- The Brevard Nature Alliance, Inc. (BNA) was formed in December 1998 to provide a strategic alliance among all Brevard stakeholders for natural resource initiatives. The BNA is chartered as a not-for-profit corporation under the laws of the state of Florida and is designated by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 ( c ) (3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. BNA members are a coalition of representatives from key organizations who combine their knowledge to protect the distinct ecology and raise the awareness of citizens and visitors to the value and importance of the natural resources of Brevard County, Florida.
- The mission of the Brevard Nature Alliance, Inc. is to build public awareness and appreciation of the value of Brevard County's natural resources by fostering and promoting ethical nature based ecotourism.
- The Alliance serves as one of the primary advocates of community-based nature activities in Brevard County, dedicated to the enrichment of the community through an understanding and appreciation of natural resources, nature-based tourism and ecosystem needs.
- The BNA seeks to increase awareness of the County's natural resources and work with the community toward sensible growth management. The BNA does this by offering technical and funding support to educational projects such as the annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival, organizing community workshops to form a strategic conservation plan for the County as part of the Brevard Tomorrow Initiative, providing environmental documentation to myregion.org and working with Brevard County to enhance functional ecological design for new development.
The BNA presents the Annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival.
- The Festival is the foremost event of the year and the BNA is responsible for its success. The BNA Board of Directors is directly involved in the planning and responsible for the review of all aspects of the Festival. The Festival Executive Director, Festival Coordinator and BNA Coordinator handle the day-to-day issues, changes and developing logistics involved in an event of this size.
- The Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival was created in 1997 to showcase the unique nature, wildlife, and technology in Brevard County. The commitment to create an opportunity for education; environmental and conservation experiences; space, nature and wildlife enjoyment and birding appreciation has brought many organizations together to present a safe, memorable and fun event.
- A 12-month timeline is created and each task checked off as it is completed leading up to the date of the Festival. Advertising and marketing for each Festival has been unique and applicable to the special promotions for each year. The web site has evolved to include online registration for attendees and exhibitors. Social media has provided the festival to broaden it's reach to include additional forms of communication with potential festival attendees as well as a younger demographic. Personal economic issues has opened the festival to families with children and home-schooled students to rely on the festival for education and entertainment.
- Contract staff and select volunteers facilitate the timeline of the Festival as approved by the BNA Board of Directors. All tasks are reviewed and completed per this guideline. Financial tasks (sponsorships, grants, donations, accounts receivable & payable and reporting) as well as logistics, advertising, volunteers, computer generated programs and statistical justification, speakers, field trip leaders, photographers, children and schools activities, water adventures and other outdoor activities are established prior to the start of the event.
- The Festival is important because it generates awareness of the abundant natural resources of our area, not just during the Event, but also throughout the entire year. The connection of these natural resources to quality of life, excellence in environmental education, high technology, cultural heritage significance and business community involvement provides a focus that has placed the Festival as number one in the top three ranking of Birding and Wildlife Events (size, venue, scope of events and presenter/field trip leader industry status) in the United States as well as being recognized internationally as an event destination for premier birding opportunities and outdoor adventures.
- An Economic Impact Report is the end product utilizing all information gathered via an extensive survey during the Festival. In-depth demographics, financial and educational data show specific profiles of festival attendees as well as the likelihood of their return to Florida's Space Coast throughout the year. These measurable results provide return-on-investment information to Sponsors, Grantors and Donors. The Festival is a proven engine that drives nature-based tourists to Brevard County.
With the approval of and assistance from the Space Coast Office of Tourism (SCOT), the BNA initiated the production of the first Outdoor Adventure Guide for Florida's Space Coast.
- The plan was to provide information about alternative activities (other than going to the beach) that abounded in Brevard County to keep visitors to this area occupied and increase the time of their stay by a day or two or three.
- With a budget of $8,000, the SCOT would match 1/2 of those monies. The BNA sold ads to hotels and tourism businesses to meet their portion of the cost to produce the publication.
- The BNA contacted each outdoor provider in Brevard County (air boat rides, kayak/canoe tours and rentals, horseback riding, sailing and windsurfing, birding and photography, surf shops, surfing schools and also included museums, attractions and nature centers).
- In April 2004, 10,000 copies of the first Guide were printed. Guides were distributed by the BNA to Florida Welcome Centers, Chambers of Commerce, hotels, restaurants, outdoor providers and other tourism entry areas.
- In October 2004, the BNA combined the Outdoor Adventure Guide information with the Program for the 2004 Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival to produce a dual publication. 50,000 copies were printed and distributed not only to festival-goers but also throughout the year to Florida Welcome Centers, Chambers of Commerce, hotels, restaurants, outdoor providers and other tourism entry areas. VISIT FLORIDA and SCOT provided some monies for publication of the document. VISIT FLORIDA and SCOT used the Guide/Program at tourism trade shows and Chambers of Commerce sent the Guide/Program in response to vacation requests.
- In October 2005, the BNA again produced a combined document of the for the 2005 Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival with updated information about Outdoor Adventure businesses in Brevard County - adding new ones and removing those who no longer were active. The Guide had become so popular that 80,000 copies were printed and distributed not only to festival-goers but also throughout the year to Florida Welcome Centers, Chambers of Commerce, hotels, restaurants, outdoor providers and other tourism entry areas. VISIT FLORIDA and SCOT provided some monies for publication of the document. VISIT FLORIDA and SCOT used the Guide/Program at tourism trade shows and Chambers of Commerce sent the Guide/Program in response to vacation requests.
- In June 2007, the BNA and SCOT created a permanent partnership to produce the annual Outdoor Adventure Guide. The BNA would create and update the Guide each year and the SCOT would cover production and printing costs. The Guide will be distributed jointly by the BNA and SCOT.
- This partnership continues to function and an updated Guide has been published every two years. The name has been changed to " The Adventure Guide" so that additional area activities can be included.
The BNA proposed a partnership between the Brevard Nature Alliance and the Brevard County School System.
- The purpose of this partnership is to provide current topical educational presentations on the environment, conservation issues and earth science.
The BNA plans to accomplish this with:
- special field trips led by local and nationally known naturalists
- special workshops presented by local and nationally known scientists, photographers and nature writers.
- The suggested educational presentations will be planned throughout the school year with some events occurring in concert with the Annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival. Those schools that have Environmental Clubs may want to provide extra credit to club members who participate as Hosts or additional guides for the events.
- Our ultimate goal of this partnership is to share the educational value of the ecosystems of Brevard County with students and to provide an avenue of learning about these important ecological resources that influence our quality of life.
- Following initial discussions with school representatives, the BNA School Program Committee has planned to present two of five proposed programs to Science teachers assembled for a workshop in August 2006. The programs will be developed using criteria for pre and post testing of learning experiences.
- The Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program currently is presenting educational programs (with pre and post testing) and offering field trip opportunities to Brevard County Schools. Programs available through the BNA were reviewed. The BNA will partner with the EELS Program to plan joint educational opportunities for the schools. The EELS Program will provide two or more programs during the annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival.
The BNA works cooperatively with organizations, agencies and business entities such as:
The Brevard County Board of County Commissioners, Space Coast Audubon, the Turtle Coast Sierra Club, Friends of the Enchanted Forest, Brevard Cultural Alliance, Native Plant Society, Brevard Community College (all campuses), Chambers of Commerce, Space Coast Office of Tourism, VISIT FLORIDA, Brevard County School Board, St. Johns River Water Management District, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Canaveral National Seashore, Environmentally Endangered Lands program, NASA contractors, Economic Development of Florida's Space Coast, hotels, restaurants, attractions, outdoor adventure providers and many others.
The BNA serves the Brevard community -
Through continual interaction the BNA acts as a clearinghouse for various activities and is a stable contact both for local and out of area seekers of information about Florida's Space Coast. Things to do, places to stay and directions are the most predominantly asked questions. Referrals are made to Chambers of Commerce, attractions and Wildlife Refuges so that additional information may be obtained and hotel listings are given so that a choice can be made for appropriate accommodations.
The BNA has initiated and/or participated in the following programs in Brevard County:
- The BNA was invited to become a part of the Brevard Tomorrow Strategic Planning Initiative to contribute environmental and conservation data and information to be used in the resulting Initiative Report.
- The BNA first approached gathering information and providing input to the Brevard Tomorrow Strategic Planning Initiative by hosting the "Brevard County Conservation and Business Development Roundtable".
- The BNA hosted a meeting of stakeholders in a two-day workshop led by the nationally known environmental consulting firm from Denver, CO, 'Conservation Impact'.
- The BNA and the Space Coast Economic Development Commission co-hosted a Community Forum on: 'Growth and Development in Titusville and North Brevard County'.
- The BNA initiated the first 'Scrub Jay Project'.
- The Hidden Gems program was developed over a period of two years. The Brevard community was invited to attend meetings to discuss little-known areas that would appeal to visitors to Florida's Space Coast and extend their visit an extra day or so. Informational documents were developed to be shared with hotel guests, seekers of activities to do from Chambers of Commerce as well as from other local businesses.
- A web site was developed to be accessed by visitors and local users to deliver information. A survey is available there to receive feed back as an evaluation of the visit to each Hidden Gem Site. These evaluations will help to keep this program fresh, updated and the creation of additional sites.
Members of the BNA Board of Directors, Members and Staff serve or have served on the following Committees, Commissions and Boards:
- EELS REAC Committee
- EELS Selection Committee
- Brevard County Natural Resources - Landscaping Committee
- Brevard County 2010 Comprehensive Land Plan - Review & Revisions Committee
- Brevard County 2010 Charter Review Commission
- Floodplains and Wetlands Working Group
- North Brevard Parks & Recreation Commission
- Member, District 1 Commissioner Monthly Briefing Committee
- Member, North Brevard Renaissance program
- Member, Beach Renourishment Committee
- Tourism Development Council - members, Chair, committees
- FLORIDA TODAY writer - monthly environmental column
Information and data gathered was used to produce the "Natural Resources and Conservation Report" (NR&C). **This is the document that provided the environmental, conservation and natural resources component for the Brevard Tomorrow Strategic Plan. The NR&C Report was also used by myregion.org, a seven-county area-planning consortium, as the template for addressing environmental and conservation issues at a regional level. The NR&C Report was also reproduced on CD as well in hard copy.
Requests for this popular document are received currently as the information is still very relevant to the issues of growth management and infrastructure issues. **This document is available in all 17 Brevard County libraries.
The project is an initiative that established a partnership between local scientists, volunteers, and environmental organizations to provide data and monitoring support for several land acquisition and natural resource management programs charged with Florida scrub-jay conservation.
This project is now known as Scrub Jay Adaptive Resource Project and is guided by the Scrub Jay Adaptive Resource Committee with Anne Birch as Chair and members Keith Winsten, Virginia Barker, Leesa Souto, Dave Breininger and Laurilee Thompson. The Scrub Jay Project Committee works with other stakeholder organizations for support and volunteer assistance as well as with Land Managers from a variety of County and State Agencies.
The BNA was tasked with delivery of the informational documents along with the education of hotel and Chambers of Commerce desk staff in order to provide guests and visitors' seeking something to do could take self-tours to the Hidden Gem sites.
Sixty hotels throughout Brevard County were identified and the four Chambers of Commerce were included to receive Hidden Gems information and training as to how to present the information to visitors.