Give Adventure Grant: A Doorway to Outdoor Exploration

As we approach a new year, the INRF looks back on our past Give Adventure grant recipients. The purpose of the Give Adventure grant is to help the Indiana Department of Natural Resources engage youth, families and first-time users across the state in outdoor recreational experiences. In a time when children spend more time looking at screens than playing in nature, this grant program is more important than ever.

Since the grant program began in 2019, it has found success in two projects. The first Give Adventure grant was awarded to the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife to create an outdoor program with Wendell Phillips School 63 on the near west side of Indianapolis. The funds granted were used to install a sensory garden, pollinator habitat, and a monarch waystation on the school’s campus.

As a part of the project, Fish & Wildlife also partnered with Groundwork Indy, a youth development organization that creates community partnerships that promote environmental, economic and social well-being. Students from Wendell Phillips and youth from Groundwork Indy helped with the installation and continued maintenance of the gardens and new habitats at the school. The effort was so successful that it inspired some students to plant their own gardens at home.

Young adults from Groundwork Indy learn about wildlife native to Indiana at Camp Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area in 2019.

The students who attend Wendell Phillips live in an urban area where outdoor opportunities and connections with nature are few and far between. The Give Adventure grant made a significant impact, allowing many students to experience and learn about the natural world for the first time.

The program also provided teachers at the school with Project WILD curriculum so students could continue to learn and develop the habitats for years to come. As a result of its hard work, the Division of Fish & Wildlife recently received the Excellence in Conservation award from the Midwest Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies.

In 2020, Brown County State Park received the second Give Adventure grant to create GoBikeIN mountain biking workshops. Spearheaded by park interpretive naturalist, Patrick Haulter, the workshops are available for beginners of all ages. The funds were used to purchase bikes, safety gear, and a trailer to haul the equipment.

The GoBikeIN biking gear trailer at Brown County State Park.

The goal of the GoBikeIN workshops is to break down the intimidating barriers that mountain biking can present, not only from a skill level standpoint, but also from a financial standpoint. Mountain bikes and helmets are available to beginners, removing the initial cost of trying a new sport. Readers interested in more information on the mountain bike workshops should contact Brown County State Park.

“I hope these workshops give folks who otherwise may have never tried the activity a chance to give it a shot, overcome their fears, and fall in love with it,” Haulter said. “I also hope that these workshops and some of the guided rides I plan to offer will help promote the idea of conservation to a new user group so that we can keep these amazing wild places beautiful for years and years to come.”

A father and son enjoy mountain bike trails at Brown County State Park.

Paving the way for new outdoor recreationalists to experience nature will ensure public lands and outdoor recreation opportunities are available to future generations in Indiana. It is through the generosity of residents and organizations that care that we can offer this grant.

2020 was a record-breaking year for outdoor recreation in Indiana, and it highlighted the importance of public lands and outdoor opportunities for all. This holiday season, please consider donating to the INRF’s year-end campaign. Help us ensure that public lands are accessible, critical habitats are preserved and protected and educational opportunities are made available to cultivate future Hoosier conservationists.