ECHO’s mission is to inspire and engage families in the joy of scientific discovery, wonder of nature, and care of Lake Champlain to achieve our vision of a science-savvy community where people and nature thrive together. Since 1995, ECHO has taught more than 2.5 million visitors about the role of science in our culture and lives. ECHO welcomes our guests into an architecturally award-winning, LEED-certified facility. Through more than 100 interactive exhibits; 70 species of fish, reptiles, and amphibians; major changing exhibits; a 2,500-square foot early learning interactive space; ECHO encourages visitors to view the natural environment as part of their neighborhood and to explore, learn about, and consider opportunities for stewardship. This work is delivered by a dedicated team of 29 staff, 250 volunteers and 75 interns, and more than 70 community partners. ECHO is home to a consortium of organizations working for public and academic engagement in science: the Lake Champlain Basin Program; the UVM Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory and research vessel; US Sea Grant Watershed Alliance; and the Lake Champlain Navy Memorial located in Hoehl Park.
Supported by meaningful partnerships and an informed understanding of audience need, ECHO provides high-impact science-based learning experiences in and outside our walls. As a public museum, 170,000 annual visitors including 75,000 children, 4,000 member households, 15,000 school children visit us on the Waterfront in Burlington. Our community access program, in partnership with social service partners provides 33,000+ free or significantly reduced admission recipients and 2,200 complimentary memberships. Our outreach programs serve 5,000 students through pop-up museum STEM festivals and multi-year school partnerships.
ECHO’s wide-ranging education programs include: STEM Kits to 80+ classrooms, addressing the needs of 1,500 early learners and 300+ preschool educators by creating curricula, hands-on materials, continuing education credits, and professional development training to support science literacy across VT; engages New American, refugee, and under-served populations to prepare 90+ children for transition to formal preschool or kindergarten. This free, weekly, informal care program supports play-based learning for child and caregiver together; reading-readiness; and caregiver learning and resources to foster safe, supportive, and enriching learning environments for children at home; a year-long teen leadership program inspires 9th-12th grade highly diverse students to develop career skills in leadership, goal setting, public speaking, science communication, financial literacy, and teamwork. As a capstone, they lead the annual Community Science Night for 750 people from the Vermont Mentoring Community and; annually, 75 undergraduate students gain career-relevant experience in animal care, education, information technology, communications, and event management, working closely with staff mentors to further individual career goals. Additionally, 250 education and animal care volunteers serve 16,000+ hours annually.