Sycamore Land Trust

Preserving land and connecting people to nature


Sycamore Land Trust

Sycamore Land Trust’s Native Plant Project receives financial support from the Duke Energy Foundation

Duke Energy employees pose with Sycamore staff during a grant presentation at Cedar Crest

Duke Energy employees pose with Sycamore staff during a grant presentation at Cedar Crest

October 4, 2016

Contact: Abby Perfetti, Communications Director
Sycamore Land Trust
PO Box 7801
Bloomington, IN 47407
(812) 336-5382 x101

Bloomington, Ind. – Sycamore Land Trust, the conservation nonprofit that protects land in southern Indiana, has received an important grant from the Duke Energy Foundation for Sycamore’s Environmental Education Program. The grant of $9,976 was presented at a ceremony at Sycamore’s headquarters in Bloomington on September 26.

Funding from the Duke Energy Foundation will enable Sycamore to expand its successful Native Plant Project, which brings lessons, hikes, and hands-on projects to students at several schools in Monroe and Brown counties.

“The environment is a focus priority for the Duke Energy Foundation,” said Bruce Calloway, Government and Community Relations Manager for Duke Energy. “This grant, in partnership with Sycamore Land Trust, provides environmental education while allowing the opportunity to leave a garden legacy at the schools that benefits all classrooms and can be utilized for years to come.”

Studies show that environmental education helps children build skills in critical-thinking, leadership, and observation. In Sycamore’s Native Plant Project, Environmental Education Director Shane Gibson works with teachers to create outdoor learning opportunities that also incorporate literature, writing, and math to integrate classroom curriculum with the outdoors. He will build on his greening of schools initiative by working with teachers and principals to determine how to best increase students’ contact with nature on school grounds.

Classroom lessons on native plants, animals, and biodiversity are combined with growing plants, honing scientific observation skills, and actively being in nature. In addition to lessons exploring the importance of biodiversity, pollinators, and native plants, the project aims to create areas on school properties that provide habitat, ongoing learning opportunities, and landscaping that will reduce the need for mowing. These outcomes will benefit children’s education as well as their physical and mental health.

The benefits of Sycamore’s Environmental Education program seen in comments from participants:

“Before this class this year, I was a person that only heard what I wanted to hear or what someone told me to listen to,” stated one area fifth-grader. “Now I hear a lot more, and when I do, I hear birds and such, I try to identify it. It was an amazing experience for me, the hiking, as well as observing all the small things and creatures that before, I would have missed. The potential of our nature experiences can help a lot, with all sorts of things, such as helping people be more aware of the world. This helps everyone.”

Dr. David Lawler of Bloomington recently said, “I was fascinated at how effective Shane Gibson was in immediately engaging a group of children from the Boys and Girls Club in the discovery of nature. He had them spellbound as he led them in a participatory process of discovering things that are so easily ‘hidden right under our noses.’ This outing was a delight, and ranged from the awes of seeing a magical rock grotto hidden within 100 yards of a heavily trafficked street to the delicious fragrance of blossoming milkweed. Not only does Sycamore Land Trust have a treasure in its protected land, but in his staff as well.”

Mike Love, a teacher at Rogers Elementary, wrote after concluding an Environmental Education program with Shane Gibson: “Children need to get dirty. Things aren’t filtered. We all know an educated society comes out ahead of a non-educated society. And experience in environmental education can be nothing but good. They will be able to draw on their tools and allow the learning to grow. We do a lot of teaching the factual things. But the experiential learning is what really sticks with them.”

“Sycamore is thrilled to receive the support of Duke Energy Foundation for our Environmental Education program,” said Ann Connors, Development Director for Sycamore Land Trust. “Their generosity allows us to reach more schools and impact the lives of so many students through the kind of learning that happens in the great outdoors.”

Founded in 1990, Sycamore Land Trust protects land and connects people to nature in 26 counties in southern Indiana. The organization protects more than 9,000 acres of forests, wetlands, native prairies, family farms and critical habitat for threatened and endangered species. Sycamore creates and manages free public preserves for hiking, bird watching, and general enjoyment of nature, and provides an award-winning environmental education program that connects people of all ages to southern Indiana’s natural world through guided hikes, field trips, and other hands-on activities.

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Check presentation at Sycamore headquarters with employees of Duke Energy and Sycamore Land Trust: Print-sized and Web-sized

Environmental Education: