victoria dunes newsletter
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OutcomesA newsletter for Dunes leArning Center Donors, volunteers AnD supporters
Your Donation: Nurturing the Next Generation of Environmental Stewards in the Dunes
Thanks to your support, naturalist interns
travel to Dunes learning Center from
around the world to teach young people
about the unique ecology of the dunes.
During their stay, they develop life-long
connections to the region. indiana state
Department of Agriculture resource
specialist, sarah wolf, is a case in point.
A native of Crawfordsville, IN, sarah
received a Bachelors degree in natural
resources and environmental science
from purdue in December of 2006 and
a Master of science in Agronomy in
2010. After receiving naturalist training
at turkey run and shades state parks,
sarah says she was looking for more
environmental education experience,
she spent a summer and school year at
DlC, introducing kids to nature and the
Dunes. i just love this part of the state,
it feels like home for me, says sarah,
its just a very special place to share
Returning naturalist, Belinda Merkelis
agrees. Belinda first visited Dunes
learning Center as a student in 1999. she
says that the night hike was what really
made her enjoy being outside.
everyone walks away from that
experience feeling like they are the
coolest person in the universe.
Belinda echoes the sentiments of many
who visit here, the dunes are significant
to me and something that i treasure.
Engaging thE nExt gEnEration through EnvironmEntal Education is at thE hEart of dunEs lEarning cEntErs mission. With your help, our naturalist intern program brings emerging conservation leaders from around the world to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for nine months of practical training.
During their stay, interns live in provided housing within the national lakeshore while they develop their teaching skills and share their knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, the natural world.
While our Naturalist Internship program has had many success stories, further refinement is needed to attract the best and the brightest and keep our education programs vital. Your investment in this important program pays dividends that last a lifetime!
I felt like we were able to make a difference with kids from Gary. At first, they wouldnt want to sit on the ground. Then, after the all day hike, theyd be like, look at the scat, thats awesome! That was neat for me to see. I just thought it was amazing, that some of the kids had never seen stars!
2011/12 nAturAlist intern, Kellie Koerner joineD the DlC stAff in jAnuAry As our outreACh CoorDinAtor.
shes worKing on expAnDing Mighty ACorns AnD Developing A series of fAMily hiKes.
THANKS TO: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, ArcelorMittal, Chicago Wilderness, Indiana Arts Commission, Lakeshore Public Television, Lamar, Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, Times Media Company and WNIT Public Television. This activity made possible, in part, with support from the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
Get OutdoorsSaturday, June 8National Get Outdoors Day Open House & Picnic @ Dunes Learning Center.
Register online at duneslearningcenter.org
Partner ofIndiana Dunes National Lakeshore
I learned that poison ivy has three leaves on a stem, and can grow on the ground or on trees that Daddy Long-legs are not in the same family as spiders, and that frogs are much different than toads. I will remember finding and listening to insects and animals and playing games with my friends. eArth CAMper joCelyn CArpenter, 11 yeArs olD
You are invited to a night of celebration. Yes, there will be smores.
join Dunes learning Center for our
annual event celebrating excellence in
environmental education. Frog in the
Bog, A Dunes Affair will be held
at County line orchard in hobart, in
on july 26, 2013.
the festivities will start at 6:00 p.m.
(Ct) with music by Chicagos Sanctified
Grumblers. youll have plenty of time
to mix, mingle and shop the auction
offerings before hearing from this years
green Apple Awardee.
enjoy gourmet smores over an open
fire, provided by Bowlerman Confections,
camp games and stargazing on the
patio with Brad Bumgardner.
Early bird ticket pricing of $75 is
available through June 1. Purchase
online at duneslearningcenter.org/events
Dunes learning Center
700 howe rd.
Chesterton, in 46304
ouTCoMEs A newsletter for Dunes leArning Center Donors, volunteers AnD supporters
Thanks to you, tuition assistance benefitted 840 children last year.
Q: When did you visit Dunes Learning
A: I remember the exact date because my
teacher was listening to election results
on the radio: November 3rd 2004.
Had you heard of Dunes Learning Center
before you went with your class?
No, I never heard about it, but 6 1/2
years later my sister got a chance to go
toowith my mother as a chaperone.
What do you remember of the trip?
I remember so much! The scavenger hunt
on the beach, eating smores around the
campfire, the food waste challenge (we
won a bronze award) and the first time I
saw a deer up close.
Was there any one experience or person
that stands out in your memory?
All of the hiking and the different places
we went to. Instead of just hearing about
things, we got to actually see them! It
was very hands-on and more exciting
Had you done anything similar?
No. Nothing like this. Once you
experience it for yourself, Its something
you definitely remember.
Had you been to Indiana Dunes National
Lakeshore before your class visit?
No, I had never been to the dunes or the
Lake Michigan beach.
What did you like about school?
My favorite subject is math, but I just
love learning something new. As long as
I learn something new each day, I feel
like I accomplished something. I went to
school with a purpose, and thats to gain
Join us at County Line Orchard on Friday, July 26, when Bill Payonk will accept Dunes Learning Centers Green Apple Award for excellence in environmental education on behalf of Thea Bowman Leadership Academy. Purchase tickets online at www.duneslearningcenter.org/events
You + Dunes Learning Center: making a difference in childrens lives.thE bEnEfits of timE spEnt at dunEs lEarning cEntEr are as diverse as they are long-lasting: improved confidence, problem solving and critical thinking skills; better health; happier kids. With your help, Dunes Learning Center provides $30,000 in assistance each year. Unfortunately, the need continues to exceed available funds.
YOU play a critical role in making these experiences accessible and affordable to the children who need them most.
bill payonk bEgan bringing his class from garys thEa bowman lEadErship acadEmy to Dunes Learning Center 9 years ago. Each year, he struggles to get the funding necessary to provide his students with an experience that he feels is critical to their success. Victoria Hibbler was in Mr. Payonks 5th grade class when she participated in our 3-day/2-night Frog in the Bog program.
What were your greatest challenges?
4th grade year was a challenge for me
because it was my first year at Thea
Bowman, having transferred from a
public school. That year I got a C in
reading comprehension. It showed that
Thea Bowman actually challenges you. I
struggled, but turned it into a strength
with Mr Payonks help. He provided
myself and other students with extra
exercises. I turned my C into an A.
I heard you were the valedictorian?
Yes, I graduated from Thea Bowman
Leadership Academy as the Valedictorian
of the Class of 2012. Becoming
Valedictorian made my parents, my most
influential teacher Mr. Payonk, and family
and friends, very proud.
What are you doing today?
I am proud to be a freshman at Purdue
West Lafayette, working on my B.A. in
What are your hopes/dreams for the
Id like to follow in Mr. Payonks
footsteps. As a student who wants to
be a teacher, I look up to him as a role
model. Hes very caring, taking extra
time to help students and follow up with
us. I want to show students that I care.
I want them to look up to me, come to
me with problems and depend on me. I
want to be not just a good teacherbut
a great teacher.
Putting the dune into Duneland Schools.A partnership with the Flora Richardson
Foundation and Duneland schools
provided hundreds of 4th grade students
with a rare opportunity to live and learn
in the dunes during a 2-day program at
DlC, while 3rd graders participated in a
day-long winter ecology program. plans
are in the works for a stepped program
that will provide environmental learning
opportunities beginning in kindergarten.
26%Of children in Lake County Indiana
live in poverty and lack safe outdoor
spaces in which to play.
Mighty Acorns to expand into Lake County. The Mighty Acorns progra