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Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education

2012 Archives


Remembering the Legacy of Tim Gardner

Tim Gardner, center, talked with fellow Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Host Committee members November 21 on Sanibel Island.

It is with much sorrow that the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education has lost a dear friend and active contributor. Sanibel Island resident Tim Gardner passed away suddenly on November 25, 2012. Tim’s care and commitment to better his surroundings on a local and international scale will be sorely missed.

Tim was an active member of the Host Committee for the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend and offered suggestions at this year’s first committee meeting in November for the 2013 event. We were fortunate to enjoy his good humor and long experience as a member.

Community involvement was an avid pursuit for Tim and he left behind an extensive record of engagements and accomplishments. Nationally, he had been tapped by President Nixon to help organize the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency and played a critical role in the management of fertilizers and pesticides, including the removal of DDT from the American market. Locally, Tim was a Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge Board member, one of the original leaders and President of the Clam Bayou Preservation Association, Vice President of the Bayous Preservation Association, and a member and past President of The Island Water Association. The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) received his volunteer services for more than 20 years, as did the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) Loggerhead Turtle program, and he recently volunteered at the 2012 Galloway Captiva Triathlon in September.

Tim served as the President of the International Osprey Foundation and he made many efforts to secure the preservation and recovery of the osprey, as well as address other environmental concerns on Sanibel Island. He was also a past board member of the Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. His interest in birds led him to be the coordinator for one of Sanibel’s districts during the National Audubon Society’s Annual Christmas Bird Count, of which he happily captained fellow observers from a pontoon boat.

Tim was widely recognized for his international accomplishments and local involvement but was a humble man. The Center hopes to honor his memory and the legacy of his pursuits.

Center Loses a Dear Friend

It is with deep sadness that we mark the loss of a dear friend of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education. On September 20, 2012, Mary Bursley Carter, age 97, passed away peacefully at her summer cottage at Portage Lake, Onekama, Michigan. She is survived by her four children Deborah Carter, Vicky Hurst, Ginger Carter, and Lander Carter, her daughter-in-law, Gretchen, her five grandchildren, and her nine great-grandchildren.

Mary grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She and her brother Gil were educated in Europe and in Michigan; she graduated from the University of Michigan. She spent many years wintering on Sanibel Island before moving there full time. She supported many Island civic, environmental, and artistic initiatives.

At age 90, she hosted the First Annual Fundraising Celebration of the Center at her home on West Gulf Drive. Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran said, “She was the Center’s first major supporter. She shared our commitment to a humane and sustainable future.” Hurricane Charley destroyed this home. She moved to Cypress Cove, but never missed an Annual Fundraising Celebration at the Haffenreffer’s home.

When asked what advice she would give to university students she said, “Do what you want, eat what you want, drink what you want…whatever you do, have fun doing it!” The Center staff admired her enthusiastic approach to life, her faith, and her wisdom.

A memorial and celebration will be held next summer at Portage Lake in Michigan on August 3, 2013.

We are pleased to post her favorite prayer by a pioneer of nature, love, and protection.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord.
Where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, only light.
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Oh, Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand.
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in giving that we receive.
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Center Enjoys a Successful Student Dialogue on Sustainable Foods

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education would like to thank all who participated in the seventh annual Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue on Monday, October 8, 2012. The event was a great success with over 200 students, faculty, administrators, and community members participating in an exciting and informative evening.

The evening began with a networking session with snacks and refreshments prepared by Center staff. The session allowed guests to meet and talk with 14 local organizations and student groups who came to spread their own message about sustainable food systems. We extend our gratitude to the organizations that offered their time and knowledge for our event. We would also like to thank our Distinguished Keynote Listeners, Dean Mitchell Cordova of the College of Health Professions and Social Work at FGCU, and FGCU Senior Tyler J. Offerman, who is the first student to have received this honor for his legacy of fighting for environmental justice. These individuals were recognized for their support in promoting more sustainable food choices in the community at large.

This year's Dialogue successfully illustrated how choosing to consume sustainable foods nourishes the mind, body, and soul. Panelists Kelly Walsh, Dr. John Edwards, and Dr. Kris De Welde spoke passionately on the subject and sparked an interactive dialogue amongst students and community members. The event raised awareness about the ethical and health implications behind sustainable food choices, and demonstrated how consumers in Southwest Florida can utilize local resources to achieve these benefits. This year’s Dialogue was moderated by Center Associate and Instructor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Civic Engagement at FGCU Brandon Hollingshead, who was instrumental in establishing the first event in honor of Terry Tempest Williams in 2005.

Kelly Walsh, President of the Food Foresters club at FGCU, proudly represented the student body as the speaker for the ‘mind’ segment of this year’s Dialogue. Dr. John Edwards, local chiropractor and real-food activist, addressed the physical effects of eating sustainably as the speaker for the ‘body’ portion of the lecture. Finally, Dr. Kris De Welde, Director of General Education and Associate Professor of Sociology at FGCU, concluded the evening by discussing the moral and ethical dimensions of sustainable food systems encompassed in the ‘soul’ segment. To view a transcript of De Welde's comments please follow this link. Dr. De Welde also works closely with the Center as a Senior Faculty Associate. Together the speakers cohesively explored the ethical, moral, and health components of sustainable food systems and urged consumers to take these ideas into consideration when choosing when and where to procure their food.

The evening ended with a lively question and answer session during which members of the audience were given the opportunity to ask the three panelists specific questions on topics covered earlier in the evening. The panelists fielded a wide variety of questions from the diverse audience and candidly answered each question. The three panelists provided a wealth of information to the audience and we thank them for donating their time and expertise for the Dialogue.

In preparation for this year’s Dialogue, Center Student Assistants created a “Guide to Eating Sustainably in Southwest Florida.” The goal of this guide is to provide students and community members with the resources necessary to make healthy, affordable, and  sustainable decisions about the foods they consume.

Thanks again to all who helped to make this year's Dialogue a success. To view photos from the event visit our photo gallery. For more information about the Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue and sustainable food systems, please contact the Center for Environment and Sustainability Education by email at or by phone at (239) 590-7166.

The Center is excited to announce its seventh annual Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue entitled “Sustainable Food to Nourish Mind, Body, and Soul.” The Dialogue will address ethical, humane, and sustainable food options available at Florida Gulf Coast University and in Southwest Florida. This year's Dialogue will illustrate how choosing to consume sustainable foods nourishes the mind, body, and soul. The goal of this year’s Dialogue is to demonstrate how a conscientious young person on a budget in Southwest Florida can utilize local resources and benefit from consuming sustainable foods.

All are invited to attend the Dialogue on Monday, October 8, 2012 outside of the FGCU Cohen Center at 6:00 PM. The Center also encourages students, community members, faculty and staff, campus leaders, and stakeholders to attend the networking session for conversation and light refreshments beginning at 5:00 PM, as well as the question and answer session following the Dialogue.

We are pleased to announce our panel of speakers for this year’s Dialogue. Dr. Kris DeWelde is the Director of General Education in the Office of Undergraduate Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. De Welde’s personal and professional ethics have led her to work closely with the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education as a Senior Faculty Associate and integrate the Earth Charter into her teaching, especially in her Sociology of Food course. She is deeply concerned about the local and global food system, as well as the social and environmental consequences of our relationship to food, and envisions a day where all creatures are treated with dignity and respect.

John “Doc” Edwards is a chiropractor, community activist, and researcher whose expertise led him to be appointed Director of Public Education for Queensland's branch of the Chiropractor’s Association of Australia. He is the owner of Mama's Chiropractic Clinic, a family practice with a special focus on the needs of expecting moms and children. Doc was the host and executive producer of the video podcast Guerilla Health Report, which won a Telly Award in 2011. It was through reporting the holistic perspective on medical and science news for GHR that Dr. Edwards learned about the sustainable food movement, and that educational process shifted him from consumer to “real food” advocate.

Florida Gulf Coast University student Kelly Walsh is President of the Food Foresters, a club dedicated to the management of the student-initiated FGCU Food Forest. She is employed as the Food Forest Service-Learning Coordinator, where she leads events for students to learn about sustainable agricultural practices while earning their service-learning requirements. Her roles in the Food Forest allow her to delve into her “deep-seeded” passion for educating about sustainable food as a solution to many of the pressing issues facing our generation.

The Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue is a signature event of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education. For more information, please contact the Center by email at or by phone at 239-590-7166


President Bradshaw Appoints New Members to Center's Board of Advisors

President Wilson G. Bradshaw recently appointed three new Members to the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education's Board of Advisors. The new appointees are: FGCU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Professor of Marine Sciences, Dr. Ronald Toll; Vikki Spruill, current President and CEO of the Ocean Conservancy and newly appointed President and CEO of the Council on Foundations; and Akpezi Ogbuigwe, the head of Environmental Education and Training for the United Nations Environment Programme. 

FGCU Provost Dr. Ronald B. Toll holds an A.A. degree in Biology from Union College in Cranford, N.J. and a B.A. in Zoology from Rutgers University. He received his doctoral degree in Biological Oceanography from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Miami. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC Dr. Toll began his faculty career at the University of the South in Tennessee. He has held multiple administrative roles and is an accomplished publisher of marine science research.

Spruill brings a blend of expertise in both collaborative leadership and philanthropy with her involvement. She was the fifth person, and the only woman, ever to be the CEO of the Ocean Conservancy’s 40-year history. Prior to her appointment at Ocean Conservancy, Ms. Spruill was president and founder of SeaWeb, a non-profit organization that uses strategic communications techniques to advance ocean conservation.

Akpezi Ogbuigwe is known for her vast experience in the field of environmental education, research and training. Prior to joining UNEP, Akpezi Ogbuigwe was a Professor of Law at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Nigeria and volunteered her time at ANPEZ Centre for Environment and Development, Port Harcourt , Nigeria where she worked with schools, communities, government and the private sector on issues of environment and development and the running of an environmental library.

The Center’s Board of Advisors includes distinguished scholars, activist, scientist, and educators from the local community and across the world. If you would like to learn more about the Center’s Board of Advisors and their work please visit the Center’s Board of Advisors page.

Where in the World is Peter Blaze Corcoran?!

Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran recently traveled to China to give speeches at both ends of the Yangtze River! 

At the mouth of the Yangtze in Shanghai he represent President Wilson G. Bradshaw and Florida Gulf Coast University at the official launch of the United Nations Environment Programme's Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability (GUPES) on June 5-6, 2012.  Dr. Corcoran served as one of two delegates representing North America on the steering committee which guided the development of the GUPES program over the last two years.  The goal of the project is to “promote the integration of environment and sustainability concerns into teaching, research, community engagement and the management of universities, as well as to enhance student engagement and participation in sustainability activities."

Corcoran said " After nearly two years of development, it was exciting to launch this significant effort by university leaders to bring strong sustainability to their institutions.  It was a privilege to present the sustainability initiatives of Florida Gulf Coast University on the global stage."

At the headwaters of the Yangtze, high on the Tibetan Plateau, in the Yunnan Province, Dr. Corcoran gave talks at the Shangri-la Institute for Sustainable Communities and Shangri-la College.  Drawing on James Hilton's 1932 novel,  Lost Horizon, his address was entitled, "Lost Horizon and Expanding Horizons: Finding our Way in Times of Accelerating Change."  He was able to visit to visit a lamasery, a monastery, and a nunnery, which use the Earth Charter as a way of reconnecting with traditional knowledge and Buddhist ethical values.



Routledge Press London Publishes Latest Center Book

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University recently revised a book for an international audience about the concept and practice of sustainable development. Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran and editorial associate, Joseph P. Weakland collaborated with Dutch author Niko Roorda to translate and edit the textbook, Fundamentals of Sustainable Development. London-based publisher, Routledge, recently published the book on March 26, 2012.

Author, Dr. Niko Roorda said, “Thanks to the ideas and contributions of Corcoran and Weakland, the scope of the book has been made fully international, making it suitable for students and scholars in the USA, the UK and everywhere else in the world.”

Fundamentals of Sustainable Development is an interactive and complete educational tool for both teachers and students. The book comes with a website containing exercises, learning goals, and summaries for each chapter as well as over forty video clips. It also offers a ‘lecturer section’, which includes a PowerPoint to accompany every chapter with answers and explanations to the exercises.

Those with no previous knowledge of sustainable development can read the book with ease.  The first part presents an overview of the conceptual and practical challenges in sustainable development stemming from human – environment relations as well as ensuing issues of inequality and insecurity.  The second part explores strategies and solutions for facing these challenges.  It presents a number of case studies drawn from India, China, the European Union, and Africa, and draws on a range of disciplines to investigate topics such as climate change, energy, technology, political and economic instruments, and sustainable business practices.

Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran said, “It was an honor for the Center to be called upon to assist in this important international book project. We are excited by the extensive online resources that will be available to teachers as part of the book.”

For more details on the book or purchasing information, please click on the following link, "Fundamentals of Sustainable Development."


Mr. Wilkinson Goes to Washington

This past month, FGCU Professor and Center Senior Faculty Advisor Neil Wilkinson represented Florida Gulf Coast University in Washington, D.C. at the first White House Summit on Environmental Education on April 16, 2012.  As an environmental education instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences and Vice-President of the Florida Mosquito Control Association, Neil took the opportunity to highlight Florida Gulf Coast University’s environmental mission and commitment to graduating ecologically literate students and the many partnerships with local agencies that support FGCU’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

The White House Summit on Environmental Education convened a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss the importance of environmental education and the core concepts and principles that best contribute to environmental literacy.  The Summit featured two panels of environmental education leaders, remarks from several Administration officials and a panel on the Federal government's on-going commitment to the field of environmental education.

This Summit included about 100 environmental education leaders and practitioners from around the country for a series of panel discussions and action workshops.  Lisa Jackson, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Arne Duncan, secretary for the U. S. Department of Education welcomed guests by announcing the reconvening of a federal task force to coordinate environmental education among 15 federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, and Departments of Education, Interior, Health, Transportation, and Labor.  Wilkinson said, “It was exciting to have so many federal agency leaders come together to address the importance of environmental education.”

The importance and role of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education was reinforced and the focus on inclusion of children from low-income families was emphasized.  Formal and informal initiatives were promoted to explore best practices that foster lifelong environmental stewardship and assess environmental education accomplishments. 

If you would like more information on the White House Summit on Environmental Education please visit


Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend a Great Success!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Annual Fundraising Celebration Photos Posted 

Please See Photo Gallery on Left

Provost Ron Toll, Erika Boliek, Dean Mitch Cordova, Dean Donna Price Henry, and Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran

The Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend was recently held on Sanibel Island. The Weekend featured a productive Board of Advisors meeting and a successful Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration for the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education.

The Board of Advisors met early Saturday at Sanibel’s West Wind Inn to discuss future plans for the Center. The Board includes local, national, and international scholars. At the meeting, members of the Board reviewed and adopted the Center’s new strategic plan for the next five years, 2012-2017. 

Later that evening, approximately two hundred people joined the Center at the beachfront home of Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer to celebrate the most successful year in the Center’s history. At the event, guests enjoyed a dazzling array of hors d'oeuvres, refreshments, and a breathtaking sunset.  The wonderful music of harpist Leslie Gregory and the harp and fiddle duo, Castlebay, was also heard throughout the evening.

As part of the evening's celebrations, Board of Advisors Member Armand Ball presented the Rachel Carson Award to Dr. Louise M. Johnson for her long time service to the Center and the greater community of Sanibel. This is the highest honor given by the Center and took the form of a locally-found lightning whelk.

Co-chairs of the Board of Advisors David Orr and Mary Evelyn Tucker also gave thoughtful reflections on the work of the Center as part of the night’s celebrations. During her stay on Sanibel, Board Member and award-winning poet Alison Hawthorne Deming wrote a poem for Mary Oliver entitled “WHAT CONTINUES.”  She concluded the evening by reading her poem aloud. She then went on to announce the Haffenreffer Challenge. The full poem can be seen below.

In addition to their generosity in hosting the Fundraising Celebration, Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer have continued an annual tradition of energizing donor participation with the Haffenreffer Challenge. They will match any donations to the Center up to a total of $10,000!

Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran said, “Thanks to Deming’s poem and the Haffenreffer’s creativity, the event was a heartfelt tribute to our seriously ill, beloved poet, Mary Oliver. It was full of spirit and meaning.”

The Center extends its gratitude to all those who contributed to its fundraising efforts.   The Center truly appreciates every contribution and hopes to continue to receive ongoing support from friends, colleagues, and stakeholders.  Such support is vital to the Center's efforts and allows us to continue to “work toward realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for earth through scholarship, education and action.”

For those who were unable to attend the event, but would still like to make a contribution to help us meet the Haffenreffer Challenge, you may send a check to:

Peter Blaze Corcoran
10501 FGCU Boulevard South
Fort Myers, Florida 33965
Make checks payable to CESE/FGCU

WHAT CONTINUES...A Poem in Honor of Mary Oliver

Two men in lawn chairs hats straw
crocs royal blue
cast lines into the gulf
great blue heron stands
say ten feet behind the men
upright as an old school deacon
as focused on what’s beyond.

Later I find the heron
down the beach
silver supper in its bill
thrashing the tinseled
energy pinned
in the pincered bill
the heron taking its time
shifting the fish into line
so it slips without struggle
down the throat.

Does the bird
feel the catch
flitter in its belly?
Does that disturb
the heron or is it
a kind of satiety
that restless truth
or is it just a fact?

I don’t think that
the deep-sea shrimp
feel much when they gorge
on luminescent bacteria
which light up the gut
like a neon sign for food.
So it goes all along
the chorus line predator to prey.

I saw a huge gull standing say
ten feet behind the heron
as it worked to balance its fish
before swallowing 
the gull watching the heron
just as the heron had watched the men
the men had watched
the lapping chalky waves
and I had watched them all
feeling something was being
conveyed in the moment

as if to watch    
and watching to imagine—what?
this small moment
opening into the great
mystery of hunger and beauty
death and renewal
as if the very moment
were the purpose
any of us
had been called to.                         
                                 --Alison Hawthorne Deming

Letter from Mary Oliver to the Center 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Copyright 2005. Rachel Giese Brown.

As many Center stakeholders know by now, Mary Oliver has been diagnosed with a serious illness.  As you can read below, we have decided to cancel the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture scheduled for Friday, February 17, 2012. We have not cancelled the Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration scheduled for Saturday, February 18, 2012 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  It is fully subscribed, but we are keeping a waiting list.  See below for details.


We were delighted to receive the following letter on Monday, February 13, 2012 from the poet...


Dear Peter Blaze Corcoran and the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education,    

I am more deeply regretful and apologetic than I can say that I failed my visit. It's so clear that you love and honor exactly the things that I do, my visit was to be a great delight. But what happened to me, which demands all my attention, chose its own time. A public reading, even in beautiful Sanibel, is out of my range just now.  

I am enclosing two poems, perhaps someone would read them for me. The first, very short, may suggest what my trouble is, an old trouble revisiting.  Some of you may be familiar with my poems about Percy; if so it may bring you a little pleasure. I hope so.  

Again, I am very very sorry. 


Mary Oliver    


                                  “After I fall Down the Stairs at the Golden Temple"                                

For awhile I could not remember some word
I was in need of,
and I was bereaved and said: where are you
beloved friend?

-Mary Oliver


The first time Percy came back
he was not sailing on a cloud.
He was loping along the sand as though
he had come a great way.
"Percy," I cried out, and reached to him—
those white curls—
but he was unreachable. As music
is present yet you can't touch it.
"Yes, it's all different," he said.
"You're going to be very surprised."
But I wasn't thinking of that. I only
wanted to hold him. "Listen," he said,
"I miss that too.
And now you'll be telling stories
of my coming back
and they won't be false, and they won't be true,
but they'll be real."
And then, as he used to, he said, "Let's go!"
And we walked down the beach together.

-Mary Oliver

Difficult News Regarding Mary Oliver 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mary Oliver. Credit Rob Howard 

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability regrets to share difficult news concerning poet Mary Oliver.  We have learned that Oliver has just received an unexpected diagnosis of a very serious illness.  Unfortunately, her aggressive treatment plan requires no travel and no public appearances on doctor's orders.  She had been greatly looking forward to delivering the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education.  We hope that you will join us in sending prayers, healing thoughts, and well wishes to Mary Oliver at this difficult time.  We encourage you to spend time reading her poetry aloud.

After considering a variety of options and out of respect for Mary Oliver, we have decided to cancel the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture that was scheduled for next Friday, February 17, 2012 at Saint Michael and All Angels Church on Sanibel Island. We have also cancelled the Master Class with Florida Gulf Coast University students that was scheduled for Thursday, February 16, 2012 on campus.  We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.

We will go forward with the Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration on Saturday, February 18, 2012, 5:00-8:00pm on Sanibel Island.  Although Mary Oliver was not planning to attend this event, hosts Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer wish to have the evening honor her.  Poet Alison Hawthorne Deming and Center Board Co-Chairs Mary Evelyn Tucker and David Orr will celebrate her contributions to the literary arts and the spirit of Rachel Carson with their remarks.

The Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration is now fully subscribed.  If you replied that you were coming to the party and have sent a contribution, please join us as planned.  If your contribution did not arrive before the party filled, we will call to see if you would like to be added to the waiting list.  We will call before cashing your contribution check.  If your plans have changed and you are not attending the party, please let us know and we will offer your place to someone on the waiting list.  Thank you.

We will also be happy to receive questions or comments at 

We greatly appreciate your understanding and support at this difficult time.


 Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture

Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration 

Saturday, February 18, 2012, 5:00-8:00pm

Sanibel  Island, Florida

Not Cancelled!

Photo Courtesy of Carol Orr Hartman- Breeze Publications.

The response to this year's Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend and Annual Fundraising Celebration has been very positive.

The Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration is now fully subscribed.  We are keeping a waiting list.  We will call contributors on the waiting list before cashing their contribution checks. Please carpool to the Haffenreffer's home if possible as parking will be a challenge.  We thank you for this great support of the Center's work. 

The Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration will still be held on Sanibel Island, Saturday, February 18, 2012, from 5:00-8:00pm at the beachfront home of Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer.  This is the major fundraising event for the Center and helps to further its sustainability initiatives locally and globally.  At the party, guests can enjoy hors d'oeuvres prepared from locally grown produce, a  glorious view of the sunset, and a walk along the beach.

Brief remarks will be given at the party by Center Board of Advisors Co-Chairs, Mary Evelyn Tucker and David Orr, seen together in the photo on the right with Advisor Rick Clugston from a previous Celebration.  Award-winning poet and Board of Advisors Member Alison Hawthorne Deming will also be giving brief remarks.

For those attending the Fundraising Celebration, a contribution of $50 per person is suggested.  If you are unable to attend the event, but would still like to make a contribution, you may send a check made payable to the following:

Peter Blaze Corcoran, Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education
10501 FGCU Boulevard South
Fort Myers, Florida 33965-6565

For more information, or if you did not receive your invitation, please contact the Center by email at or by phone at (239) 590-7166. 





The following background stories provide information on preparing for the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend...


Island Women Respond to Mary Oliver’s Upcoming Visit

Photograph Mary Oliver. Copyright 2005 Rachel Giese Brown

The response that Sanibel, Captiva, and Useppa Island residents have had to Mary Oliver visiting Sanibel to do a poetry reading with commentary has been extravagant. Several Island women were quick to respond about their opportunity to see and hear this celebrated American poet.

Center Director and Sanibel resident, Peter Blaze Corcoran, explains, “Many island residents are clearly devoted readers of Mary Oliver. The response from Island women has been especially moving. We look forward to an inspiring reading for both those new to and familiar with her work.”

Rev. Dr. Ellen Sloan, Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church and Center Host Committee Member said, “I have collected her poetry for many years, and I am ecstatic that Mary Oliver is coming to Sanibel. I am so happy that everyone else will also have the opportunity to enjoy her work.”

Hollie Schmid from the Sanibel Island Bookshop, which will be selling books at the Lecture, said “I am thrilled to have National Book Award winning author Mary Oliver come to Sanibel Island! She writes so beautifully of nature and shows us the extraordinary in everyday life. Being on a sanctuary island and listening to Mary Oliver read her poetry will be the perfect fit!"

Ginny Amsler from Useppa Island shared that, “Mary Oliver’s poem About Angels and About Trees means a great deal to my friends and me. That poem touched us when we had one of our loved ones die. My friends and I want to go to the Lecture to say thank you to Mary Oliver.”

Holly Maiz, Sanibel resident and Center Host Committee Member, wrote to the Center saying, “I am completely thrilled that Mary Oliver is coming to Sanibel for the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture. I have been reading and sharing her poems for years. She is one of the few people who manage to put the damp smell of earth directly onto the page! I have read her poems for students and clients, and taken her poems as my only reads while trekking in the wilderness. I can't wait for my friends here to see her.”

Captiva Memorial Librarian, Anne Bradley, told us, “Mary Oliver is a poet of stature and vision. To attend a reading by her will be a rare treat.”

The Center’s Annual Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture is being held Friday, February 17, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church on Sanibel Island. The following evening the Center will also be holding their Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Sanibel Island beachfront home of Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer. The lecture will be free and open to the public. Seats will be reserved for contributors to the Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration.

Invitations to the Lecture and the Fundraising Celebration have been sent to the Center’s mailing list. If you did not receive your invitation and would like one, or would like more information on the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture and the Annual Fundraising Celebration, please visit the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at or contact us at or (239) 590-7166.

Sanibel Book Lovers Await Mary Oliver’s Arrival

The Sanibel Island Bookshop and the Sanibel Memorial Library have made special preparations for this year’s Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture in honor of Mary Oliver. Both have made arrangements to make Mary Oliver’s work readily accessible to Islanders.     

 The staff of the Sanibel Public Library has organized a display of Mary Oliver’s books that are available for borrowing. Hollie Schmid, at the Sanibel Island Bookshop has also created an elaborate display of Mary Oliver’s works. Books available for purchase will include Mary Oliver’s, Pulitzer Prize winner, “American Primitive,” National Book Award winner for Poetry, “New and Selected Poems Volume One,” and many others! Mary Oliver has agreed to sign books after the Lecture. If you have not had a chance to purchase one of Oliver’s books please pick one up and read her poetry aloud. 

 Hollie explains that she is "thrilled to have National Book Award winning author Mary Oliver come to Sanibel Island! She writes so beautifully of nature and shows us the extraordinary in everyday life. Being on a sanctuary island and listening to Mary Oliver read her poetry will be the perfect fit!"


2012 Host Committee for the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend Prepares for Mary Oliver's Visit

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University and its Island friends have been busy preparing for poet Mary Oliver’s visit to Sanibel Island for this year's Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture.  The Lecture is an annual event of the Center that furthers our work toward realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for Earth through scholarship, education, and action.  The Center aims to elevate the environmental mission of FGCU and serve the local community of the Western Everglades and Barrier Islands.

Residents of the Southwest Florida community and Center staff joined to form a 2012 Host Committee to prepare for Mary Oliver’s visit to Sanibel.  The Center is holding Host Committee meetings weekly at The Sanibel Bean in preparation for the Lecture and Fundraising Celebration. Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran has been working with the group to finalize the Center’s arrangements for the upcoming Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend.  Host Committee members include

Larry Amon

Armand and Beverly Ball

David and Gillian Bath

John and Mary Ann Boorn

Claudia Burns

Mary Bursley Carter

Jill Dillon

Sandy and Tom Ehlers

Rusty Farst

Tim Gardner

Barbara Goodbody

Mallory and Peter Haffenreffer

Jay Halcrow

Yvonne Hill

Louise Johnson

Virginia Jones

Tom Krekel

Holly Maiz

Paul McCarthy

Roy and Judi McCloskey

John and Judy Pryor

Donna Roberts and Gerald Hoffman

Ellis Robinson and Dick Mark

Bill Schawbel and Judy Samelson

Ellen Sloan

Tylor Stewart

Ellen and Lloyd Wells

John and Martha Wolf

Judy Workman


The Lecture will be held Friday, February 17, 2012 at 7:30 PM at Saint Michael and All Angels Church on Sanibel Island.  The Lecture is free and open to the public but seats will be reserved for contributors to the Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration.

The evening after the lecture, Saturday, February 18, 2012, the Center’s Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration will be held at the Sanibel Island beachfront home of Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.  This is a major fundraising event for the Center and helps to further its sustainability initiatives locally and globally.

If  have any questions or would like to request an invitation please contact the Center at or by phone at 239-590-7166.


Center Posts Concept Statement for 2012 Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education recently finalized and posted its concept statement for this year's Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture featuring poet Mary Oliver.  The Center has chosen to feature Mary Oliver for this year's Lecture because her poetry urges readers to reconsider the role of nature in our everyday lives.  Her poems rekindle what Rachel Carson  calls the "sense of wonder" for the natural world.  The work of Rachel Carson not only inspired the creation of our annual Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture, but is also the inspiration for much of our work at the Center.

After being informed that Mary Oliver would be giving this year's Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture, Poet and Center Board of Advisors Member, Alison Hawthorne Deming remarked:

"How many people carry a Mary Oliver poem around in their pocket, wallet, notebook, or heart?  Her poems have spread like seeds dispersing on the wind, in the paws of animals, the beaks of birds.  Her work and its broad following speaks to the power of poetry to make our lives resonate with the more-than-human world that embraces us.  She is our talismanic poet of ponds and woods, bears and marsh hawks, body and spirit.  Her poems transform the argument between amazement and skepticism into the beauty of song."

To access the complete version of this year's Concept Statement, please visit our Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Series page.