A White Paper Project on engaging youth in outdoor recreation and conservation won the Jean Northenor Award at Kosciusko Leadership Academy’s 35th graduation celebration Tuesday night, while a project on an ice rink in Warsaw won a Board of Trustees Award.
“Youth & the Outdoors United,” or YOU, received the Northenor Award, which comes with a $1,000 prize to help the team bring their project into fruition. On the team are Ryan Christner, Bryce Glock, Erich Hollis and Chris Koldyke.
According to the executive summary of the project, “The mission of Youth and the Outdoors United is for the benefit of the youth in Kosciusko County to engage and instill a passion for outdoor recreation and conservation. This will be accomplished by forming an alliance of like-minded outdoor organizations with the focus of providing ample opportunities for youth to discover and experience the outdoors as much as possible.”
Northenor, KLA advisor emeritus and co-founder, said she and the other two judges, Brad Bishop and Suzie Light, based their decision on the award winner on three main criteria: Is the project doable? Will the project have an impact on a wide spectrum of the county, and will its impact be fairly distributed? And can the project be sustained over time once KLA season is over and the award funds have been consumed?
“For those reasons, the judges made the following award. Now this is a $1,000 award that hopefully, while you’ve done the White Paper, hopefully this $1,000 will be able to kickstart your White Paper Project. It won’t be enough to do the whole thing, but hopefully it will be enough to start it and then you’ll have to go out and get the rest of it,” she said before announcing YOU as the winner.
She said the judges found the project to be doable; the team has already found the groups to be a part of the organization; no significant outlay of funds will be required; and it will take advantage of the county’s incredible natural environment.
“The breadth of the potential impact is excellent, with a program available to youth across the county,” Northenor said. “We believe it is sustainable. The work the team has done in identifying and enlisting partner organizations is excellent.”
Accepting the Trustee Award for “Ice Ice Baby II: Warsaw’s Winter Wonderland” was the team of Jeff Beeler, Julie Kline, Lili Dailey, Tiffany Kreider and Jennifer Stewart. The award comes with a $500 prize.
The executive summary for Ice Ice Baby II states the group wanted to tackle the issue of the lack of winter tourism in the county. It discovered that previous studies that were conducted in Warsaw showed a consistent interest from the community in having an outdoor ice rink. In looking at various locations, the downtown area of Warsaw appears to be the most suitable for this venue, with Central Park serving as the home of the ice rink, the summary states.
The team discovered that the most successful rinks with sustainable ice throughout the winter season are covered rinks with a cooling system under the ice. This can all but guarantee the rink to remain open throughout a winter season of warmer-than-normal temperatures in addition to winters with heavy snow and ice, the summary states.
According to the summary, “With the upcoming changes that will be happening with the downtown Warsaw area such as the Buffalo Street Project, the timing of constructing the ice rink in Central Park appears to be the right time if it is going to happen. City leaders agreed that they would like to pursue this concept at this time to see if it could be incorporated with the current plans of the revitalization of the downtown area.”
The city’s Parks Department will need to drive the project.
In presenting the Trustee Award last night, Northenor said, “They’ve done a refreshment of an earlier KLA White Paper Project regarding a potential ice skating rink. And that certainly coincides with what the mayor and his city council is doing right down Buffalo Street. There’s already considerable energy around this project as it seems to be happening at a time when the community is very anxious to advance quality of life projects.”
She said that while dreams don’t always come true, she hopes the ice skating rink does as the picture of what the team hopes to do is a beautiful one.
“It will impact residents and visitors throughout the year, not just in the winter. And there’s already some potential support for this,” Northenor said.
KLA Advisor Dr. Steve Grill then presented Hall of Fame awards to Bishop and Light. He said the KLA Executive Committee wanted to honor long-time Board of Director members Light and Bishop for their many years of helping to select the Northern Award winners.
Guest speaker this year was Dr. Nate Bosch, Center for Lakes & Streams director and Grace College associate professor of environmental science. He spoke on the various studies the Center has done or is working on, including a Lake Economic Impact Study which found the lakes bring in a conservative estimate of $313,383,000 to the county each year. If the lakes are improved, that could increase by about $10,519,000, but if the lakes decline the county could lose $84,153,000.
“The lake economic impact can not be taken for granted,” he said.
A report from the recipients of the 2015 Northenor Award also was given by Cheryl Shepherd, Jennifer Stouder and Tom Till. Team members Nicole Sherrill and Kristin Whitacre were unable to attend. Their project was GPS 2 Success, which was a career fair for students in high school and college during the day and adults at night. The career fair was held last year and again this year on April 14. The Chamber of Commerce is a partner in the project.
Grill ended the celebration by announcing the 2016-17 Executive Committee, which includes Jeff Fawcett as president; Joni Truex, vice president; Becky Anglin, treasurer; Ryan Christner, curriculum; Cameron Plew, selection; Jason Zaugg, public information; Shelly Fraley, events coordinator; Allyn Decker, moderator; and Nathan Conley, KLA advisor.
Conley replaces Grill as advisor. This year was Grill’s last year as advisor after serving in that position for 34 consecutive years.
KLA was founded in 1982 by Northenor, Matt Dalton and Doug Grant. Each year it conducts sessions that gives its cadets access to community leaders in various areas. It culminates with a White Paper Project by student teams who have researched relevant community issues and needs. The teams then propose workable solutions.
The KLA website can be found at www.kosciuskoleadership.org/