Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore education partner, Dunes Learning Center, is proud to be the recipient of a $2,500 Patagonia Environmental Grant to engage youth through field-based stewardship and learning in their communities.
Committed to grassroots environmental action, Patagonia gives back 1% of sales to community-based groups working to create positive change for the planet in their own backyards. Recognizing the importance of the dunes’ ecosystems as well as youth engagement, Patagonia Chicago chose to support the next generation of environmental leaders and problem solvers through exploration and stewardship.
“Support from Patagonia Chicago will provide students from urban communities with opportunities to learn from, and be inspired by, the natural world,” Dunes Learning Center Executive Director Geof Benson said. “These activities empower young citizens, promote civic engagement, and build environmental literacy. That impact is multiplied when students bring lessons back to their homes and neighborhoods, where local issues can be addressed at a grassroots level.”
Dunes Learning Center educators introduce more than 14,000 individuals to the unique ecosystems at the southern tip of Lake Michigan each year. Working in partnership with schools and local landholders throughout the Calumet Region, nearly 3,000 students will take part in Patagonia-supported “Dunes To You” programming at natural areas in their communities.
“Each trip they learn something new,” said one teacher. “They enjoy the stewardship projects and are always excited to return.”
Through their participation, students will positively impact more than 10 acres of land, performing nearly 4,000 hours of stewardship at 17 different natural sites. Projects range from removal of invasive species to collection of native seeds.
“Bonding with nature had to be the biggest take away,” reported an educator whose classroom made three visits to their “adopted” site during the previous school year. “My students learned to be not only keen observers, but also, active participants caring for their environment!”
To learn more about field-based environmental literacy opportunities at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, visit Dunes Learning Center’s website at duneslearningcenter.org.