Sarasota Audubon Nature Center at Celery Fields to reopen on weekends, starting Nov. 5 and 6, after retrofitting to prevent spread of COVID-19

Community Foundation grant enabled nonprofit to make improvements

The Sarasota Audubon Nature Center once again will welcome visitors at the Celery Fields in Sarasota. Contributed photo

Thanks to a $3,700 grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, visitors to the Celery Fields soon will be able “to stop in at the Sarasota Audubon Nature Center for information on the birds, wildlife, ecology, and history of the surrounding habitat,” Sarasota Audubon has announced.

The nonprofit Audubon chapter recently was awarded the money through the Edward K. Roberts Emerging Needs Fund to support a COVID-retrofit of the chapter’s Nature Center, the release explains.

“With approximately 15,000 visitors coming through our doors each year, we are very much concerned with everyone’s health and well-being,” said Jeanne Dubi, president of Sarasota Audubon, in the release. “This grant will enable us to retrofit the Nature Center to minimize the spread of viruses and other airborne pathogens.”

“The grant will cover the purchase and installation of air purifiers, air conditioning unit ionizers and other measures to minimize the spread of virus within the information center and gift shop,” the release says.

The Sarasota Audubon Nature Center has been closed since March 2020, the release adds. That is the month the first COVID-19 cases were identified in Florida, including one at Doctors Hospital in Sarasota County.

“The Sarasota Audubon Nature Center is a LEED Gold certified building with numerous sustainable features,” the release continues.

“Upgrading the air quality is a commitment to the legacy of sustainability of the chapter’s Board of Directors and dovetails with the goal” to provide a COVID-safe space for docents and visitors, Dubi pointed out in the release.

A notice the nonprofit recently sent to volunteers says the Nature Center will be open on weekends, starting Nov. 6 and 7, from 9 a.m. to noon. That notice also points out that two mobile ionizers have been “strategically placed in the public room,” and the water fountain will be cleaned daily, “according to Sarasota County guidelines.”

The 6,000-square-foot Nature Center opened its doors in October 2015. It is located at 999 Center Road in Sarasota County. Visit www.sarasotaaudubon.org for more information about this local Audubon chapter, the Celery Fields and the outdoor activities that are scheduled, the release notes.

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