Behind the door of a construction trailer, sits nature-lover-turned-director, Natalie Payne, plotting trails and making plans. The doors of the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium are not yet open, but that doesn’t deter efforts to work from the outside in. The ultimate goal? To inspire appreciation and stewardship of the cultural heritage and ecological evolution of the vast Finger Lakes region. Work is well underway to convert the former Branchport Elementary School into a hub for nature-lovers, but preserving their 16-acre wetland adjacent to Sugar Creek, a Keuka Lake tributary, has been priority number one.

The Townsend-Grady Wildlife Preserve is a pristine ecosystem filled with a variety of mammals, birds and waterfowl species. The unique soft-shelled turtle has also chosen to call this beautiful wetland home. Currently, the preserve is only accessible by a few crude paths; finishing these pathways, adding boardwalks, building observation platforms, and installing interpretive signage allows residents and guests to experience its beauty responsibly, without disturbing the friendly inhabitants.

Due to the small size of the museum team, Causewave Community Partners was asked to help develop a crowdfunding campaign to raise $15,000 for these much needed additions. Fundraising efforts kicked off with an online appeal, inviting area residents and museum supporters to “Take a Walk on the Wet Side.” The project was also featured in the Democrat and Chronicle. A Keuka Lake resident mailer and a well-planned social media campaign also allowed for a broader reach, finding its way to an anonymous donor, whose contribution tipped the scales to exceed the fundraising goal.

“The last envelope I opened contained a $5,000 donation to the wetland campaign! Thank you so much for all of your efforts...it really paid off.” - Natalie Payne, Executive Director

Causewave is continuing its partnership with the museum through the development of a museum membership program. Central to this work are two powerhouse volunteers, Nancy Bloom and Alan Cohen, who are bringing their years of market research and strategic planning experience to create a strategy that takes advantage of the Museum’s current program offerings, and will evolve as more of its vision comes to life.