Community Environmental Council, Chumash tribe to be feted at May 19 brunch in Buellton

Staff Report

The Board of Directors and staff of the California Nature Art Museum ( proudly announce Community Environmental Council and Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians as the 2024 honorees for the 18th Wilderness Spirit Award Brunch.

This year’s event will be held in The Figueroa Ballroom at the Marriot Hotel in Buellton, on Sunday, May 19, from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. The morning will include can’t-miss auction items including a six-night stay in Oahu, Hawaii, a sunset cruise, an animal encounter at the Santa Barbara Zoo, a one-night Staycation in Santa Ynez, and much more. There will also be live artist demonstrations from Jeremy Harper, Clare Carey, and David & Nansi Gallup, who will share a sneak peek of their upcoming exhibit, “A Deeper Love: New Paintings Inspired by Coral Reefs” coming to the museum this Fall. The event will also include a wine pull, raffle, incredible food and drink, and of course, a unique chance to support the museum’s mission to inspire stewardship of nature through art and education.

This year, for the first time, there will be two honorees. Community Environmental Council (CEC) with the Wilderness Spirit Award, as well as the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians with the newly announced Sustainability Award.

The Board chose CEC this year in large part due to its success in creating and opening the HUB facility, as well as for their focus on tackling local climate change issues, training climate change activists, and its commitment to diversity and inclusion in its programming. The museum uses solar energy thanks to a CEC program which helped conservation-minded nonprofits convert to solar, which would not have been affordable otherwise.

Each year, the California Nature Art Museum presents the Wilderness Spirit Award to a person or group who strives to bring awareness to natural places through various platforms.

“We are so proud to present this year’s Wilderness Spirit Award to the Community Environmental Council. With the recent opening of their new Environmental HUB in downtown Santa Barbara, we felt it was the perfect time to honor their many efforts to offer a facility for like-minded groups and individuals to gather and collaborate,” said Stacey Otte-Demangate, Executive Director for California Nature Art Museum. “We admire their outstanding efforts to tackle local climate change concerns, help the region to be more sustainable, and raise awareness through impactful events such as the annual Earth Day Celebration.”

CEC opened the region’s first Environmental Hub, a 10,000-square-foot epicenter for climate action, in downtown Santa Barbara. Since opening in July 2023,

the Hub has hosted more than 5,000 community members at more than 120 educational lectures, workshops, and community-led events.

“More than 50 years ago, we answered an urgent call to protect and preserve the health and integrity of the Central Coast,” said Sigrid Wright, CEO of the CEC. “We strongly believe that by embracing fierce hope, taking collective action, and harnessing a proven blueprint that draws on the best of people and nature, we will ensure our region remains a treasure for future generations.”

This is the first year the museum also recognizes a second honoree with a new Sustainability Award. The museum board wanted to shine a light on the impressive efforts the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians does to minimize — or even eliminate in some instances — waste from their casino and hotel operations. In addition, they also support other tribal communities in their own efforts to operate more sustainably, and their new Cultural Center and Museum has achieved Silver LEED Certification.

“As the original stewards of this land, our tribe understands the importance of prioritizing sustainability measures andconserving resources at our local businesses,” said Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “It’s an honor to be recognized for our efforts to reduce our impact on the environment, and we greatly appreciate being the first recipient of the California Nature Art Museum’s Sustainability Award.”

Tickets are on sale now for California Nature Art Museum’s Wilderness Spirit Award Brunch, sponsored by Schiele Family Foundation, Allan Hancock College, and Louise Clarke and John Carbon along with other supporters. All proceeds from this event enable the museum to continue to provide unique art exhibits and educational programs for the community and visitors, free school tours and children’s activities, and future installations designed to inspire a love of nature and to encourage advocacy.

California Nature Art Museum is open Weekdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (except Tuesday and Wednesday) and Weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is supported by the generosity of its sponsors and members. For more information about California Nature Art Museum please visit