The outdoors meets the outdoors with a gift from LL Bean to School of Ecology

River Bend Farm School of Ecology in North Saco recently announced the receipt of a $ 500,000 donation from LL Bean. Courtesy photo / Ecology school

CESO – A three-year sponsorship of the River Bend Family Camp, the construction of a new finish plaza and a new riparian area for recreation and environmental education on the Saco River will be funded by a donation of $ 500,000 from LL Bean, recently announced the School of Ecology.

The school marked the official opening of its campus at River Bend Farm on Simpson Road in North Saco on Earth Day in April.

“We are very grateful for this generous gift from LL Bean and energized that they wanted to invest in our work to invite people of all ages away from their screens and out,” said the president and co- founder of The Ecology School Drew Dumsch in a prepared statement.

Dumsch noted that LL Bean’s support at the campus arrival plaza, where those arriving in groups unload their equipment, as well as serving as a gathering place to receive an official welcome; the new waterfront and the annual Family Camp are in keeping with the outdoor brand’s commitment to the well-being of others through time spent outdoors.

The River Bend Farm Campus Project is the result of dozens of generous donors and has brought together the state’s top green design, construction and renewable energy leaders.

“All of these significant donations have enabled us to fulfill our hope of creating a campus of national significance,” said Dumsch of The Ecology School.

News of LL Bean’s donation comes shortly after the big unveiling of River Bend Farm during Earth Week, which included the opening of a 144-bed, 9,000-square-foot dormitory, Poland Spring Education and Dining Commons 7,000 square feet, and switch ”on a 712-panel solar panel that generates 105 percent net positive energy on the 105-acre campus.

“We know that time spent outdoors can have a huge impact on our physical, mental and emotional well-being,” Shawn Gorman, executive chairman of LL Bean said in the statement. “We are proud to partner with The Ecology School, which strives to help children of all ages discover the world around them through an outdoor-oriented educational approach.”

Construction of the campus took six years and $ 14.1 million, including contributions from a range of multiple donors, a USDA rural development loan of $ 8.66 million and $ 1.85 million. CIS dollars in long-term funding and a fundraising campaign of $ 3.6 million.

The ecology school continues to seek additional support for accessibility features for people with disabilities, permaculture landscaping, staff accommodation and a new kitchen root cellar to store produce grown on the farm. , according to school officials.

“We are deeply grateful to LL Bean and our many supporters across the country and here in Maine,” said Dumsch. “We believe that the River Bend Farm School of Ecology provides an extraordinary example of how institutions can transform historic rural landscapes by honoring the past, while integrating green design, green building, the way of life. sustainability and agroecology. ”

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