Something New for the Oldest Nature Center in the Rio Grande Valley

The addition of a solar array is breathing new life and powering fresh energy into the oldest nature center in South Texas. Located in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley (Weslaco to be precise), the Valley Nature Center (VNC) is the latest recipient of a Green Mountain Energy Sun Club sustainability donation. The $30,000 donation from the Sun Club was used to install a solar array on the roof of the VNC visitor’s center, which also contributed to the building’s designation as a LEED-certified facility.

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Spanning across six acres, the VNC provides educational opportunities and fosters appreciation and understanding of the Lower Rio Grande Valley’s unique natural communities of flora and fauna. The Lower Rio Grande Valley is one of the top birding and butterfly destinations in the United States. The VNC, centered in the middle of the city, offers a natural oasis for butterflies, hummingbirds, tortoises, rabbits, lizards and several amphibian species. Guests can enjoy walking trails, cactus gardens, bird-feeding stations and more.

The Valley Nature Center has become more environmentally and financially sustainable by taking advantage of energy powered by the sun, an abundant resource in South Texas, where annual temperatures average 75 degrees. Enabling the VNC with renewable energy is in perfect alignment with the Sun Club’s mission of promoting sustainability efforts in nonprofits around the country.

“The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club strives to partner with organizations like the Valley Nature Center that focus on making a difference in their community,” said Mark Parsons, president of Green Mountain Energy Sun Club and general manager of Green Mountain Energy Company. “Valley Nature Center’s commitment to the environment extends far beyond protecting native plants and animals, and we’re proud to help support their mission of being the leader for environmental education in the Rio Grande Valley.”

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During a recognition reception on November 18, elected officials and community leaders thanked the Sun Club for its contribution to the VNC. City of Weslaco Mayor David Suarez joined Jason Sears, Sun Club executive director, for the official flip of the light switch on the new solar array. Community members were able to see the new solar array when the VNC opened its doors free to the public on November 19.

This donation was made possible thanks to the generosity of Green Mountain Energy Sun Club members. Since its founding in 2002, the Sun Club program has donated more than $4 million to sustainable programs focusing on renewable energy, energy efficiency and resource conservation in numerous Texas communities and markets in the Northeast.

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Nonprofit organizations interested in applying for a sustainability grant from the Sun Club can find donation applications online and can apply for projects under any of the program’s new pillars:

  • Renewables – solar, other renewable technologies
  • Environment – water conservation, air quality, waste reduction, sustainable agriculture
  • Community – energy efficiency upgrades, green commuting initiatives, public space enhancements
  • Education – environmental stewardship, promotion of careers in sustainability

Thank you to all of the Sun Club supporters for believing in the mission and for helping make donations possible, like this one at the Valley Nature Center. Click here to make a one-time, tax-deductible donation to the Sun Club or visit www.gmsunclub.com to learn more.