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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,

    teaching children.

    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

    with kids.

    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

    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

    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

    that way.

    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

    new knowledge.

    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

    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

    mathematics education.

    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