Indiana Dunes Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

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Canoes provide urban kids with an unforgettable experience

Canoemobile Lighthouse Charter SchoolChesterton, IN – East Chicago Lighthouse Charter School 6th grader, Brianna, had never been in a canoe before today. “It was amazing!” she said afterward. “It was more difficult to paddle and keep the boat steady than I thought it would be, but so much fun. I’d like to do it again.”

Thanks to a broad coalition of schools, nonprofits, local, state and federal agencies, Wilderness Inquiry’s Canoemobiles will provide hundreds of students with unforgettable experiences on their local waterways from the seat of a 24’ Voyageur canoe.

An extension of Wilderness Inquiry’s Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures (UWCA), their Canoemobiles travel across America to bring environmental literacy and dynamic outdoor learning experiences to urban youth.

“Our urban waterways are an important—and incredibly effective—teaching tool for kids,” says Geof Benson, Executive Director of Dunes Learning Center. “Whether they are exploring the science below the water’s surface, as with our Riverwatch activity, or touring local lakes and rivers in a 24’ canoe—the learning connections made through these experiences stay with them far longer than anything they might read in books.”

Local artist finds inspiration at Indiana Dunes

September 20, 2014 - Marta Hepler Drahos, Traverse City Record-Eagle

Local artist finds inspiration at Indiana DunesTRAVERSE CITY — Joan Richmond attended graduate school about 50 miles from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and often passed by the park on her way to Chicago.

Yet she never visited the park along the southern tip of Lake Michigan, until now.

Richmond, a watercolorist currently focusing on “gouache” or opaque watercolors, is spending two weeks as artist-in-residence at the park. The program offers professional artists the opportunity to live and work along the lakeshore in exchange for presenting a public program and donating a piece of art created during their stay.

“I didn’t know that this was here and how beautiful it is,” said the artist, one of six in residence at the park this year. “It’s just been an eye-opening experience. Now I want to tell the world.”
Richmond, 60, retired from Northwestern Michigan College in August after 10 years on its adjunct faculty. She exhibits her work at galleries in Glen Arbor, Traverse City and Harbor Springs and won third place in this summer’s Glen Arbor Art Association plein air “Paint Out.”

She often paints at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where she experiences the effects of light first-hand and translates her visual and emotional responses to the nature around her directly to paper or canvas. It’s the same way she works at Indiana Dunes, though the region is markedly different, she said.

“The dunes are smaller and more gentle and somehow Lake Michigan seems bigger,” she said, adding that she was struck by the “incredible” way the dunes reflect light. “That doesn’t make them less beautiful. They’re just more like whisper dunes than screaming dunes.”

“Century of Progress Homes Tour” Reservations Open September 8th


Online reservations for the popular Century of Progress Homes Tours at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore begin on September 8th at 8:00 a.m. (Central Daylight Time). This year, in addition to the Saturday October 18th tours, there is a whole weekend of activities at the historic homes October 17-19, 2014.

On Saturday, October 18, the National Park Service and nonprofit Dunes National Park Association host the annual “Century of Progress Homes Tour.” The required on-line reservation is $20 per person and includes a two-hour ranger-guided tour that starts at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center and includes a shuttle to the lakefront homes site. The tour explores the first floor of the Cypress Log, Florida Tropical, Armco-Ferro, and Wieboldt-Rostone houses and also includes a peek into the unrestored House of Tomorrow. These popular tours fill very quickly. Make your reservation at starting September 8th at 8:00 a.m. CDT.

Help Bring the Canoemobile Environmental Education Experience Back to Michigan City

CanoemobileFor the third year in a row, local partners have come together to host a visit from Wilderness Inquiry’s Canoemobile – a fleet of six 24-foot Voyageur canoes rolling into Michigan City on Sept. 15-20 to educate local youth while paddling Trail Creek. The Canoemobile delivers place-based education on urban rivers and waterways nationwide. In collaboration with the Trail Creek Watershed, local partner organizations including the Indiana DNR, LaPorte Co. Soil and Water Conservation District, Urban Waters, Izaak Walton League, Michigan City Sanitary District, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Dunes Learning Center, National Park Service, Michigan City Parks, and Northwest Indiana Paddling Association will bring together a wide array of educational opportunities as part of the weeklong effort. Activities will focus on water ecology, fishing, the river’s history, wildlife, water safety and paddling.

In order to ensure the success of 2014 programming and to continue the partnership in the future, local partners are encouraging community members to assist Wilderness Inquiry’s efforts by supporting the Michigan City Canoemobile program through the organization’s crowdfunding campaign at Funds are being raised until Sept. 12. “We are excited to return to beautiful Michigan City and continue to provide programming for the community. It has been a fantastic experience serving the youth and citizens of the area and we hope to do it for years to come,” said Chad Dayton, Director of Programs & Partner Relations at Wilderness Inquiry. According to Nicole Messacar, Education Coordinator with the LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District, “more than 1000 local students have had the opportunity to participate in this outstanding program, which this year is partially funded through a Michigan City Community Enrichment Corporation grant. We still need help to make this year a complete success.”

Military Kids Discover Resilience in Nature

August 17, 2014 - The Times

CHESTERTON | The last day of summer camp is always bittersweet—full of hugs and promises to stay in touch.

The moment was particularly poignant for the 70 kids attending Military Kids Dunes Discovery Camp at Dunes Learning Center — who have already experienced too many difficult goodbyes in their young lives. “One thing that surprised me about this camp was how many people were like me,” said one departing camper.

Organizers say that’s an important element of the camp.

“Being a military kid can be extraordinarily stressful,” said Ryan Wynkoop, special projects coordinator at Purdue Extension. “The week that these kids spend in the dunes provides them with memories and experiences that will last a lifetime, but most importantly they learn skills to help them navigate the deployment of a loved one.”

A partnership between Operation Military Kids and Dunes Learning Center, administered by Purdue Extension, Military Kids Dunes Discovery Camp is a six-day overnight camp just for children of military families. While at camp, children participate in activities that promote resilience and provide opportunities to share “good stuff.”