Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (Punta Gorda , FL)


  • Name:Ashley Demarais
  • Title:Program Coordinator

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center
  • Address:10941 Burnt Store Road
    Punta Gorda , FL 33993
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:941-575-5435

Organization Web

User Phone

  • Direct phone:941-575-5435

User Email


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  • Mission:
  • The Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (CHEC) is a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization dedicated to providing environmental education and land management resources to Charlotte County and neighboring communities. Our focus is on providing immersive land and water exploration activities designed to foster a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, our natural resources. We offer a variety of programs accessible to adults and children of varying abilities. Some of the programs offered include: wading/sea-grass adventures, pontoon boat journeys, guided hikes, summer camps, and toddler nature explorations. Through these community-based projects we seek to encourage positive behavioral changes, encouraging responsible land stewardship through environmental education programs.

  • Overview:
  • The Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center manages 2 strategically placed locations which work together to provide environmental education to all of Charlotte County and the surrounding areas. What began in 1987 as a single field studies course designed to re-introduce Charlotte County 4th grade students to the wonderful world of nature has since expanded into nearly 20 additional programs. Our most popular activities are described below:

    Seagrass Wading Adventures allow visitors of all ages to join CHEC educators on a wading trip excursion where they will lean about Charlotte Harbor’s protected estuary system and the importance of maintaining our local seagrass beds. All 2nd graders enrolled in the public school system are provided a free field trip opportunity through this program.

    Barrels for Education is a newly established water conservation project designed to get kids motivated to make sustainable changes in their community. During their visit, students will paint rain barrels and participate in native plant gardening activities. All finished products will be sold at our next native plant sale with the profits from this sale directly benefiting low-income students in the area.

    CHEC’s reptile outreach program brings the CHEC experience into the public school system and other public education facilities. During this program students will learn about our areas often misunderstood reptiles and what steps we can take to help protect these vital species. This program is offered free to all 3rd grade teachers working within the Charlotte County public school system.

    Guided nature hikes encourage visitors to explore CHEC’s gorgeous trails and waterways with the guidance of a trained naturalist, building meaningful connections with nature in the process. Throughout the excursion participants will learn about Florida’s natural areas and wildlife.

    Naturally Fit Sunrise Yoga and Trail Trekking combine exercise with the outdoors to produce a calming fitness program that is designed to keep guests motivated, healthy, and eager for the possibility of encountering rare wildlife.

    Little Explorers programs introduce pre-schoolers and toddlers to the joys of nature through age appropriate stories, crafts, and outdoor scavenger hunts.

    CHEC's 4th grade public school program is designed to give students the opportunity to participate in hands-on, critical thinking activities through relevant field experience. This free field trip combines estuary pontoon boat tours with land-based explorations to teach children all about the interdependence of our local ecosystems. All lessons and educational materials are correlated with Florida’s education standards for science and were developed in collaboration with the Charlotte County School District and area educators.

    Wild Wednesdays present guests with a rare opportunity to enjoy their morning coffee while watching a nature based film with like-minded individuals. Following the film a round table discussion on the topic will occur under the direction of a trained master naturalist.

    Peace River boat tours take participants on a relaxing pontoon boat cruise where they will learn all about the Charlotte Harbor Estuary, the bodies of water that contribute to the estuarine system, our watershed, and the wildlife found in the area.

    Informative presentations are hosted regularly by local and state experts to increase environmental awareness. The focus is on educating the community regarding Florida’s natural systems, damages to those systems, and the steps we can take to protect them.

    Spring and summer eco-camps provide fun, hands-on environmental education opportunities to children ranging from 6-10 years of age. These camps are typically 5 days in duration and include tons of outdoor excursions, scientific experimentation, informative presentations, and craft activities all designed to promote environmental conservation and problem solving in areas our planet needs it most.

    The majority of these programs, and many others like them, are provided to the public free of charge through grant funding.

  • History:
  • In 1983, Charles E. Caniff, then president of the Peace River Audubon Society, envisioned a nature center in Charlotte County where children and adults could experience Florida, wild and untamed. This was a place where visitors would come to commune with nature, teachers would find invaluable resources, local organizations would oversee land preservation from an unbiased perspective, and research facilities would operate impartially.

    Through years of hard work and dedication, Charles Caniff finally convinced government officials that it was important to preserve our areas environmental history and to create environmentally-focused educational programs servicing the southwest Florida community. As the need for this type of facility became more obvious, state, county, and city officials began working with the private sector to preserve a piece of uncultivated land. Thus, a meeting was held between members of the Charlotte County government, the City of Punta Gorda, Charlotte County Public Schools, and the Peace River Audubon Society. As a result of this meeting the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (CHEC) was officially established with Mr. Al Cheatham serving as CHEC’s first Chief Operating Officer.

    The first program to be offered through CHEC was the 4th Grade Field Studies program, a free 2-day field trip opportunity offered to all Charlotte County 4th grade students and their teachers, focusing on the interdependence of Florida's unique ecosystems and biodiversity.

    Today, CHEC provides over 20 different educational programs (4 of which directly service the public school system), manages 8 environmentally sensitive lands, and provides a total of over 8 miles of hiking trails and other recreational opportunities to the community. It is our hope to continue expanding upon our environmental educational programming in the hopes of driving a sustainable change within the Charlotte County community and beyond into the wider world.

  • Year established:1987
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Executive / Trustee board size:19
  • Advisory board size:19
  • Staff size:6


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID:59-2853001

IRS Business Master File Information

  • EIN:592853001
  • Sort (Secondary) Name:
  • Care Of Name:
  • Organization Address:10941 BURNT STORE RD
  • Organization City:PUNTA GORDA
  • Organization State:FL
  • Organization Zip:33955-4702
  • Group Exemption Number:0000
  • Subsection Code:03
  • Classification Code(s):1
  • Subsection/Classification Desc.:Charitable Organization
  • Affiliation Code:3
  • Ruling Date:June, 1988
  • Deductibility Code:1
  • Foundation Code:15
  • Foundation Code Desc.:Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
  • Activity Code(s):379
  • Activity Code Desc.(s):Other conservation, environmental or beautification activities
  • Organization Code:1 (Corporation)
  • Exempt Org. Status Code:01 (Unconditional Exemption)
  • Tax Period:June, 2016
  • Filing Requirement Category:01 (990 (all other) or 990EZ return)
  • Accounting Period:June
  • NTEE Code:
  • Asset Amount:$770,204
  • Asset Code:5 ($500,000 - $999,999)
  • Income Amount:$473,732
  • Income Code:4 ($100,000 - $499,999)
  • 990 Revenue Amount:$441,797
  • Last Updated:2/22/2018 6:57:03 am

This information is directly from the IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File at Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. This information is not under the control of the Common Grant Application and is collected and compiled and can only be changed by the IRS.