The COVID pandemic hit the Nature Discovery Center in Bellaire hard over the last year, with fears of community spread forcing the cancellation of some of the nonprofit’s seasonal fundraising events and causing others to go “virtual.”
So it’s no surprise that the center doubled down on its big annual gala this year, turning its 26th annual Twilight Gala Saturday into two Twilight “Picnics in the Park” — that being Russ Pitman Park, 7112 Newcastle Dr., home to the center.
A daytime “Family Outing,” will feature activities for youngsters, family nature walks, and child-friendly bites.
The Evening Soirée was a “picnic casual” event for adults only and will feature light bites, wines curated by Uplifiting Wines along with a wine pull, online auction, and live music with ABC-13’s Tom Koch of Bellaire as emcee.
This year’s honoree at the Twilight events was Mary Ann Beauchemin, who retired last summer after 32 years with the Nature Discovery Center — but who still serves as a volunteer.
A longtime Bellaire resident, she joined the center in 1988, in its formative period, and initiated the preschool program known as Nature Detectives. In more recent years, Beauchemin served as senior naturalist and park steward, leading bird walks and birding programs, as well as all adult field trips.
With a master’s of science degree in environmental education from Southern Oregon University, Beauchemin also worked at the Sunriver Nature Center in Oregon, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, the Austin Nature Center, and the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center.