Natures Academy Inc
7322 Manatee Ave #292
Bradenton FL 34209
To enhance STEM literacy and foster environmental stewardship. We are dedicated to providing memorable outdoor experiences to students and citizen scientists, motivating their personal involvement in the enhancement of natural habitats, and advocating sustainable approaches to their use and enjoyment of our natural resources. 
CEO/Executive Director Dana Pounds
Board Chair Diane Erwin
Board Chair Affiliation School District
General Info
Organization DBA
Nature's Academy
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 2007
Awarded competitive grant from Community Foundation in the last 5 years? Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes May 2018
State Registration Yes Apr 2018
Financial Summary
Note: Revenue includes the value of in-kind contributions/donations
IRS Letter of Determination
IRS Letter of DeterminationView
Impact Statement
  • Since 2007, Nature’s Academy education programs have impacted over 55,000 participants, including visitors from 41 states and five countries.
  • Approximately 7,500 pounds of litter have been removed from Florida beaches through Nature’s Academy’s coastal cleanups.
  • Since 2009, Nature’s Academy has offered free field trip programs to 11,000 underserved students from local public schools.
  • 100% of public schools participating in our free Science Literacy Project have demonstrated measurable learning gains.
  • 81% of our public school students believe they can help improve the world around them because of their Nature’s Academy field trip experience,
  • Over 80% of teachers from participating public schools utilize our curriculum in their classrooms
  • Co-Launched GCOOS Citizen Science Database portal which was presented in the 2015 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; the 2015 the Domestic Policy Council citizen science forum, "Open Science and Innovation: Of the People, By the People, For the People"; and the 2016 White House Water Summit
  • Build organizational foundation to support year-round programs to provide experiential education for school aged youth, teachers, citizen scientists, and volunteers from our community.
  • Increase day and overnight program attendance, thereby educating a greater number of citizens on Florida ecology and the importance of natural resource stewardship.
  • Garner funding and support to continuously advance the Science Literacy Project reach and eventually establish a consistent and free field trip program for all local public schools.
  • Expand litter cleanup efforts throughout coastal communities to address stormwater pollution and marine debris prevention.
  • Expand teacher and student access to citizen science data as well as relevant issues and research across the Gulf of Mexico.
Needs Statement
Since 2009, Nature's Academy has provided free field trip programs to fifth graders at local public schools.  We need consistent annual funding to support 3300 students in the Greater Tampa Bay area.
1.  Adopt-a-School Sponsors
$1000 sponsors a class from a local school for one year (Need = 150 class sponsorships to serve the Greater Tampa Bay Area).
2.  Tools of Change: Reusable Water Bottles
$5 funds a reusable water bottle for each student (Need = 3300 bottles per year).
3.  Field Trip Equipment
$2950 funds a MimioVote Assessment system for pre- and post-program evaluations.  Each system supports 32 students (Need = 2 systems).
$3510 funds a Labquest2 quality instrument with multiple probes for water quality testing (Need = 2 instruments).
$90 funds a Twist flexible digital microscope (Need = 75 microscopes). 
$105 funds a Kindle Fire for Kids tablet with carrying case and screen protector (Need = 75 tablets).
4.  Capacity Building
$60k to hire Operations Mgr (salary + benefits)
Background Statement
Prior to founding Nature’s Academy, Dana Pounds, a marine biologist, was diagnosed with a rare cancer affecting her right leg. After battling the disease for ten years, Dana had her leg amputated to save her life. Through her struggles, Dana further realized her purpose and the value of delivering lasting educational impressions to her community and future generations. As a result, Nature’s Academy was launched in 2007.
As a nonprofit company, Nature’s Academy aims to enhance science literacy and foster environmental stewardship. Carrying this mission forward involves a three-pronged approach: science education, stewardship, and inspiration.
By linking abstract scientific concepts to hands-on activities including a diagnostic water quality investigation, wildlife sampling, and waterway observations, Nature’s Academy promotes STEM aptitude and addresses the science education crisis in Florida.
By providing a direct connection to nature through hands-on activities such as a mangrove ecology walk and seagrass biodiversity study, and educating students about environmental challenges such as pollution and invasive species, Nature's Academy encourages students to understand and care about conservation.
Finally, by participating in action items including a coastal cleanup, citizen science data collection, and conservation project creation, students are inspired and empowered to become local environmental stewards and to leverage science toward positive change in society.
Drawing upon decades of experience in providing experiential education, Nature’s Academy staff have designed program that address relevant issues and deliver lessons across disciplines, including the natural sciences, social studies, and geography. We also drive students to hone skills in observation, teamwork, physical fitness, and other subject areas such as writing and mathematics. 
Over the years, Nature’s Academy has quickly expanded to reach an increasing number of citizens and provide these programs at a variety of sites, including barrier islands, forest communities, and an organic farm. To date, our programs have impacted over 55,000 students, teachers, and parents from 41 states and five countries.
Areas Served
Areas Served
FL- Hillsborough
FL- Manatee
FL- Sarasota
Areas Served Comments While we serve students throughout our local community and Florida, participants travel from across the United States and internationally to experience our programs. 
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Environment
Secondary Org Type Education
Tertiary Org Type Science & Technology
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President
Description To improve local science and environmental literacy, this project supplements classroom learning by delivering free hands-on, educational field trips to Florida fifth graders. Hosted at Coquina Beach (Anna Marie Island) or Fort De Soto Park, activities include a mangrove ecology nature walk, seagrass biodiversity study, and water quality investigation. The field trip ends with a coastal cleanup that fosters a sense of stewardship for the local watershed. Biodiversity, water quality, and coastal cleanup data are uploaded to an online, publicly accessible database. Students later use this citizen science data to create projects about an environmental issue or concept they learned about during their field trip and present their projects to peers, teachers and school staff. Consequently, participants serve as environmental stewards and ambassadors of their schools and community. 
Budget $155,200
Category Environment, General/Other Environmental Education
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years) Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent US
Short Term Success
The Science Literacy Project aims to improve overall science and environmental literacy throughout the community and beyond.  In 2017, our goal is to offer this program to 3,300 students from 36 local public schools at no cost to the families or schools.  
At least 75% of attending students will demonstrate learning gains in science.
At least 500 pounds of litter will be removed from local shorelines annually by project participants.
At least 95% of project participants will reveal positive attitudes toward the environment and exhibit feelings of accountability.
Long Term Success Prioritizing local Title I schools, the long-term goal of the Science Literacy Project is to implement a free inquiry-driven field trip program for all Florida public school fifth grade students. This project aims to establish consistent funding for all 34 Manatee County public elementary schools.  We aim to add two new schools from adjacent or nearby school districts each year, dependent upon funding and interest within the school districts.  In 2017, administrators from Pinellas County have nominated two of their schools to receive our free program.
Program Success Monitoring
Nature's Academy evaluates progress and measures success by: 
• Directly tracking the number of schools, student participants and adult volunteers;
• Facilitating pre/post-tests during field trips and analyzing test score results;
• Monitoring the community reach through social media and online analytics, as well as school rosters during conservation project “sharing days;”
• Recording and tracking biodiversity and water quality data collected during field trips;
• Logging and reporting the amount of litter collected during field trips;
• Surveying participants several months following field trips to assess environmental awareness and principles.
Program Success Examples
Since its inception in 2009, this project has impacted over 11,000 students from 34 public schools.
100% of our participating schools have demonstrated academic gains. 
80+% of teachers from participating public schools utilize our curriculum in their classrooms
7,500 pounds of litter were removed from local shorelines by participants.
Awards (2013-2017):
  • National Wetlands Award Semi-Finalist (Environmental Law Institute)
  • Florida Marine Science Educator of the Year
  • Daily Point of Light Honoree
  • Bay News 9 Everyday Hero
  • EPA Gulf Guardian Semi-Finalist for Youth Environmental Education
  • NOAA Marine Debris Prevention through Education & Outreach Partner
  • ePie Partner in Education (Manatee Chamber of Commerce)
  • Conservation Educator of the Year (Florida Wildlife Federation)
  • Marauder’s/Pirates All Star Among Us
  • Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero
  • Keep Pinellas Beautiful Leaders in the Community Volunteer of the Year
  • Keep Manatee Beautiful Outstanding Volunteers
  • Dana Pounds Day designated in Manatee County, FL

Nature’s Academy field trips and coastal clean up activities take place outdoors in the typically hot Florida weather. Our students learn that reducing waste, as well as reusing and recycling materials, are necessary measures toward pollution prevention. Plastic water bottles and plastic bags are particular targets for waste reduction and resource conservation. We teach a cultural shift away from the “use and toss” mentality by providing our students with reusable water bottles. Often coming from homes of limited means, our students are not equipped with their own reusable water bottles during their field trip. We supply reusable water bottles so students can remain hydrated during our active outdoor programs, take home a souvenir reminder of their experience, and repeat the lessons learned about conserving resources long after they leave our program. Other Tools of Change include gloves, buckets, and trash bags used to collect litter along local shorelines and reusable shopping bags.

Budget $20,000
Category Environment, General/Other Environmental Education
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent US
Short Term Success
Each year, our participants receive reusable water bottles, thereby eliminating at at least 2,000 disposable, plastic bottles just during our programs.   Additional disposable water bottles are eliminated each time the reusable bottles are refilled after our programs.
Metrics of Success from our 2015-2016 post-program student surveys include the following:
  • 89% believe the health of the local natural habitats is extremely important to their community.
  • 85% have begun to litter less and pick up trash more.  
  • 81% feel that they can be a part of improving the world around them
Long Term Success
The Tools of Change Initiative aims to progressively eradicate bottled water use during field trips by initially supplying reusable water bottles to our participants. Each reusable bottle replaces at least two bottled waters, thus full implementation of this project will eliminate over 32,000 disposable, plastic bottles annually.
The long-term success of this project connects to reducing waste, conserving resources, and decreasing the potential for plastics to enter our estuaries and oceans.
Program Success Monitoring
We evaluate progress and measure success by: 
• Directly tracking the number of reusable water bottles delivered to student participants;
• Surveying participants several months following field trips to assess environmental awareness and principles and the number of people who have continued to use their Tool of Change.
Program Success Examples
During the Tools of Change Intitiative's pilot stage, 200 reusable water bottles were supplied to program participants during the spring of 2013. Every reusable water bottle replaces at least two disposable bottled waters, thus at least 400 plastic bottles were eliminated from the spring program waste stream.
Each year, we increase the number of reusable water bottles given to our students.  In 2016, we provided over 2,000 reusable water bottles.  We also introduced reusable tote bags to replace plastic and paper bags when shopping.  During the 2017/2018 school year, our goal is to provide 3,300 participants with one of these Tools of Change. 
CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director Dana Pounds
CEO Term Start Oct 2007
CEO/Executive Director Email
Experience Dana Pounds is a public speaker, runner, and award-winning educator. Born in New Jersey, Dana grew up immersed in nature at the coast and in the wilds of Vermont and Maine. She graduated high school from Choate Rosemary Hall, distinguished in the Young Science Scholars Program for her thesis on bioremediation, and graduated Cum Laude with a double major in Environmental Studies and Biology from Middlebury College in Vermont. She earned her Master’s degree in Marine Biology in 2005 from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. She completed field research in Australia, the Florida Keys and the Galapagos Islands.

In 2008, she married Jim Pounds and together they opened Nature’s Academy, an outdoor, experiential science school designed to enhance science literacy and foster environmental stewardship. Nature’s Academy is now nationally recognized as a leader in environmental education, having received 13 awards and accolades since 2013.  

A cancer survivor, amputee, and athlete, Dana also runs to raise funds and awareness for desmoid cancer and for Nature’s Academy. She serves on the Advisory Board for 50 Legs foundation, an organization that donates prosthetics to people who otherwise could not afford one. She is currently training for a marathon and working on a book based on her life’s experiences.
Former CEOs/Executive Directors
Senior Staff
Sarah Pecoraro Education Coordinator
Jim Pounds Deputy Director
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 4
Part Time Staff 1
Staff Retention Rate % 100
Professional Development Yes
Contractors 1
Volunteers 5
Management Reports to Board N/A
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation No
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Through partnerships with United Park Services and the Pinellas County Parks and Recreation Department, we have facilities that provide consistent and convenient bases from which to conduct our activities.  Our partnerships with the school districts allow us to collaborate with district officials, curriculum specialists, school administrators, and teachers to identify schools with students that have the most need (Title I status), whom we serve through our Science Literacy Project. Nature’s Academy sustains annual sponsors for schools through our Adopt-a-School Program that connects community entities and businesses, like United Park Services, with local schools through sponsorship opportunities.
 Nature's Academy collaborated with representatives from the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System program, Galveston Bay Foundation,  and the Florida Aquarium to develop and maintain the Gulf Citizen Science Portal ( The portal was included in the 2015 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Domestic Policy Council citizen science forum, "Open Science and Innovation: Of the People, By the People, For the People" and the 2016 White House Water Summit, as an example of a forward looking project that leverages citizen scientists.
Science and Environmental Council of Sarasota County2014
Keep America Beautiful Affiliates of Florida2011
Manatee Chamber of Commerce2010
External Assessments and Accreditations
Awards & Recognition
Gulf Guardian Award - IndividualEnvironmental Protection Agency2017
Lifetime Achievement AwardProject Green Schools2017
National Wetlands Award for Education and OutreachEnvironmental Law Institute2017
Marine Science Educator of the Year AwardFlorida Marine Science Educators Association (FMSEA)2016
Marine Debris Prevention through Education & Outreach PartnerNOAA2016
Everyday Hero AwardBay News 92016
Daily Point of Light AwardPoints of Light2016
Feature in Ranger Rick Magazine Citizen Science Issue (Summer 2016)Ranger Rick Magazine2016
Leaders in the Community Award for Adopt-A-Shore ProgramKeep Pinellas Beautiful2015
Feature in Guy Harvey Magazine Education Issue (Fall 2015)Guy Harvey Magazine2015
Bradenton Marauders "All Star Among Us" AwardPittsburgh Baseball Club2014
Conservation Educator of the Year AwardFlorida Wildlife Federation (FWF)2014
"District Wide Partner" Award in EducationManatee Chamber of Commerce - ePIE Program2014
Outstanding Volunteers Award for Adopt-A-Shore ProgramKeep Manatee Beautiful2014
Gulf Guardian AwardUnited States Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program2013
Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero AwardTampa Bay Lightning Foundation2013
"Dana Pounds Day" proclaimed for April 20thManatee County Board of Commissioners2013
Risk Management Provisions
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government No
Fundraising Plan Yes
Communication Plan No
Strategic Plan Yes
Strategic Plan Years 2
Strategic Plan Adopted Nov 2016
Management Succession Plan Yes
Continuity of Operations Plan Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Policies and Procedures Yes
Multi-Media Comments by Organization
Board Chair
Board Chair Diane Erwin
Company Affiliation School District
Board Term Feb 2015 to Oct 2099
Board Chair Email
Board Members
Board Members
Diane Erwin School District of Manatee County, Curriculum Specialist
Dr. Kristi Foster Coastal & Marine Ecology Consultants
Dana Pounds Founder and Executive Director of Nature's Academy
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Board Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 3
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Gender
Male 0
Female 3
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 99
Board Term Limits 99
Board Orientation No
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Board Meeting Attendance % 86
Board Self-Evaluation No
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Board Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 100
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Current Year Projections
Tax Year Start Month Jan
Tax Year Start Day 01
Tax Year Begins 2017
Tax Year End Month Dec
Tax Year End Day 31
Tax Year Ends 2017
Projected Revenue $500,000.00
Projected Expenses $485,000.00
Total Projected Revenue includes "in-kind" contributions/ donations No
Organization has Endowment No
Capital Campaign
Currently In a Capital Campaign No
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
Audit/Financial Documents
Financial Review
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$344,419$284,216$230,984
Administration Expense$48,576$52,753$44,917
Fundraising Expense$0$500$3,316
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.091.150.98
Program Expense/Total Expenses88%84%83%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%11%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$110,262$99,719$57,315
Current Assets$82,689$67,825$15,891
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$77,177
Current Liabilities$44,029$68,493$0
Total Net Assets$66,233$31,226($19,862)
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountScience Literacy Activities $346,588Science Literacy Activity $275,152Science Literacy Activities $239,505
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $49,673Contributions, gifts, grants $93,712Contributions, gifts, grants $31,341
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountGovernment Grants - Unspecified $28,700Government Grants - Unspecified $15,000Net Income From Sales of Inventory $1,743
CEO/Executive Director Compensation N/A
Tax Credits No
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities1.880.99--
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%135%
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Foundation
Financial information taken from IRS Form 990.  Individual contributions include foundation and corporate support.
Nonprofit Natures Academy Inc
Address 7322 Manatee Ave #292
Bradenton, FL 34209
Phone 941 538-6829