The Dunes Learning Center works to get Northwest Indiana residents, particularly children, involved with experiencing and taking care of the local environment.
Northwest Indiana is home to the historic Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This park is protected on a national registry and is frequented by tourists from around the country. Despite all of this, not all region residents have visited the Dunes or know much about how they interact with their NWI environment.
Dunes Learning Center is working to reverse this trend by cooperating with local schools to provide children with outdoor education in the form of hands-on school programs and trips.
This past year, Dunes Learning Center received a Foundations of East Chicago (FEC) grant for their Comprehensive Environmental Education program. This program provided 625 East Chicago students with environmental education opportunities.
The Dunes Learning Center also helped to educate 14 East Chicago teachers on delivering the program’s curriculum to students and helped the schools fund transportation for study trips.
Another program that Dunes Learning Center has helped to implement in East Chicago this year is the Carrie Gosch Learning Garden at Carrie Gosch Elementary School. This garden involved 56 sixth grade students who participated in a program called Earth Force. This program emphasized the impact that people have on the natural world.
The garden was created and maintained by the students. It contained several elements that demonstrated different STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) subjects including a Monarch butterfly waystation, a compost bin, a rain barrel and a digital weather station. At the end of the season, the students harvested the vegetables they had grown and donated them to community members in need.
The Dunes Learning Center has contributed so much to the education of the children of East Chicago and has truly made a difference in our community. To learn about more great 2016 grantees, visit www.FoundationsEC.og.