Summer 2005 Forward to a Friend

Subaru owner Tom Finley shares his passion for the natural world every day. A lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Tom teaches more than 120 elementary outreach programs annually to children and families for the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (SANC) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“All too often kids are parked in front of the computer or TV, and they miss out on that natural education we took for granted as kids,” Tom said. “Some of our best family experiences were camping trips every summer to parks around our wonderful state. Unfortunately, many children simply don’t have that same opportunity or access to nature – either because they live in cities or the more pervasive issue of human encroachment on natural habitats.”

Tom helps children of all ages experience the magic of nature, often traveling to different schools throughout the city. Astronomy, insects, weather and Wisconsin’s state symbols are among his students’ favorite topics.

It’s no surprise that Tom and his wife, Amy, drive Subaru vehicles. “Not only is my Subaru fun to drive, I believe it leaves a lighter impact on the planet than so many other SUV-type vehicles currently available,” he said.

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center outreach director Tom Finley joins other Subaru-driving staff members.

“Our Impreza is 12 years old and still going strong with 190,000 miles on it,” Tom added. “Our Outback is safe and comfortable for the whole family, gets surprisingly good mileage and handles really well in the rough Wisconsin winters. And since my job requires me to be on the road, it’s nice to have a reliable car when I need it.”

Subaru Environmental Initiatives

The Subaru Environmental Conservation program touches every stage of a Subaru vehicle’s life, from development and design through production, utilization and, finally, the end of the vehicle’s life. For more details on SOA environmental initiatives, visit www.drivesubaru.com and check out the Fall 2004 issue of Drive.

As part of a sustainability class, Tom upholds Subaru of America, Inc. as an example of a company integrating environmental conservation into all aspects of its business and manufacturing.

“We live in a world where it seems more acceptable to criticize wrongs than to recognize positive action,” he said. “So when I came across Drive and realized the steps Subaru is taking to develop more earth-friendly vehicles, I immediately wanted to get the word out. Now, Drive is a regular part of my sustainability program curriculum.”

Building a Green Future

The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (SANC) is situated on 185 acres of unspoiled natural beauty along the shores of Lake Michigan. SANC was founded in 1971, utilizing land belonging to the Schlitz Foundation.

Bought in 1885 by the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, the center’s farmland was first used as a grazing area for the draft horses that hauled the brewery’s beer wagons. Later, it became a recreational area.

During early planning stages for the nonprofit center’s 30,000-square-foot learning center nearly five years ago, SANC’s board of directors made the decision to build the “greenest of the green” sustainable facility – one that does not deplete natural resources. That facility is named the Dorothy K. Vallier Environmental Learning Center, and it is one of the most sustainable and environmentally sensitive buildings in the country. It houses environmental programs and classes for all ages, including a nature preschool.

The award-winning building features recycled materials and systems that support energy efficiency, water conservation and sustainability. Some of the building’s green highlights:

•   A 10-kilowatt photovoltaic solar power system, which supplies a significant portion of the building’s electricity

•   Extensive use of natural light that reduces energy needed for lighting

•   Low-flow plumbing to reduce water usage

Each year, the Center educates more than 37,000 schoolchildren from the Milwaukee metropolitan area – more than half from urban schools. The building also serves as a teaching tool to promote sustainable building for the future. For more information about SANC, visit www.sanc.org.

The learning center at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is one of the most environmentally sustainable buildings in the nation.

Photos courtesy of Bob Bailie.