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Coming Soon! Otter Valley Nature Center

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17 years ago two little otters changed everything!  They shared with us the joy and healing power that simply spending time with them can achieve.

Blackie and Pinky were the names of the otters that started us on this incredible journey when these intelligent and emotional creatures stole our hearts from the very beginning.   It turns out that this was a good thing too because they were also mischievous, destructive and very, very stinky!

We have seen time and again that interacting with animals makes an incredible impact on people.  We often hear from the parents of Make-A-Wish children that because of the medical challenges the children are experiencing, they haven’t seen their children smile in months.  And yet those very same children spend the day at Nurtured by Nature giggling and smiling and forgetting that they are ill.  Animals don’t care if you don’t have hair or if you use a wheelchair, they treat you just the same as everyone else.  Spending time with our animals is in essence, much needed medicine for the spirit and soul for these children and their families.

Children who visit from organizations like Big Brothers/Big Sisters have an opportunity to see fun and interesting career path goals to strive for while learning about the importance of animal and habitat conservation.

a small brown animal
a little boy sitting on a table

Visitors who work at local hospice organizations have an incredibly challenging profession and don’t often afford themselves time to recharge.  Visiting Nurtured by Nature and experiencing direct contact with our interesting and fun-loving animals makes more of an impact than most would expect.  We had one recent hospice worker write to us and tell us that she could not remember the last time she laughed and experienced so much joy.

a cat with its mouth open
a little girl holding a dog

Growing to Meet New Needs

Aside from the height of the pandemic, Nurture by Nature experienced year over year increases in requests for charity sponsored Otter Swim Encounters. Now that Make-A-Wish has resumed wish trips, we have easily been booking twice as many monthly charity Otter Swims as in years past. Balancing the health and well being of our animals and participants within our current facilities has become an ever-more complex undertaking.

Seven years ago, the founders of Nurtured by Nature purchased the old Guadalupano Church in Pauma Valley with the intention of moving Nurtured by Nature operations to that location as our programming grew larger than our initial environment. Under Phase One, we renovated the front part of the 5-acre property, which featured a 50-year-old church. The church has been rebuilt as an event hall for special events and community-building activities. We are now focused on the second and final phase, which will include the all-weather, ADA accessible, interactive nature conservation center.

This new facility will permit us to create an all-weather ADA accessible space that will allow us to provide our animal encounters to children who may be physically compromised in a more comfortable environment that will not be negatively influenced by heat, cold, rain, or wind. We will also be building a lazy river where we can roll wheelchair users into the shallow waters to be climbed on by our playful otters.

In addition to making our Otter Swim programs as accessible as possible, the new Center will allow Nurtured by Nature to expand our programming to include a reptile and small mammal interactive classroom as well as areas where visitors can enjoy capybara and other animal encounters.

Growing in a sustainable way is very important to us at Nurtured by Nature.  We have always worked hard to repurpose, reuse, and recycle as much as possible.  Otter Valley will illustrate an eco-friendly operation that demonstrates how we can all successfully create beautiful and usable spaces with reused resources while significantly decreasing the impact we have on our environment and natural habitats.

Progress To Date

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We are excited to report that we have already received nearly half of our fundraising goal to date, made possible by a generous lead gift from the JEM Foundation.  In order to open the Center’s doors by Fall 2023, we are requesting support from both our local and online communities.

With the establishment of the Otter Valley Center, not only will our beneficiaries enjoy unparalleled accessibility and comfort when they visit for their sponsored Otter Swims, our animals will be able to enjoy new enclosures which meet current best practices to support animal well-being.

Furthermore, with a facility designed with animal health and environmental sustainability at the core, the Otter Valley Nature Center will help us to educate and influence millions of people through social media regarding the conservation of the species of animals that we have at our facility and the habitats that they live around the world.

a group of people standing in front of a building

We are seeking funding to help put the finishing touches on the animal encounter greenhouse, ADA heated and accessible swimming pool, ADA accessible 18” deep otter lazy river, a small mammal and reptile interactive classroom, ADA accessible pathways, and sustainable landscaping, AND to assist us with expanding our team to be able to accommodate this new growth.

Sustainability is at the heart of Nurture by Nature; it’s why we do what we do. In addition to building with repurposed, reused, and recycled materials, our landscaping will be dual purpose by providing shade and crops to feed animals, and fruits to harvest, sell, and teach regenerative agriculture. We will implement an aquaponic system in the greenhouse where we can raise tilapia to help supplement otter food while also creating a heatsink to maintain comfortable temperatures in the greenhouse with minimal energy usage.  We are installing solar panels to assist with green energy generation, which will also enable us to create electric car charging stations to promote eco-friendly transportation and lessen our impact on the environment.

Why We Need Your Help

For several years, the primary source of funding for operations and the free programs that we offer have been our Public Otter Swim Encounters. We generally open the Public Otter Swim calendar for the upcoming year in November. Prior to Covid, the demand for these programs was so great that for years we filled the entire upcoming year of reservations within minutes of opening the calendar! That means that each year we filled a little more than 1000 spots within 15 minutes! Thanks to the support of the community, we are able to dedicate our time and resources to caring for the well being of all of our animals; however, with our new goals, we find ourselves in need of raising additional funds for continued growth and success.

Additionally, Nurtured by Nature’s mission is to spread awareness about the necessity of conservation and environmental protection. With this new Center, we aim to provide a welcoming, high-quality facility that will enable us to disseminate this expertise both, in person and online, while also providing the highest standards of care for our animals.

We are turning to you now to ask you to invest in us–as you have all along these past years. Whether you enjoyed an Otter Swim or helped us spread awareness of conservation through our social media channels, you have been integral in Nurtured by Nature’s journey over the past decade. So that we can continue to offer the experiences and education so loved by our community members, we ask that you consider a one-time donation that will support the care of our animals in a safe, accessible, and sustainable new home for the next several decades.

You can send your tax deductible donation through the following link OR send a check made payable to Nurtured by Nature to 15630 Rim of the Valley, Valley Center CA  92082.  For your records, Nurtured by Nature is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.  Our tax id number is 41-2272934.  Thank you again for your generosity!

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