Moving Environmental Awareness to Action

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July 5, 2013 — Summertime weekends in northwest Indiana can take people to nature, with a shoreline, dunes, and state and national parks.

Appreciation for the environment seems to have broad public awareness beyond holiday weekends. The Region’s Shirley Heinz Land Trust protects about 1300 acres of natural habitat of Lake Michigan’s southern watershed and the Trust’s Executive Director Kris Krouse says public awareness of environmental priorities goes beyond talking points.

Question: Do you think there is a grassroots movement, and does it translate to action?

Kris Krouse: That’s a good question. Yeah, a lot of it happens at the non-profit level, getting volunteers engaged. I’m passionate about what I do at the Shirley Heinz Land Trust. Where grassroots effort really comes into play is in volunteer projects, involving people who go above and beyond, volunteering time, and go to work, go home, take kids to nature preserves or take the on a site or just walk a trail to see natural beauty and enjoy it.

Question: What is a Heinz priority that you wish was, or think should be, a priority for all of northwest Indiana?

Kris Krouse: Yeah, that’s another good question. I really think that, personally and professionally, I have two little kids—and 11-year-old and an eight-year-old—so I’m biased. I have a young family. My wife’s a teacher. I just think you can’t beat having kids advocate for nature. Their interest and enthusiasm is contagious. Our Mighty Acorns program and the Dunes Learning Center are among a list of efforts by many organizations that engage our next generation, who gets parents involved. That’s the way to do it. “That’s where we need to focus our attention for the long haul.”

Krouse and the Heinz Trust are offering an opportunity for kids and the community to engage nature this month. They’ll host a free hike with refreshments at the Trust’s new 74-acre home Saturday, July 20. The event occurs 10am to noon at Meadowbrook Conservation Center and Preserve (the former Meadowbrook Girl Scout camp) at 109 West 700 North, Valparaiso.


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