© Photos courtesy of Gulf Coast Center
Efforts are underway to raise environmental awareness and promote sustainable tourism on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

April 2020 marked both the 10th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. For many along the Gulf Coast, this was a time of reflection and a call to action. Launched in 2019, the Gulf Coast Center for Ecotourism & Sustainability has taken on the task of educating and inspiring a new generation of environmental stewards.

Nestled between the mouth of Mobile Bay and the Florida Panhandle is the beautiful beach community of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Seeing an opportunity to put the BP Oil Spill settlement money to good use, the City of Gulf Shores secured a $9.7 million RESTORE Act grant to build the Gulf Coast Center for Ecotourism & Sustainability, or “Eco Center.” Scheduled for completion in 2022, the Eco Center will offer various environmental classes, camps, trainings, and workshops for residents, visitors, and hospitality industry partners.

The Eco Center’s youth education curriculum is being developed in partnership with filmmaker and ocean advocate Jean-Michel Cousteau and his team at the Ocean Futures Society, making Gulf Shores, Alabama, the newest outpost for Cousteau’s global Ambassadors of the Environment program. With sister programs in Hawai’i, California, the Caribbean, the Maldives, Mexico, and beyond, the Ambassadors of the Environment uses science and discovery to inspire youth to envision a more sustainable future.

Whether by land or sea, each Ambassadors of the Environment experience fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation for the natural world while equipping participants with the hands-on tools needed to take on new environmental projects within their home communities.

New facilities, new partnerships, and new hope

The Gulf Coast Center for Ecotourism & Sustainability is on a mission to promote sustainable tourism, raise environmental awareness, and encourage the stewardship of our natural resources while enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors.

The City of Gulf Shores’ new Eco Center will be a regional hub for conservation, education, and recreation, featuring an organic gardening center, a wetland lab, an outdoor cooking pavilion, habitat restoration demonstrations, a bike hub, nature trails, and art center.

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment is now offering camps, classes, and excursions at Gulf State Park’s Learning Campus, the Gulf Coast’s newest educational basecamp. The Learning Campus boasts modern bunk-style lodging, farm-to-table dining, and state-of-the-art LEED design in a beautiful forest setting.

To learn more about the Gulf Coast Center for Ecotourism & Sustainability and Jean-Michel’s Gulf Coast Ambassadors of the Environment program, visit www.gulfcenter.org. To register for a program or to book a visit, email [email protected], or call 251.210.8721.

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The mission of the Gulf Coast Center for Ecotourism & Sustainability is to promote sustainable tourism, raise environmental awareness, and encourage the stewardship of natural resources in order to increase community resilience, strengthen the coastal economy, and enhance the quality of life of the residents and visitors of the Gulf Coast Region.

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