Monday, NIPSCO announced the 2023 Environmental Action Grant recipients. The program provides support to 15 local nonprofit organizations in their efforts to restore the environment and provide stewardship and sustainability education across northern Indiana with funding from NIPSCO and the NiSource Charitable Foundation.
The Marshall County Park and Recreation Department was awarded $5,000 for invasive species control at The Trails at Mill Pond and in the Memorial Forest. This funding will help eradicate bush honeysuckle in both parks. The invasive species control effort will improve the park’s natural areas based on quality ecological data.
“We are excited to support these new projects that will enhance and restore our environment in new and unique ways,” said Rick Calinski, NIPSCO Director of Public Affairs and Economic Development. “Partnering with these organizations in their efforts to educate and conserve the environment is one way that we can improve our lives and our communities in northern Indiana.”
This year’s projects focus on animal preservation, habitat restoration, youth outdoor nature education and sustainability programming. Many of the selected projects and programs include a significant volunteer and community engagement component, encouraging community members to give back through environmental stewardship projects.
Other projects include:
• The Nature Conservancy in Indiana, Festival de la Monarca: A celebration educating the public about endangered Monarch butterflies and their migration patterns while celebrating the culture of their annual migration to Michoacan, Mexico.
• Art Barn School of Art, Inc., Monarch Maker Gardens/Educational Arts Programming: Art Barn continues to develop a Monarch butterfly habitat along with related educational art programs.
• LC Nature Park, Habitat Restoration Project, Allen County: The park strives to educate the public while restoring the park to its native landscape while protecting native flora and fauna for future generations. • Elkhart Environmental Center: EnviroFest strives to connect the community to the environment in a fun atmosphere to celebrate organizations and businesses that are helping to make a difference.
• The Wetlands Initiative, Volunteer Stewardship Events/Collaborative Habitat Restoration, West Branch of the Little Calumet River: Restoring native habitats in former industrial areas, while providing the surrounding communities with open space and recreational opportunities.
• Trees Indiana, Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom, Fort Wayne: Developing an innovative outdoor learning space designed to provide youth with year-round positive experiences that can help shape their lives. Page 2 of 3
• LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District, Kankakee River Days: Canoemobile is a floating classroom that brings students out on local waterways in 10- person canoes to learn about science, history, geography and culture.
• Limberlost and Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Sites, Invasive Species Cleanup: Removing harmful invasive species from author Gene Stratton-Porter’s cabin at Wildflower Woods in Rome City and Limberlost’s Loblolly Marshes in Geneva
• Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, Woodland Vernal Pond Dock: Restoring access to Merry Lea’s Vernal Pond, where students also assess the overall biodiversity associated with this wetland and learn about the critical role that vernal ponds play in nature.
• Anthony Wayne Area Council/Boy Scouts of America, Scout Camp Ecological Restoration Project: Creating educational opportunities for youth to learn how to increase biodiversity by identifying and removing invasive species from the restoration site and planting native plants and shrubs selected to best support for wildlife.
• Mongo Community Development Association, Mongo Town Park Pollinator Garden: The garden will serve as a screen between the park and a neighboring industrial area, as well as incorporating native species and pollinator-friendly plants.
• Highland Community Foundation, Erie Lackawanna Bike Trail Wetland Restoration: Restoring the land to native plants will help to absorb standing water, provide wildflower beauty, supply nectar and seeds to local pollinators, migrating birds and other wildlife.
• The Vine Learning Center, Prairie Restoration and Outdoor Classroom Engagement Areas, Steuben County: The outdoor spaces will encourage exploration with all of the senses, engage children’s minds in the wonder of nature around them and introduce the concept of land stewardship.
• Indiana University Kokomo, Sustainability Week: The event will provide locally sourced foods, speakers and education on crucial sustainability efforts to IU Kokomo students and the community.
In its eighth year, NIPSCO’s Environmental Grant has donated $499,000 to date, helping 124 projects come to fruition across northern Indiana. This year’s grants provide between $2,000 and $5,000 to each organization chosen, for a total of $60,000.
In addition to Environmental Action Grant funding, NIPSCO works to establish early successional pollinator habitat on rights of way, forges partnerships with community organizations for restoration efforts and supports the planting of thousands of trees in northern Indiana each year. NIPSCO has been recognized as a Tree Line USA utility by the Arbor Day Foundation.
To learn more about what NIPSCO is doing to support the environment, visit NIPSCO.com/Environment.