MDC Amphitheater Project Nearing Completion

MDC Amphitheater Project Nearing Completion

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by Lisa D. Mickey

The sod is down, the frame is up, and MDC’s new amphitheater is set for completion later this month.

The thought of adding one more piece of the plan to the center’s overall vision has executive director Chad Truxall optimistic about the future.

“There have been some delays and challenges, but we are moving along,” said Truxall. “Our scheduled completion date is Nov. 21, and we’re hoping we can get there.”

Installation of the amphitheater roof has been delayed while the project engineer and roof manufacturer sort out some issues with the correct roof specifications. Once the roof is installed on the frame, Truxall said the roof will be painted green and the supporting frame structure will be painted brown.

Rounded cement stairs leading up to the stage were recently poured with the first installments of the personalized legacy bricks planned for next week. The final touch around the staging area will include stucco with a coquina finish.

Sod will be installed adjacent to the stage once the staging area has been completed.

Sprinklers have been irrigating the common Bermuda sod in the audience seating area for the last few weeks. Truxall said the selected sod is a hardy grass that is soft and durable, yet won’t have to be irrigated.

The sidewalk leading into the amphitheater area will be lighted and there will be lighting on top of the stage, as well as a 20-foot-high pole light above the amphitheater seating.

“This has been something we’ve been planning for a long time and we’ve been into the construction phase of the project now for more than six months,” Truxall said. “Now, we are finalizing plans for the native landscaping to go around the facility, including using sea grapes, dune daisies, live oaks, cabbage palms, red cedar and numerous native species.”

Working with Doug Hunt of the Pawpaw Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, Truxall said plantings will be phased in, with additional trees and plantings on the property scheduled in a future installation.

“What’s exciting is the vision of what this entire property will become with a connectivity between the center and the restored salt marsh,” Truxall added.
“That was always the idea.”

MDC’s living shoreline area of the restored salt marsh has already become a welcoming spot for guests with purple-blooming muhly grass blowing in the breeze and picnic tables positioned above the living shoreline adjacent to the lagoon on the western side of the property.

Of course, once the amphitheater is completed, Truxall said the next consideration is how the facility will be used in an ongoing basis.

“We’ve talked about hosting a film series here with conservation-related films for the public followed by Q&A opportunities,” said Truxall. “We want to see how that blends with the current public lecture series and perhaps how the public lecture series can also utilize that facility.”

Truxall also hopes the amphitheater stage can be used as an outdoor classroom, as a central location for educational programming, for musical and live performances, and as center stage for MDC’s annual Lagoonacy festival.

Obvious partners to help bring the arts to MDC will be the neighboring Artists’ Workshop and the Atlantic Center for the Arts, added Truxall. The Hub on Canal Street and New Smyrna Beach’s Little Theater could also potentially partner with MDC to mesh the arts and sciences.

“I think the sky’s the limit in how we integrate this site with the arts, which is a unique part of our culture in this community,” said Truxall. “Maybe we’ll work with the Little Theater to host a play. We already have had some great ideas.”

MDC hopes to have a “soft opening” of the new amphitheater for the general public on Nov. 29, at which time Truxall hopes the film “Junk” will be shown prior to the annual ShORE symposium the next day at the Brannon Center. The keynote speaker for ShORE produced the film and would be present to meet the public that evening during the showing.

“As excited as I am about having the amphitheater, the future trails on the property and all the programming that will be possible, it’s most satisfying to realize the vision here is starting to come alive,” added Truxall. “The finished product is going to be truly exciting.”


Leave your mark on our new amphitheater…

Little Theatre Fundraiser for MDC

Little Theatre Fundraiser for MDC

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The Little Theatre is hosting a fundraiser for MDC this
Thursday, October 18 at 8:00 pm!

Come out and support our community theater AND our mission to protect and restore the Indian River Lagoon at the PREVIEW showing of the play I’ll Be Back Before Midnight.

Tickets for the show are $20 which includes a $10 donation to Marine Discovery Center. Tickets can be purchased at or at the Little Theatre Company Box Office.

Indian River Lagoon Health Update

Indian River Lagoon Health Update

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The Marine Resources Council (MRC) teams with the Marine Discovery Center to present the first ever IRL Health Update report, which examines 20 years of Indian River Lagoon water quality data.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Session 1 at 2:00 p.m.  |  Session 2 at 6:00 p.m.
Location: Marine Discovery Center, 520 Barracuda Blvd, NSB, 32169

  Admission is FREE. The event is open to the public. Attendees must register online.

Dr. Leesa Souto, Executive Director of the Marine Resources Council, will present on the key indicators and targets of lagoon health and how the water conditions have negatively changed over time. Each attendee will be given a copy of the report to use for education and advocacy for the well-being of the lagoon. Together we can bring the IRL back to health!

General IRL Health Update Info:
Local non-profit organization, the Marine Resources Council of East Florida (MRC) in collaboration with the U.S. EPA’s National Estuary Program & Applied Ecology Inc. to produce the first-ever comprehensive health analysis of the entire Indian River Lagoon (IRL) system.

It is common knowledge that the health of the lagoon is in peril. For the first time, we now have a baseline of health, backed by 20 years of available science provided by the governing water management districts, to guide future restoration efforts and policy moving forward to improve the water quality of the failing IRL system. This report is the first step in a comprehensive IRL restoration effort. How do you manage and restore a 156-mile lagoon that spans 42 cities and 5 counties, if you don’t have all the data in one location and easily accessible? Finally, the public can easily see the available information on the state of the lagoon portrayed in info-graphics and charts. The report divides the lagoon into 10 distinct regions from New Smyrna to Jupiter. Each lagoon region is graded based on 5 indicators of health on a scale from 0 to 100, 100 being the best score and 0 the worst. The development of this report has cultivated a communications coalition of lagoon community partners, working together to build consensus on the restoration of the estuary.

We hope you will join us at this educational event to see the results of the first IRL Health Update and get your very own copy of the report.  The more community involvement we have for the well-being of the lagoon, the louder our voice is. Together we can bring the lagoon back to health!

Price Goes Up July 16 In MDC’s Buy-A-Brick Campaign

Price Goes Up July 16 In MDC’s Buy-A-Brick Campaign

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The price of personalized bricks will go up on Monday, July 16, in the Marine Discovery Center’s Buy-A-Brick Campaign.

Construction of an amphitheater is currently underway on the campus of the non-profit organization — once occupied by the former New Smyrna Beach High School. Bricks may be personalized and purchased by the public that will be used in the first installation of the new amphitheater’s main staging area. Find out more about this and other ongoing projects here.

Purchase price for each brick is $45 each through Sunday, July 15, rising to $50 each on July 16. All bricks purchased by July 15 will be included in the initial installation for the stage and will be placed at the site later this fall in October.

The second group order of legacy bricks are scheduled for December 2018, with installation at the amphitheater set for March 2019.

Each brick order may include three lines of up to 20 characters and/or marine/nautical clip art with names and personal messages.

The personalized bricks are also an option for former New Smyrna Beach High School graduates — who attended school on the site from 1963 to 2006 — to commemorate their graduating class.

Brick order sheets for the campaign are available at the Marine Discovery Center, located at 520 Barracuda Boulevard in New Smyrna Beach or online.

For more information, contact the Marine Discovery Center at 386-428-4828.

MDC Hosts Homeschool Summer Camp

MDC Hosts Homeschool Summer Camp

UPDATE: This camp has been cancelled.
This year MDC expands its summer camp schedule with the addition of Estuary Explorers: August 13-17.  Planned for the week after Volusia County students go back to school, this camp is perfect for homeschoolers and others whose academic schedules allow for an extra week of fun and environmental education.

Students in the Estuary Explorers camp will have the opportunity to explore the most biodiverse estuary in North America, the Indian River Lagoon, and will learn all about the significance of this ecosystem. This camp will include island exploration, fishing, marine related arts and crafts, and science activities!  Students will also go on a field trip to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Marine Science Center.

This camp is geared for students ages 5-10, and the five-day experience costs $230. The camp hours are 8:30 – 3:00 p.m. each day.

To register call Diane McColl at 386.428.3310 or email [email protected]  Payment and camper registration form are needed in advance.  Maximum number of campers is 20.

Find out more about our 2018 Summer Camps

The State of Water in Volusia County

The State of Water in Volusia County

State of Water in Volusia County


June • 2018

When: Thursday, June 21 at 6:00 p.m.

Where: Marine Discovery Center, 520 Barracuda Blvd, NSB, 32169

Cost: FREE

The lecture is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are required.

“The State of Water in Volusia County” will be the topic of the Marine Discovery Center’s public lecture this Thursday evening. Clay Henderson, executive director of the Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience at Stetson University, will be the guest speaker.

Long engaged in Florida environmental policy, Henderson served on the 1998 Florida Constitution Revision Commission and sponsored most of the environmental provisions in Florida’s Constitution, including the creation of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

He previously served as senior counsel at Holland & Knight LLP, practicing in the public policy section in the field of environmental law. He also served as president of the Florida Audubon Society and was elected to two terms on the Volusia County Council.

Henderson co-authored the Florida Water and Land Legacy Initiative, a conservation-funding program ratified in 2014. He was also a leader in the development of Florida’s signature land acquisition programs and negotiated the acquisition of more than 300,000 acres of conservation lands.

Clay Henderson

A native of New Smyrna Beach, Henderson has received the national public service award from The Nature Conservancy, as well as the Bill Sadowski Memorial Award from the Environment and Land Use Section of the Florida Bar.

Stetson University’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, of which Henderson directs, utilizes faculty and student research to inform policy options for significant environmental issues.

MDC’s June lecture is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are required. Early arrival is recommended, as seating is limited.

For more information about the lecture, contact the Marine Discovery Center at 386-428-4828.