We are Moody Gardens’ best friends. We are BFFs. The Friends of Moody Gardens, a volunteer organization of more than 150 members, started 33 years ago with a mission to provide educational opportunities to Galveston’s children and seniors. It has been a successful mission.

The Friends raises money to pay for these activities, including its biggest fundraiser — the annual Herb Fair and Luncheon, which for the seventh year will be held March 6 at the Visitor’s Center at Moody Gardens. The Herb Fair is a free event and open to the public, with lectures, demonstrations and vendors selling herb-related goods and other crafts. The noon luncheon this year features Concetta Maceo-Sims, who will discuss her favorite spice: garlic; and does require a reservation for a seat. Also, a hands-on demonstration/workshop is scheduled to teach participants about hypertufa, a method of creating rustic-looking garden pots using cement, peat moss and perlite. Check our Facebook page for more information (www.facebook.com/TheFriendsofMoodyGardens).

Last year, the Friends provided for more than 700 third- and fifth-graders in Galveston for an educational outing at Moody Gardens to see and learn about the rainforests, the oceans and bays, and the environment. The group sponsored the field trips and provided for the lectures from the education staff.

Field trips are also extended to seniors in Galveston to come and visit the facility.

The nonprofit destination uses nature to educate and excite visitors about conservation and wildlife. Moody Gardens features three main pyramid attractions: the Aquarium Pyramid, which is one of the largest in the region and holds many species of fish and other marine animals; the Rainforest Pyramid, which contains tropical plants, animals, birds, butterflies, reptiles, and a variety of other rainforest animals including free-roaming monkeys and two-toed sloths; and the Discovery Pyramid, which focuses on science-oriented exhibits and activities.

In addition, Moody Gardens has been able to take its programs on the road, reaching hundreds of other people in the county with lectures at libraries, assisted living facilities, hospitals and schools, focusing on the importance of rainforests, oceans and their inhabitants. The Outreach Program also visits pre-K centers, teaching the very young the importance of respecting the environment. More than 1,000 people attended these lectures last year, and the goal is to increase that number by expanding visits to off-island locations in the county.

Besides these events, the Friends also assist in the huge Mardi Gras Ball for Special People, which attracts more than 1,500 costumed revelers and their caretakers annually. And each month, volunteers are on hand to work with the Alzheimer’s Association program, “Growing Together,” which gives patients and their caregivers an opportunity for a day out and a fun activity at Moody Gardens.

Additionally, the Friends assist in Moody Gardens events such as Ghostly Gardens, Art in the Garden for children with special needs, and celebrating Earth Day by discussing conservation with family-oriented activities.

We are their best friends, but there’s always room in our group for more buddies.

Judy Anderson is president of the Friends of Moody Gardens.

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