Team ECCO was founded in 2001 as a grassroots program to teach students and adults in our region about the ocean. It received full nonprofit status in 2007, the first classroom was established in 2009 and, in 2011, the organization opened the first inland aquarium in North Carolina—on Main Street in Hendersonville.
“This center and aquarium is home to dozens of species of tropical ocean fish and invertebrates,” says founder and executive director Brenda Ramer. “We also house a reptile collection of frogs, lizards, geckoes, turtles and tortoises. Most all of these reptiles were accepted as ‘adoptions’ and are kept under strict guidelines and permits from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.”
Team ECCO’s interns and volunteers greet an average of 6,000 visitors each year, providing specialized programs and events for an average of more than 3,000 children and adults. Programs include fish identification, marine adaptations, water quality, turtle rescue, local reptile education and marine biodiversity. Custom field exploration trips to local and distant points of environmental interest focus on manatees, sea turtles, shark research, coral reef development and mangrove recovery.
“If it’s in WNC and has to do with the sea,” Ramer says, “it has to be Team ECCO.”
Learn more at teamecco.org.