Woodcock will honor Wiltonian Brooks Garis at gala

On Saturday, May 31, the Woodcock Nature Center will throw its fifth annual Evening Under the Stars Gala to not only raise money, but also celebrate the world of nature.

“The point of the gala is to raise funds for our environmental education initiative ‘Healthy Kids for A Healthy Environment’,” said Woodcock Executive Director Henryk Teraszkiewicz.

Woodcock implemented its Healthy Kids for A Healthy Environment initiative to address the nationwide nature deficit disorder epidemic.

With a curriculum designed to help children develop a life-long appreciation and understanding of the environment, the initiative is centered around hands-on, experiential learning.

Two local residents will be honored at the 7-10 p.m. benefit in the nature center’s outdoor pavilion:

  • Wilton resident Brooks Garis, a recently retired Woodcock board member.
  • Ridgefield resident Betsy Thompson, owner of Cellar XV and Woodcock supporter.

The evening of libations, hors d’oeuvres and live music will feature catering by Bernard’s and Sarah’s Wine Bar, with cheeses from 109 Cheese, sweets by Heavenly Bites and wines by Ms. Thompson’s Cellar XV Wine Market.

“Unique to this year’s event will be a series of Woodcock experiences that will be auctioned off,” said Mr. Teraszkiewicz.

They include:

  • A private nature photography lesson with professional photographer Daryl Hawk.
  • A twilight canoe adventure and pavilion fireplace dinner.
  • A candlelit boardwalk al fresco dinner.
  • Minecraft video game adventure treasure hunt.
  • Geocache through the preserve.

Woodcock has also announced that this year’s gala will have an “animal catwalk,” where guests can meet some of the nature center’s resident animals.

Wilton honoree

For two decades, Mr. Garis volunteered at Woodcock Nature Center.

“I was on the board for about 20 years, and in that time, Woodcock has evolved,” said Mr. Garis.

“We’ve certainly increased our participation in kids’ summer programs and we got a lot more involvement with adults in programs.”

Mr. Garis said he has seen Woodcock evolve into a more functional facility over the years.

“Where we were in 1994 versus where we are now is a world of difference,” he said.

“Sometimes, just showing over a long period of time, you don’t really think you’re having much of an impact, but it’s kind of that regular, continuing participation that does bring about results.”

Mr. Garis said he found out he would be honored at this year’s gala in mid-April.

“Henryk asked me if I would accept to be honored, and I said, ‘Yes, indeed,’” said Mr. Garis.

“I’ve been to past galas where we’ve honored some very distinguished people, and I’m surprised and delighted that I have been chosen.”

Mr. Garis said he would love for the gala to be “a spotlight on the nature center” that “shines brightly.”

“People should have full enjoyment and full appreciation of the role that the nature center fills in the community, in terms of naturalistic education and out reaching kids in the community,” Mr. Garis said.

“Nature is really where our imagination and creative inventions spring from. If we don’t have that exposure, we’re missing out on a resource.”

“We most look forward to having people come together to support the Woodcock Nature Center mission in a fun and exciting way,” said Mr. Teraszkiewicz.

Tickets to the gala are $60 per person and may be purchased at: woodcocknaturecenter.org.