Taking care of ‘Our Common Ground’ – Dani’s Dreams coming to Sugar Creek Park

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Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center is joining forces with the Sugar Creek Township Park Board, New Palestine High School teacher Brittany Bennett and her AP Environmental Science class and Donna Rogler, Indiana DNR Project Learning Tree specialist, to develop a second education trail/activities for Southern Hancock students, teachers, families and community members, to be named, Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Trail at Sugar Creek Park.

NPHS AP environmental science (APES) students under the direction of Ms. Bennett will research, write and design signage as well as plan and lead activities for the trail. Ms. Rogler will provide curriculum, training and activities through Project Learning Tree.
Initial plans were announced Nov. 4 at the Dani’s Dreams Family Tree Day event at Sugar Creek Park (photo gallery above).

“The trail would have an overall theme of sustainability and should be a place the whole community can enjoy at any time to learn about the nature around them,” said Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center director Donna Griffin.

Dani’s Dreams has been working with New Palestine High’s APES students on the plan for the trail. Four stations are under development, focusing on:

Native trees/plants
Water/Hoosier Riverwatch.

Bennett and her students will be the leaders for the development and implementation of the trail, integrating their work into the APES curriculum and Dani’s Dreams mission to encourage and support teachers in use of creativity in the classroom, to foster an interest in science and discovery with projects designed to develop an appreciation, responsibility and concern for the natural world.

“Dani’s Dreams Nature Education Trail at Sugar Creek Township Park will build the next generation of committed invested citizens of New Palestine,” Griffin said. “This will empower the youth in this community to be leaders in their community and school and active participants in their education. The education value of this project is more than doubled with high school students teaching and mentoring elementary and middle school students and sharing their knowledge with the community.”

Community businesses, organizations, families and individuals who want to be involved in this innovative STEM education project, can contact Donna Griffin, dgriffins96@gmail.com or Brittany Bennett, brittanybennett@cscshc.org.

“Community-based environmental education can also support opportunities for intergenerational learning. With these kinds of approaches, community residents from young to old can learn from each other.” – National Environmental Education Foundation Environmental Literacy Report, 2015.



Join Dani’s Dreams for ‘Tree’-mendous fun today at Sugar Creek Park!

Take a nature walk, learn about trees and get creative – share the beauty of fall and the wonderful weather (while it lasts) today at Sugar Creek Park.

Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center invites all New Palestine families to Family Tree Day at Sugar Creek Park today, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 4-5:30 p.m. Join us for fun, outdoor education activities for all ages and be a part of the plans for “Our Common Ground.” Contact Donna Griffin at dgriffins96@gmail.com for more information. Stay tuned to http://www.danidreamsoutdooredcenter.com and the Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center Facebook Page for more details.



PHOTOSYNTHESIS: Carbon Dioxide + Water + Light —-> Sugar + Oxygen

Dani’s Dreams reporter Anna Caster, Zion Lutheran student, gives you the fun facts about our towering tree friends:
By Anna Caster
Trees are very beautiful! There are many kinds of trees, such as Norway Spruce, White Pine, Juniper, Tulip Poplar, Maple and Cherry. Trees are useful for many different things in many different ways, such as shade, protection and shelter for animals, paper and wood products, and many other things.
Trees breathe in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Humans are the exact opposite, we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Trees are helpful in making gum, picnic tables, cutting boards, doors, and trees help keep the soil on the ground from having erosion. Trees are wonderful plants that God made for the enjoyment of humans and animals.
Trees can do so many different things in so many different ways. I love trees and you should too!

See what Dani’s Dreams is growing at Sugar Creek Park!

family tree day at Sugar CreekAll New Palestine families are invited to Family Tree Day at Sugar Creek Park this Wednesday, 4-5:30 p.m. Join us for fun, outdoor education activities and be a part of the plans for “Our Common Ground.” Contact Donna Griffin at dgriffins96@gmail.com for more information. Stay tuned to http://www.danidreamsoutdooredcenter.com and the Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center Facebook Page for more details.

Come to NP McDonald’s Wed. Oct. 28, 5-8 p.m. for treats, not tricks!


This Wednesday is Dani’s Dreams Night at the New Palestine McDonald’s, 5-8 p.m. Join us for T-shirt giveaways at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 and test your nature knowledge with our newsmat! There will also be a special reading of “The Adventures of Ralph Sean Green”. Enjoy a fun, family dinner and help Dani’s Dreams plant the seeds of science and STEM education in Southern Hancock County. We need your support to make it happen!

Monarch Migration Update

Listen to a first-hand account of the upcoming Monarch Migration from a local girl, Estela, who lives in Angangueo, Mexico. Keep track by checking back on Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center’s website in the coming weeks!

More about Monarchs and their amazing migration…

By Christina Harkleroad, coordinator,

Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center

Drawing by Victoria Miano, second grade, Zion Lutheran School

With Monarch Migration reaching a peak, and the success of our recent Butterflies UPCLOSE event, this week in our Dani’s Dream Outdoor Education column, we will be exploring butterflies. How do they live? What do they eat? How are they born? All these questions and more will be answered.

Monarch butterflies are found all across America. Monarchs spend their winter months in Mexico, but during the summer, they fly to America and even Canada. They can fly thousands of miles to make it to their summer homes. Not sure what monarch butterflies look like? They have black and orange wings and usually have a wing span of 3 ½- 4 inches. Their bodies are black and they have 2 black antennas on their heads. Males have a large black spot on their hind wings and females do not. Monarchs normally eat flower nectar for food. Milkweed flowers, clovers, thistles, goldenrods, ironweed, and sunflowers are all popular foods for monarchs.


Drawing by Lillian Buist, second grade, Zion Lutheran School

Unfortunately, monarchs have a short life-span and live between 3-5 weeks on average. Because their lifespan is short, they must have multiple generations during the summer. By the end of the summer, the last generation must fly to Mexico for their over-wintering period. Monarchs flying north in the spring to the United States will find a mate. As they reach the U.S., the females will look for milkweed to lay their eggs. They eggs hatch after approximately 4 days and over a 2 week period, the caterpillars grow. Once they grow large enough, the caterpillars create a chrysalis or a cocoon and being the process of metamorphosis. The chrysalis is green with yellow spots and it provides protection for the caterpillar. After 2 more weeks, the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis. This process continues until it is time for the butterflies to fly back to Mexico.

Right now the Monarchs are just heading into Texas and a few are crossing the border into Mexico. Track this year’s migration on Monarch Watch.

For a fun story to read and learn more about the Monarch Life Cycle, click on “The Adventures of Ralph Sean Green” on our home page.

In the next column, we will be exploring ways other countries are becoming environmentally-friendly.

Second graders step up to learn, grow and share knowledge about Monarchs

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They flitted, they flew, and they soared – Monarchs and kids alike – at the Butterflies UPCLOSE event at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center at Zion Lutheran School. More than 100 kids, parents and butterflies celebrated the joy of nature and God’s creation, led by teacher Brenda Kreutz and her second graders who were the tour guides for the butterfly house. The 14 students spent the last six weeks learning about the life cycle of a Monarch by growing close to 30-40 caterpillars, observing and recording the process in reports they shared with those in attendance. They worked with Betty Bemis of Backyard Butterflies who provided the caterpillars and her expert advice. The New Palestine community joined forces to support this innovative STEM educational event for area children. Willing Hands Entertainment provided face painting, New Palestine High School environmental education students and teacher Brittany Bennett helped with Monarch tagging and event organization. Dani’s Dreams thanks all those who attended for making the day so special and being active participants in creating, exploring and discovering!

Get UPCLOSE with butterflies Wed. Sept. 16 at Dani’s Dreams!

butterflies up close poster

Get UpClose with Monarch Butterflies Wed. Sept. 16, 3:30-5 p.m. at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center!

Teacher Brenda Kreutz and the Zion second graders have been working hard, feeding and recording the growth process of close to 50 Monarch caterpillars! The second graders will be conducting tours of the new butterfly pavilion, demonstrating how to feed and hold a butterfly and passing out specially designed stickers.

Willing Hands Designs will be facepainting. Enjoy free treats and check out the debut of Dani’s Dreams newsmat! The event is free and open to all area families.
Donations will be accepted.

What is sustainability? Let’s Find Out…

Christina Harkleroad, center, begins her internship as coordinator at Dani's Dreams Outdoor Education Center. Director Donna Griffin receives a grant from Kara Harrison of the Hancock County Community Foundation for Dani's Dreams Internship Program.

Christina Harkleroad, center, begins her internship as coordinator at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center. Director Donna Griffin, left, receives a grant from Kara Harrison, right, of the Hancock County Community Foundation for Dani’s Dreams Internship Program.

Director’s note: Each week families will learn about the environment and discover new ways to change the world with a weekly column by Dani’s Dreams’ first intern, Christina Harkleroad, a senior at Indiana University, majoring in International Studies with a concentration in sustainability. Christina is also a Dani’s Dreams Scholarship winner, and graduate of Lutheran High School.
By Christina Harkleroad
Coordinator, Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center

Hello, my name is Christina Harkleroad and I am currently a senior at Indiana University.  I am majoring in International Studies with a minor in Environmental and Sustainability studies.  I enjoy my major because it shows me how interconnected our world is.  Understanding how the world works and how other countries deal with their issues is important in helping us understand our own problems.

Health and the environment are essential issues today and in the future.  Sustainability is a vital issue that needs to be focused on.  If we continue living the way we currently are, the world will be left with no resources. That is why Dani’s Dream is working to educate this generation and future generations about outdoor education.

Education about the environment is a hot topic currently and living more sustainably has become a way of life for many Americans. In this introductory column, at Dani’s Dreams we want to help you understand what sustainability is and offer a few ideas about how to start living more sustainably.
First, what is sustainability? According to the National Science Foundation, sustainability is defined as promoting a system that supports human well-being as well as sustaining environmental systems. To put that in kid-friendly terms, sustainability is living within our environmental limits so we do not harm the environment. Finding a way to live truly sustainably can be challenging. However, Dani’s Dreams’ mission is to change the world!
We can change the world by promoting sustainable actions among our friends and family. Little actions each day can make big differences. First, REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE. These ‘3 Rs’ will be your best friends when living sustainably.
1) REDUCE how much waste you leave behind. By reducing waste, we limit how much trash we put into landfills which can harm the environment. Composting is one way to help.
2) REUSE refers to the fact that many times we can reuse something instead of throwing it away. For example, using a reusable water bottle will help you reduce waste.
3) RECYCLING is the easiest way to help the environment. Many forms of trash can be recycled and used again in another product. Plastic can sit in a landfill for over 1,000 years, but can easily be recycled in seconds. Many Hancock County churches and schools have paper recycling drop offs that are also fundraisers. The Hancock County Solid Waste Management recycling guide has a list of locations.
Reduce, reuse, recycle is an easy way to live more sustainably, and the benefits of a healthier environment are worth the extra effort.
In next week’s article, we will be exploring butterflies. If you’re interested in learning more about butterflies, come to Dani’s Dreams for our Butterflies Up-Close event Sept. 16 from 3-5 p.m.

What a Wonderful World! Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run 2015

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The Southern Hancock Community showed up in force Aug. 1 to “Change the World!” at the eighth annual Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run at New Palestine High School. Nearly 150 walkers/runners of all ages took to the track/course, and more than $2,800 was raised to support Dani’s Dreams events.
Thanks to all those who attended and supported Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center, including our sponsors, Noll Landscape Group, Inc., Hillcrest Tree Farm – Randy Caster, Team Image Screenprint and Embroidery, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans – DeLane W. Sayler, Dr. Sharon Paluga – New Palestine Gentle Dentist, K&K Fence, McDonald’s of New Palestine, Greenfield Walmart, Mama Nita’s Pizza, Auto Air and Heating, Dr. Colleen Pool Family Dentistry, C.D.’s Music Factory, Rose Ivy, LLC; Hancock Family Physicians – New Palestine Family Medicine, Backyard Butterflies and Frady’s Lawn & Landscape; our race participant groups: NP Sole Sisters, the NPHS Girls Soccer Team, the NPHS Volleyball Team, members of Zion Lutheran Church and School and Dani Griffin’s family.
The 2015 winner of the Dani’s Dreams Walk/Run was Rick Sica with a time of 18:55. The women’s winner was Grace Voelz with a time of 22:00. T-shirt design contest winners were honored at a pre-race ceremony: Kate Taylor, first place; Katie McKinley, second place and Paige Taylor, third place. Benton Turner is the 2015 Dani Griffin Innovation in Education Scholarship Winner.
This is only the beginning of our year to “Change the World!” The Butterflies Up Close” project will begin soon and if your class/Scout Troop, etc. would like to be involved, email dgriffins96@gmail.com.

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