Tag Archives: Hancock County Community Foundation

Local Scout makes dreams come true for Southern Hancock families

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Dani’s Dreams Innovation in Education Corp. is all about empowering young people to “Change the World”, and New Palestine High School sophomore Zachary Mitchell is making his commitment a reality.

Zachary grew up alongside Dani’s Dreams and now wants to give back by making a lasting impact for families in Hancock County.

“I grew up with Dani’s Dreams and I’ve heard the story of Dani all my life,” Zachary said. “I chose the outdoor lab as my Eagle Scout project because I saw the lab and wanted to help.”

A Hancock County Scout for nine years, Zachary Mitchell has an Eagle Scout project that will benefit Hancock County residents of all ages and bring families together to share the wonder of nature through his “Dreaming Tree Porch” project.

“I talked with Donna (Griffin, Dani’s Dreams president and CEO) and found out what she needed at Dani’s Dreams,” Zachary said. “I saw that the lab needed more work and outside displays, so I decided we could do benches, tables and a patio.”

Zachary has raised about $1,200 of the nearly $1,700 project, including a donation from the American Legion, and hopes to get about $500 from the community to be able to put in a paver porch, benches and display tables in front of the Go Green Center at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center at Zion Lutheran School in New Palestine.

Zachary has spent this year fundraising, including a Pancake Breakfast in June at Zion and hopes to begin construction of the “Dreaming Tree Porch” for Hancock County families later this fall.

“The project will includes a 12 x 25-foot paver patio, two benches and two plexiglass tables for displays of rocks, insects and other interesting information,” Zachary said.

To donate for Zachary’s Eagle Scout Project, email him at noblemit@msn.com or call 861-4915

“I’ve been a Scout ever since first grade,” Zachary said. “It’s been a long journey, but I wanted to stick with it and help the community.”

And his project will have a lasting impact on outdoor education and families throughout Hancock County.

“I’ve learned through this project how to be a strong leader, help others and to teach them how to use tools – tools for life,” Zachary said.

The Go Green Center, funded through a Hancock County Community Foundation Grant in 2012, serves K-8 students in Southern Hancock Schools with STEM and environmental education displays, activities and projects, including fully-functioning solar panels that power the building.

“The porch will be an area for student work/collections to be on display and for parents/grandparents and children to walk, rest and spend time together sharing and learning,” Griffin said.

Griffin added the new tables will allow Dani’s Dreams to bring out displays and hands-on items that would normally be locked inside the building.

“He’s inspired us already,” Griffin said. “We’ve repainted and are currently reorganizing our materials and activities as well as working with teachers to develop lessons to meet their curriculum needs.”

‘Spread Your Wings’ and join Dani’s Dreams’ Walk/Run Aug. 6!

danisdreams2016tshirtdesignJoin Dani’s Dreams as we “Spread Our Wings” with the 9th annual Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run Aug. 6, 8 a.m. at New Palestine High School.

Registration is only $25 for an individual and a family of 4 is only $50! Groups of 10 or more can register for only $10 each. With each registration, you also get the Coolest T-shirt on the Planet! See the design above.)

SIGN UP HERE TODAY! T-shirts are not guaranteed the day of the event

Proceeds will go to fund the development of the Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Trail at Sugar Creek Park and ECOFEST Lessons for Southern Hancock County students.

The walk/run is Dani’s Dreams major fundraiser and your registration or donation can give our children a chance to gain valuable reading, writing, science and technology skills and provide paid internships for high school and college students to be leaders in their communities. If you can’t come, you can still donate and receive a T-shirt!

Dani’s Dreams Innovation in Education Corp. is now a full-fledged 501c3 tax exempt organization with a mission to provide innovative, hands-on STEM and Literacy education activities for schools and organizations throughout Central Indiana.

Want to join our team as we “Change the World”? Contact President and CEO Donna Griffin at dgriffins96@gmail.com or 317-640-4430.




Here comes the sun! See solar in action at Dani’s Dreams!


The Go Green Discovery Center at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center at Zion Lutheran School is now solar-powered!

Classes, Scouts, Daycares, Preschools and other groups can visit the Go Green Center, learn more about how solar energy works with our Dani’s Dreams video report and create a solar craft!

Log onto https://www.eventbrite.com/e/danis-dreams-membership-ecofes… to support your school and be a part of Dani’s Dreams mission to “Change the World!”

With each membership, one Southern Hancock elementary school could win a $300 grant for the school, and every child gets a free specially designed T-shirt, wristband, certificate, special e-newsmat and loads of fun educational activities for only $25 a year! All proceeds go right back to Southern Hancock schools to support environmental education!


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.

Only a week left to ‘Change the World!’

danis dreams poster 2015Southern Hancock families can “Change the World” Aug. 1, 8 a.m. at New Palestine High School at the eighth annual Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run.

Register for the 5K or the 1-mile family walk/run and kids of all ages are encouraged to run and participate in the fun activities (bubbles and paper airplanes) and meet Ralph Sean Green, the coolest caterpillar/butterfly you’ve ever seen!

Each registration for the Aug. 1 Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run supports another innovative, exciting and education year at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center with lessons and special projects that give Southern Hancock children, grades K-8 unique science activities focusing on environmental education.

Register for this year’s Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run Aug. 1, 8 a.m. at New Palestine High School and help us grow Dani’s Dreams and “Change the World.” Even if individuals cannot attend the actual race event, they can still register and receive a T-shirt.

Everyone can register or donate online NOW click the link above!


Step up to the ‘Change the World’ Challenge – Support Dani’s Dreams

useDSC_0674We’re all looking to “change the world”…the funny thing is we don’t realize that every day our actions, big and small make a difference in our families’ lives, our schools, our jobs and our communities.

Kids are often told they are too young, that they must wait to “change the world.” But at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center kids are changing the world every day – by learning, by growing and by caring about God’s great creation.

Events like Dani’s Dreams Earth Day Challenge, “Dig It” day, “Remember Our Roots” tree day, Children’s Museum Nights, Weird Animals presentations at VBS, and Girl Scouts Badge Days are only possible through the generous donations of Southern Hancock families, businesses and community members who support innovative education activities for our children.

Next up, Dani’s Dreams will be developing the Butterfly Garden and adding a pavilion for the “Butterflies Up Close” project this August. Teachers and Scout Leaders who would like more information on how to be a part of the project (at no cost), email director Donna Griffin at dgriffins96@gmail.com or call 640-4430.

CLICK HERE to SIGN UP  to register for the eighth annual Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run, donate or become a business sponsor .

Even if you can’t be there Aug. 1 for the walk/run, you can still register or donate and get a one-of-a-kind T-shirt. Groups of 10 or more who sign up can get their name on the back of the race T-shirts.

Download registration forms for the Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run:




No Dream Too Big in 2013 at Dani’s Dreams

“No dream is too big, no dreamer too small,” says the movie, “Turbo.” At Dani’ Dreams, a lot of little hands plant the seeds of big dreams through innovative activities and events each year at Hancock County’s only outdoor education center.

Teachers, Scout Leaders, and other community groups, contact Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center to schedule your specially designed educational opportunity. We’ll tailor your experience to your needs at NO CHARGE. Contact Donna Griffin, director, at dgriffins@netzero.com or 317-640-4430.

 Check out the first five of the Top 10 Dani’s Dreams memorable moments in 2013 (in chronological order):

1. April 12 Earth Day Dedication Event

useDSC_0847The highlight of Dani’s Dreams Earth Day Event was a special presentation by Mrs. Deb Weiler’s fourth grade students at Sugar Creek Elementary in New Palestine. They are partnering with Dani’s Dreams on a composting project and are the perfect example of how young people can truly “Dream It – Do It” and share that knowledge with others. Thanks so much Mrs. Weiler and her smart and caring students – Sarah Adam, Sierra Patrick, Madison Schmitt, Mia Thomas, and Laney Scott.

2. Opening of Go Green Center

useDSC_0836Dani’s Dreams is all about growing, discovering, becoming – little seeds are planted, take root and reach toward the sky. The Go Green Discovery Center opened April 12, 2013, is in the seedling stage, changing and morphing to meet the needs of Hancock County schoolchildren. Now it is the site of meaningful, environmental activities, crafts and demonstrations for all students in Hancock County. Watch it Grow!

3. Dream It – Do It! T-shirt Design and Essay Contest Winners Chosen

First Place - Ali Kinder
First Place – Ali Kinder

Hancock County students put their talents and creativity on display for the annual Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center T-shirt design and essay contest for 2013. Ali Kinder, a student at Zion Lutheran School is the winner of the T-shirt design contest. Kinder’s design was featured on T-shirts for the event. Second place went to Katie Taylor, a fifth grader at Zion Lutheran School and third place winner was Rylee Morris, sixth grader at Zion Lutheran School. The students’ interpretations of the “Dream It – Do It!” theme brought color and life to race T-shirts and even jump started a new organization that brought peace, comfort and hope to others – Emma Mann’s Peace Bear Project. Emma is the 2013 Essay Contest winner. Brock Turner, 2013 Lutheran High School graduate received the Dani Griffin Innovation in Education Memorial Scholarship.

4.  Northern Night Concert kicks off Sixth Annual Dani’s Dreams Walk/Run

DSC_0171Up-and-coming band, Northern Nights set the stage Aug. 2 with a benefit concert at Zion Lutheran School. The next morning, more than 100 runners/walkers braved a damp summer morning to race/exercise on the cross country course and stadium track at New Palestine High School to raise funds for environmental education in Hancock County.

5. Dani’s Dreams Club Activities

useDSC_0154Dani’s Dreams Club took root in 2013, as members filmed an informational video and environmental reports, planted and tended vegetables and flowers in the Community Garden and went on a bug expedition. Join Dani’s Dreams Club when it expands this year to include an online component as well as the popular after school events and activities. Be a part of our reporting team, which will be covering environmental issues in videos to be aired in the Go Green Center and also creating an online newsletter.

Check out the next post for the other five Top Memorable Moments at Dani’s Dreams in 2013!

Farmer Fun at Dani’s Dreams

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With fall and harvest approaching, nearly 40 children of all ages descended on Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center Sept. 19 to “Celebrate Our Farmers.” Local farmer Brian Kleiman talked about the technology and science of farming and answered questions from the students. The competition began soon after and teams took off on a Nature Scavenger Hunt, returning with fuzzy wooly worms, sticks, leaves and lots of beautiful things! After a bountiful harvest of farmer’s market snacks, the afternoon event ended with a haywagon ride generously provided by local farmer Doug Schildmier.

Thanks so much to Mr. Kleiman and Mr. Schildmier, men who contribute so much to our community! Dani’s Dreams thanks our farmers for all they do!

Celebrate Our Farmers…

Celebrate Farmers at Dani’s Dreams

Farmersfarmer-clip-art-4-1 feed us, grow with us, and care for our land. Thursday, Sept. 19 from 3:30-5 p.m., Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center will host special activities to celebrate these important people in our community. Local farmer Brian Kleiman will talk with the children about his career, haywagon rides, Farmer’s Market snacks and Farmer’s Almanac activities are planned.

The first 20 students will receive a FREE Dani’s Dreams T-shirt. A limited number of Dani’s Dreams Dream It-Do It race T-shirts will be available at half price – $5. The class with the most participants (at least 5 people) who attend and sign in will receive a $50 classroom grant.

Email dgriffins@netzero.com for more information.



Register Online For Dani’s Dreams Walk/Run Aug. 3

discover posterddJoin the Sixth Annual Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run Aug. 3. The event includes a 5K race on the New Palestine High School cross country course or a one mile family fun run/walk on the NPHS football stadium. Your registration fee includes specially designed T-shirts with this year’s theme “Dream It – Do It!” Family registration fees includes 2 T-shirts

Register online today – CLICK HERE

Registration price goes up the day of the event and T-shirts are NOT guaranteed for late registrations.

Links for the registration forms are below – you can also bring or mail the forms to Zion Lutheran School, 6513 W. 300 S., New Palestine, IN 46163