New Viera Community Institute to promote community, preserve nature


Karla-Mae Goodman, Steve Johnson and Lauri Duda of The Viera Company unveiled the new nonprofit Viera Community Institute April 16 at Duran Golf Club’s Tradewinds restaurant.

The Viera Company at a reception April 16 at Duran Golf Club unveiled its new nonprofit Viera Community Institute.

“The Institute’s mission is to foster the health, harmony and well-being of the Viera community by facilitating educational, environmental, cultural and charitable activities and outreach programs within Viera and Brevard County,” Steve Johnson, president and COO of The Viera Company, told business and community leaders at the launch.

The Institute is the primary planner for two major community events, The Great American Celebration around the Fourth of July and Light Up Viera parade and festivities near Christmas. These signature events, built around two great annual holidays, bring neighbors and friends together to celebrate, said Lauri Duda, vice president of marketing for The Viera Company.

“We are pleased with the community events we’ve established over the past 25 years and hope to continue to build upon them,” Duda said. “Our goal now is to develop greater partnerships within the community to help us take on the additional aspect of environmental stewardship, assist local charitable organizations, and create positive community activities and traditions that can be passed on for generations to come.”

A major aspect is to steward the land for the enjoyment of future generations, said Duda, granddaughter of one of the three sons of A. Duda & Sons founder Andrew Duda. The sons bought the land on which Viera now sits for family recreation and cattle ranching in the 1940s.

“My family grew up playing and working on this land and we are committed to stewarding it for our future generations,” Duda said.

The Institute is committed to ensuring the protection of Viera’s conservation lands and educating Viera residents on how they can participate in reducing environmental impacts, said Karla-Mae Goodman, coordinator of the Institute. It will work in conjunction with the Viera Stewardship District and environmental organizations to assist Viera’s residents in understanding eco-friendly landscape and irrigation practices.

Goodman also runs the Viera Discovery Center, a showcase of all things Viera to attract new residents to the growing area.

With its more comprehensive scope, The Viera Community Institute replaces the Viera Future Foundation, which used to raise funds to host community events. 

“We really want to streamline and assist with coordinating activities when we can. We don’t need to host them all,” Goodman said. “For example, many families loved the annual Spring Bunny Hop with the huge Easter egg hunt that we did up until two years ago, but many churches and civic groups began to host large community events and we didn’t want to compete with them.”

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