Lilly Center Collaborates To Deliver Summer Lake Education Programs

Kid-size waders allow students to jump into learning feet first. Summer educational programs are possible thanks to generous supporters and partnerships with organizations like Presby Preschool. Photo Provided.

WINONA LAKE – Almost 800 students took a step closer to water literacy this summer thanks to coordinated programming between the Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams and its partners.

Thousands of students make a new connection with nature each school year by taking a field trip to the Lilly Center, according to a news release from the Lilly Center. Why outdoor education? The Nature Conservancy’s Nathan Herbert explained it this way: “There are so many reasons to get out in nature: for health, for inspiration, to connect with the land and to learn. Kids especially light up when given the chance to explore our natural areas.”

The Lilly Center’s K-12 programs preserve the lakes by inspiring students, but, without the structure of a classroom, summer education has some challenges.

The answer? “We wanted our summer programs to be as robust as our school year programs. But this requires collaboration,” explained Sarah Baier, the Lilly Center’s education programs specialist.

In addition to year-round partners like lake associations and watershed groups, partners like Warsaw Community Library, the Bowen Center and The Nature Conservancy collaborated with the Lilly Center on summer educational programs. This summer also included the 12th Lakes Festival, sponsored by the City of Warsaw.

Presby Preschool was one educational collaborator.

“It has been an honor and pleasure to host Presby Nature Classroom this summer,” said Courtney Brown, former Presby Preschool assistant director. “With help from many local foundations, including the Lilly Center, who also see the importance of the mission to get kids outside and give them the tools to take care of the earth and themselves, we were able to give 35 children multiple opportunities to develop a deep sense of self, of community and a beautiful and growing connection with nature.”

Looking ahead to the 2022-23 school year, the Lilly Center is excited to make over 7,000 student connections through field trips and programs like Lake in the Library. Students learn about the lifecycles and habitats of aquatic and semi-aquatic animals, why wetlands and aquifers are important, and how water changes land over time. Each lesson is carefully crafted to meet Indiana and Next Generation Science Standards, the release states.

The Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams at Grace College conducts research, provides resources, engages and educates residents, and collaborates with local organizations to make the lakes and streams of Kosciusko County clean, healthy, safe and beautiful. To date, the Lilly Center has conducted scientific research on over 30 streams and 40 lakes. The Lilly Center is driven to create a legacy of stewardship by equipping community members, visitors, and future generations with understanding and to enjoy the county’s natural beauty.

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