival skills and the importance of wetlands. Thank you for your belief in expanding cultural and natural history programs for all ages!
Your contributions generated increased awareness for the FLM&A with some significant site enhancements including new entrance and wayfinding signs. Working with two local burgeoning businesses, Big Beam Timber Frames and ReFIND, this seemingly simple step of installing signs was envisioned as more: a statement of the FLM&A’s solidarity and vision in seeing this project continue to come to life – a powerful step indeed!
On a personal note and in looking at growth in 2017, I wanted to share with you that I was blessed with the addition of another baby boy to my family. With his arrival in May, I was fortunate to have had time to spend with him in the height of our program season. Not only did Debbie and Kelley lead the charge in my absence, a dedicated group of volunteers and FLM&A Board members also stepped in to ensure the FLM&A had its best foot forward as we lived our mission.
2018 marks the FLM&A’s tenth anniversary. I am diligently working with our team pulling out every stop with the hope of making this next year the year to remember for the FLM&A. I hope you will help me in ensuring it be just that by considering a memorable year-end gift. You are key to our growth and you have my word – you will not be disappointed!
Natalie J. Payne
Our mission is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of the cultural heritage and ecological evolution of the vast Finger Lakes Region.
Understanding the FLM&A
WHO: The Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium (FLM&A) is a nonprofit, formally created in 2009, dedicated to inspiring appreciation and stewardship of the cultural heritage and ecological evolution of the vast Finger Lakes Region.
WHAT: Located in the hamlet of Branchport, NY, on the northwest fork of Keuka Lake, the FLM&A’s 29-acre site encompasses a 16-acre wetland/preserve (known as the TownsendGrady Wildlife Preserve) and a 13-acre former school campus. The Preserve includes 100 feet of lakefront and pathways, with plans to develop boardwalks, interpretative signage, and various nesting platforms and boxes for wildlife. The Campus comprises a 17,000 square foot building that is currently under a phased renovation, green infrastructure elements that include: bioswales, a riparian buffer zone, along with turf paver and porous pavement parking lots. On the Campus one can also find a kayak and canoe livery known as the Creekside Center, two timber frame lean-to’s for outdoor programming and an ADA accessible hand-carry launch/dock.
WHEN: The first question that everyone asks is, when will the FLM&A open? The site is open now for programs both for the public and private audiences. During the spring, summer, and fall seasons, programming occurs during the week and on the weekends. The FLM&A website, FingerLakesMuseum.org is the best place for updates on what is happening. Staff are on site Monday through Friday and guests/residents are encouraged to stop by to discuss the FLM&A’s next steps, to ask questions, or just to say hello. A timeline of deliverables/progress has been created with approximate dates of completion below.
WHY: There is no other place that represents the entire 9,000 square mile Finger Lakes region. Various institutions across the region speak to specific elements of the many cultural and natural history wonders. However, there is still a need for a place that can showcase each of the eleven Finger Lakes along with the fascinating past and current stories of the people, villages, environments, and wildlife that have existed around and within each. The future of the Finger Lakes region is a bright one and the FLM&A will create experiences that immerse visitors in a world of self-reflection and discovery that is second to none.
HOW: The FLM&A is being created for and by YOU! Your support, whether through donations, volunteering, networking, etc., has been and continues to be critical to the FLM&A’s success. As the organization embarks on its next step of continued programming, fundraising and completing its Phase One – a substantial buildout within the existing building and continued wetland development – your support is necessary!
Faces of the FLM&A
From left to right, Natalie, Debbie, Kelley and Jim
Kelley Jo Elliott, Assistant Director
Joining the FLM&A team has proven to be a very positive, meaningful decision given my 10+ years of museum experience and my deep love of the natural environment and cultural experiences! Working alongside Natalie, Debbie, Jim, our Trustees, and volunteers, my stronghold is primarily with grant writing and research. However, each of us brings unique strengths to the table with some of mine being: co-leading organizational plan development and delivery, overseeing FLM&A networking opportunities, website development, coordinating our growing volunteer base, and more. One of my favorite happenings at the FLM&A is the work occurring within the TownsendGrady Wildlife Preserve. We are so fortunate to have this 16-acre property to be working with and, with your continued support, I’m looking forward to bringing more attention and awareness to that in 2018 and beyond!
Debbie Lyon, Program Director
I love children! And yes, I love adults (including you) too! I am thrilled to be journeying alongside FLM&A guests, staff, and volunteers as we showcase our many assets here at our Keuka Lake home, and educate folks about the entire Finger Lakes region. My passion for learning and educating comes from ten years of working as an educator, including two years as a school teacher and principal in Belize, and several years as an environmental educator in Vermont and Maine. My previous career as a civil engineer adds depth to my concern for how we can sustainably manage our precious earth resources. One program that stood out to me this year was in partnership with Camp Good Days, when women from their weekend Oncology Camp participated in a special paddle program led by FLM&A NYS Certified Guide Pat Atkinson and myself. Women from all walks of life joined us, many for the first time, as they shared a true Finger Lakes experience and celebrated life! Helping children and adults have meaningful and FUN experiences in nature is the job of a lifetime, and I want to thank you for believing in me and the mission of the FLM&A.
Jim Higgins, Project Director As the guy behind the scenes, or rather the guy on the scene, chances are if you have visited the FLM&A site to see what’s been going on, you’ve seen me there. Having been a part of the project since its start, I’ve had the opportunity of seeing it through all its stages. I must say, as a supporter, you are certainly choosing an opportune time where the need is great and the dollars are being well spent. With a project management background and skills with design, engineering, and field implementation, I assist the FLM&A on many fronts but particularly around any small or big construction-type project that is happening or soon will be. The Museum has many pieces and parts and great opportunity as we move ahead in planning the wetland development, further buildouts in and around the existing building, and continue working towards a more polished Creekside Center structure (poured floor, decks, and additional pathways).
1. and 2. FLM&A educators and volunteers led a special summer day program for Penn Yan Academy students.
3. Guests enjoy our first wildlife photography class in the Creekside Center.
4. Participants at our week-long timber frame workshop received hands-on skills and training from Rob Hughes of Big Beam Timber Frames.
5. FLM&A volunteer and Wetland Steering Committee member, Terry Schmitz, leads guests on an interpretative walk through the FLM&A’s Townsend-Grady Wildlife Preserve.
6. Artists were found throughout the FLM&A’s 29 acres and within a 3-mile radius of the Museum site for the first plein air painting workshop.
Save the Date!
2018 FLM&A Programs & Events
April 28 – Woods Walk
May 12 – Annual Bird Walk
May 19 – Open House
June 2 – Milk Moon Paddle
June 9 – Community Paddle
June16 – Wildlife Photography Class
June 23 – Kayak Lessons
June 29 – Strawberry Moon Paddle
July 14 – Community Paddle
July 21 – Riparian Zone Yoga
July 23-27 – Timber Frame Workshop
July 27 – Thunder Moon Paddle
August 4 – Paddle Keuka 5K
August 11 – Kayak Lessons
August 18 – Community Paddle
August 25 – Blueberry Moon Paddle
September 8 – Open House
September 15 – Wildlife Photography Class
Special thanks to FLM&A Volunteer Helen Heizyk, Bob Engle, Assistant Director Kelley Jo Elliott & President Emeritus John Adamski for providing the photos!
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