The new facility features an entire area for education and outreach. Tables were set up at the opening to showcase some of its education programs.

NAVARRE—The long awaited opening of a new Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge became official Saturday.


Mitch Robbins, the refuge’s president and board chairman, cut the red ribbon to signal it was read for business.


“I always knew this was something we wanted to share with everybody,” Executive Director Stormy Andersen said.


The new facility features an entire area for education and outreach. Tables were set up at the opening to showcase some of its education programs.


On one tables were two replicas of marine life species. Volunteers asked visitors to guess the species.


The outreach and education building is open from 9a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.


“The education side is paramount,” Robbins said.


Navarre resident Elizabeth Dupont said she brought her two children to see the refuge because of the educational aspects.


She said she and her husband moved to Navarre because there was more respect for the environment and wildlife.


“So having this facility here is just a neat thing that ... we can bring the kids to, to teach them about wildlife, how to preserve wildlife,” Dupont said.


She also said as a teacher she was scoping the place out for possible field trips.


Although the education building is open, there is still work to do. Robbins said they will start work in January on a 100-foot-long flight cage for large raptors such as bald eagles, so the staff can rehabilitate them.