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 2017
State Registration Exempt Apr 2017
IRS Letter of Determination
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $498,885.00
Projected Expenses $492,513.00
Impact Statement
  • Since 2007, Nature’s Academy education programs have impacted over 40,000 participants, including visitors from 41 states and four countries.
  • Approximately 5,000 pounds of litter have been removed from Florida beaches through Nature’s Academy’s coastal cleanups.
  • Since 2009, Nature’s Academy has managed over $400,000 in grants and donations to support free field trip programs for public schools.
  • Over 75% of Science Literacy Project students, from 33 public schools, have demonstrated learning gains in ecology, chemistry, biology, hydrology and cultural history through program participation.
  • For the first year since inception, we have offered the Science Literacy Project district-wide to the entire Manatee County 5th grade, allowing us to serve approximately 2,600 Manatee County 5th grade students.
  • 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 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.
  • Implement a new Strategic Plan that will be adopted for the next two years.
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 3000 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 = 3000 bottles per year).
3.  Field Trip Equipment
$3170 funds a MimioVote Assessment system for pre- and post-program evaluations.  Each system supports 32 students (Need = 3 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 40,000 students, teachers, and parents from 41 states and four 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 to experience our programs annually. 
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Environment
Secondary Org Type Education
Tertiary Org Type
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 (Manatee County), 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 $122,375
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, with an average 75% of 2,600 attending students demonstrating learning gains.
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 33 Manatee County public elementary schools.
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 2009, this project has impacted over 7,000 students, indirectly reaching at least 100,000 community members.
Approximately 75% of students, on average, demonstrated academic gains.Approximately 5,000 pounds of litter were removed from local shorelines by participants.
  • 2015 Keep Pinellas Beautiful Leaders in the Community Volunteer of the Year Award
  • 2014 Keep Manatee Beautiful Outstanding Volunteers Award
  • 2014 ePie Partner in Education - Manatee Chamber of Commerce
  • 2014 Conservation Educator of the Year Award, from the Florida Wildlife Federation.
  • 2013 EPA Gulf Guardian Award: Third Place in Youth Environmental Education.
  • “Dana Pounds Day” proclaimed for April 20, 2013 by the Manatee County Board of Commissioners. Dana Pounds founded Nature’s Academy.
  • Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero Award, presented to Dana Pounds during the National Hockey League game on March 14, 2013.

“This was the best field trip our class took this year as well as last year. It was hands on, thought provoking, organized and fun for teachers, our parents and the students.” –Teacher
“The field trip was definitely better than any textbook science lesson about nature. There’s nothing like the real thing. I never thought that so many species of sea animals start out at estuaries this close to home.”-Student
Description Nature’s Academy field trips take place outdoors in the typically hot Florida weather, thus participants must be given plenty of water. Often coming from homes of limited means, our students are not equipped with their own reusable water bottle during the field trip. Currently, participants are given bottled water to ensure their safety and adequate hydration. To further green our educational programs, we must eventually eliminate bottled water and implement a sustainable alternative, such as reusable water bottles. Placing a sturdy reusable water bottle in each of our students’ hands bestows a tangible Tool of Change that communicates the notion of environmental stewardship. This take-home message keeps the BP oil spill present as students realize ways to deviate from petroleum-based materials and conserve resources. By reducing, reusing and recycling program materials, we practice what we teach our students and solidify our message of sustainability.
Budget $10,000
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
After each year, an additional 2,000 program participants have received reusable water bottles, thus eliminating at least 4,000 more disposable, plastic bottles. 
At least 95% of program participants display positive attitudes and awareness concerning the environment, and have communicated with at least ten other community members on why they drink out of reusable water bottles.
Long Term Success
The Tools of Change Project aims to progressively eradicate bottled water use during field trips by initially supplying reusable water bottles to our Title I programs and eventually to all participants by 2020. Reaching this goal involves a phased approach. Beginning in 2013, we will target funding for 2,000 bottles each year, gradually reaching 16,000 bottles per year by 2020. Each reusable bottle replaces at least two bottled waters, thus full implementation of this project will eliminate over 32,000 disposable, plastic bottles annually.
In 2008 alone, 2.5 million tons of plastic bottles and jars were thrown away in the United States (EPA). Plastic waste can be greatly reduced by replacing single-use bottled waters with reusable water bottles. Thus, the long-term success of this project connects to reducing waste, conserving resources and also lessening the event of plastic entering 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, determine the number of people taught using their Tool of Change and whether or not the reusable water bottles are still used.
Program Success Examples
During the Tools of Change Project’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. During the 2013/14 school year, an additional 200 water bottles were funded. For the 2014/15 school year, an additional 500 reusable water bottles have been funded by partners and corporate sponsors.
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. Dana has been recognized as a community hero by both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Bradenton Marauders.

In 2014, the Florida Wildlife Federation named her Conservation Educator of the Year.

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
Karen Clarke Administrative Assistant
Sarah Pecoraro Education Coordinator
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 2
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. Nature's Academy works closely with the NOAA Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System while developing and maintaining a new citizen science database. 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.
Science and Environmental Council of Sarasota County2014
Keep America Beautiful Affiliates of Florida2011
Manatee Chamber of Commerce2010
External Assessments and Accreditations
Awards & Recognition
Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero AwardTampa Bay Lightning Foundation2013
Gulf Guardian AwardUnited States Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program2013
"Dana Pounds Day" proclaimed for April 20, 2013Manatee County Board of Commissioners2013
Conservation Educator of the Year AwardFlorida Wildlife Federation (FWF)2014
Bradenton Marauders "All Star Among Us" AwardPittsburgh Baseball Club2014
"District Wide Partner" Award in EducationManatee Chamber of Commerce - ePIE Program2014
Outstanding Volunteers Award for Adopt-A-Shore ProgramKeep Manatee Beautiful2014
Leaders in the Community Award for Adopt-A-Shore ProgramKeep Pinellas Beautiful2015
Feature in Guy Harvey Magazine Education Issue (Fall 2015)Guy Harvey Magazine2015
Feature in Ranger Rick Magazine Citizen Science Issue (Summer 2016)Ranger Rick Magazine2016
Daily Point of Light AwardPoints of Light2016
Marine Science Educator of the Year AwardFlorida Marine Science Educators Association (FMSEA)2016
Risk Management Provisions
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government No
Fundraising Plan Yes
Communication Plan Yes
Strategic Plan Yes
Strategic Plan Years 2
Strategic Plan Adopted Nov 2016
Management Succession Plan No
Continuity of Operations Plan No
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 8
Board Meeting Attendance % 93
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
Fiscal Year Projections
Fiscal Year Begins 2016
Fiscal Year Ends 2016
Projected Revenue $498,885.00
Projected Expenses $492,513.00
Organization has Endowment No
Capital Campaign
In a Capital Campaign No
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Campaign Dates 0 to 0
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
Audit/Financial Documents
Historical Financial Review
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$284,216$230,984$237,082
Administration Expense$52,753$44,917$48,308
Fundraising Expense$500$3,316$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.150.980.98
Program Expense/Total Expenses84%83%83%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%11%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$99,719$57,315$33,094
Current Assets$67,825$15,891$18,960
Long-Term Liabilities$0$77,177$0
Current Liabilities$68,493$0$80,292
Total Net Assets$31,226($19,862)($47,198)
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201520142013
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountScience Literacy Activity $275,152Science Literacy Activities $239,505Science Literacy $206,260
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $93,712Contributions, gifts, grants $31,341Contributions, gifts, grants $51,396
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountGovernment Grants - Unspecified $15,000Net Income From Sales of Inventory $1,743Government Grants - Unspecified $19,300
CEO/Executive Director Compensation N/A
Tax Credits No
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities0.99--0.24
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%135%0%
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
Phone 941 538-6829