Tag Archives: Hancock County

What is Dani’s Dreams About?

#Explore   #ButterfliesUPCLOSE    #teacherinnovation

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Butterflies UPCLOSE – The Sequel

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Zion Lutheran second and sixth graders led the way Sept. 28 as area children enjoyed the chance to get UPCLOSE with Monarch butterflies at the second Butterflies UPCLOSE event sponsored by Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Programs.

Directed by Dani’s Dreams Outreach Coordinator Christina Harkleroad, in collaboration with Zion teachers Brenda Kreutz and Susan Seying, the activities were the culmination of several weeks of research, observation and care of Monarchs, donated by Betty Bemis of Backyard Butterflies, from caterpillars to butterflies.

Children of all ages were able to observe the butterflies, create crafts, and an edible butterfly life cycle craft, compete in quizzes and listen to the authors of the Butterflies UPCLOSE book produced by in 2015 by 14 then-second graders at Zion Lutheran School.

Butterflies UPCLOSE is one of the unique, STEM oriented activities offered by Dani’s Dreams Innovation in Education Corp.

If you would like Dani’s Dreams to work with your class, Scout troop, daycare or preschool to create a hands-on Outdoor Education or Language Arts activity, contact, President and CEO Donna Griffin at 317-640-4430 or dgriffins96@gmail.com.



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.”

Spreading our wings…the journey is just beginning!

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Photos by Elise Sombke

Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run once again gave the New Palestine area community a chance to “Spread Their Wings” and support innovative educational projects in Southern Hancock Schools.

At the heart of the event is giving children a chance to create, explore and discover this amazing planet we all call home – our common ground.

The Dani’s Dreams Walk/Run is also about celebrating the energy, spirit and accomplishments of our young people: Our T-shirt design contest winner, Paige Taylor, and second place winners, Kate Taylor and Danielle Taylor, and our scholarship winner Tara Morey.
The youth theme continued with the walk/run winners – Michael Morris (a record 8 out of 9) took the men’s division and Amanda Stewart won the women’s division in a photo finish with Paige Taylor and Emily Adam was a close third.

Thanks to all our community sponsors and volunteers who participated and made this special event possible.

If you missed the walk/run, you can still purchase a shirt ($10) or donate online at www.danisdreamsoutdooredcenter.com. All proceeds will go to support the Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Trail at Sugar Creek Township Park and our Eco Lessons in Southern Hancock classrooms this school year!

Dani’s Dreams Innovation in Education Corp. is a 501c3 organization with a mission to provide innovative, hands-on educational projects for grades preschool through 12 and to connect and empower children in their community.

Contact President and CEO Donna Griffin at (email) dgriffins96@gmail.com or call 317-640-4430.

New authors spread their wings with book project

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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 pavilion. The 14 students spent 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.

Butterflies upclose coverDani’s Dreams took their work and published it into a one-of-a-kind booklet with drawings and information compiled by the students. In late May the students held a signing party, receiving their copies and donating one to the Zion Lutheran School library.

The books are now on sale for $10 online HERE or copies will be available at the Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run Aug. 6 at New Palestine High School.

Get the Coolest T-shirt on the Planet and ‘Change the World’

danisdreams2016tshirtdesignCongratulations to Paige Taylor, Zion Lutheran School whose design (left) won the 2016 Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Programs contest. Her design will appear on hundreds of T-shirts for the Aug. 6 Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run to support the new Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Trail at Sugar Creek Park!

danisdreamssecondplace2016tooKeeping it in the Taylor family, second place design goes to both Kate Taylor and Danielle Taylor, both Zion Lutheran students.

Register HERE to purchase your shirt and register for the walk/run!

danisdreams 2016second place drawing



Good day, sunshine! ECOFEST 2016

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Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Programs and New Palestine High School teacher Brittany Bennett and her students hosted ECOFEST 2016 April 15, celebrating bringing innovative STEM education activities to Southern Hancock students. Students, parents and grandparents took the challenge and enjoyed bubbles, gliders and saw the liftoff of a solar balloon thanks to NPHS student volunteers at the Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center at Zion Lutheran School.

Ana Ostendorf and Allison Norman gave students in attendance a sneak peak at the ECOFEST solar energy lesson. All those in attendance saw solar in action thanks to David Griffin and learned how this renewable energy works in a video produced by our Dani’s Dreams reporters Sarah and Emily Adam.
NPHS Alumnus Ryan Schroeder tested ECOFEST participants’ knowledge of invasive species with his “Friends or Foes” game. Schroeder is the president of the Purdue University Environmental Science Club. DNR Project Learning Tree Coordinator Donna Rogler shared her extensive knowledge and seedlings to take home. Willing Hands Entertainment provided free facepainting for all kids!

Because of the great response to ECOFEST Lessons and the festival, Dani’s Dreams is extending the deadline for the Southern Hancock T-shirt Wars to sign up for membership and help your favorite elementary school win a $300 grant! Sign up by May 6 online here to become a Dani’s Dreams Team member and get your favorite kid a free T-shirt, wristband, certificate and exciting and fun activities and information they can use all year to “Change the World!”

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!


‘Hibe and sleep’…

Drawing by Sarah Adam, 7th grade, Doe Creek Middle School

By Christina Harkleroad, intern coordinator

Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center
Now in the midst of winter, some animals are in a stage called hibernation. This is a state of inactivity where their body temperature decreases and their heartbeat and breathing slow down. Their bodies go through this to conserve energy that the animals spent all fall saving up. During fall time, the animals eat an increased amount of food to increase their overall body fat. This allows them to be insulated and they will use it throughout their hibernation period for energy.
Many animals hibernate. Some animals in our area that hibernate are skunks, chipmunks, some squirrels, and some bats. Also, bears hibernate but those are not in our area. They are mainly in mountain regions to our south and east. These animals hibernate to conserve energy in the winter months when food is hard to find. As animals prepare for hibernation, they eat enough food to last them through the upcoming winter months. Their bodies produce special fat tissues around their brain, heart, and lungs to provide extra insulation in those areas.
Animals who use lots of energy throughout the winter days, but do not hibernate, become dormant during parts of the day. This is similar to hibernating however instead of sleeping throughout winter, they sleep for a major part of the day in order to conserve energy. Hummingbirds and some small bats are examples of animals that are dormant for parts of winter.
During winter you see less squirrels, chipmunks, and skunks, now you know that they’re just in hibernation and once spring rolls around, they’ll be back to their playful ways. In my next column, I will be exploring what germination is as spring time grows closer and the flowers begin to bloom.

Check out the Dani’s Dreams Facebook Page to see the Top 10 Coolest Hibernators! Become a Dani’s Dreams Team Member here and find out how to track animals with our winter newsmat! You’ll get a wristband and a certificate, too!