WESTVILLE — Shirley Heinze Land Trust held its annual Spring Benefit on May 18 at Purdue University Northwest’s Westville campus, with more than 320 supporters and guests in attendance.
The event raised funds to support the Trust’s mission to expand and connect natural lands throughout northwestern Indiana, build resiliency for tomorrow's challenges, and increase public access to local nature preserves for inspiration, recreation and enjoyment.
To open the program, Board Secretary Larry Stanton welcomed guests and spoke of the organization’s mission to preserve, protect and restore natural land in northwestern Indiana, and to inspire people of all ages to appreciate and experience these places. On behalf of the board, he acknowledged and thanked Executive Director Kristopher Krouse for his leadership and focus on the organization’s mission. Stanton also thanked the many partners and individuals who make this work possible, including the evening’s Benefactor Sponsor, Northern Indiana Public Service Company, and the Karner Blue sponsor, ArcelorMittal, along with all corporate and individual sponsors.
Speaking on behalf of NIPSCO was Jennifer Montague, Vice-President of Communications and External Affairs. In her remarks, Montague noted that the organization is proud of its role as a long-time contributor and partner of Shirley Heinze Land Trust, and mentioned several successful projects and accomplishments that have resulted, including the protection of Lydick Bog and Meadowbrook, among others.
Krouse introduced the distinguished speaker for the evening, Andrew Bowman, President and CEO of the Land Trust Alliance (LTA). Bowman presented an overview of the work of the LTA, a national nonprofit conservation organization that serves as the voice of the land trust community through its advocacy, capacity building, convening, and leadership. He congratulated Shirley Heinze Land Trust on its receipt of the LTA’s 2018 National Excellence Award, and noted that the LTA is proud of the Heinze Trust’s efforts to increase public awareness of the value of protecting land in northwestern Indiana. Bowman then introduced a 3-minute video about Shirley Heinze Land Trust, which was produced by the LTA as part of the award. To watch the video, go to http://www.heinzetrust.org/video.html
Krouse concluded the program by congratulating the auction winners and thanking everyone for their support. He also shared the news that Shirley Heinze Land Trust has achieved last year’s goal of creating a $1 million quasi-endowment fund. He noted that the endowment project was largely made possible by a bequest from a member of the organization’s Legacy Circle donors, and encouraged members of the audience to consider joining this group. Finally, Krouse acknowledged the recent passing of Charlotte Read, who was Shirley Heinze Land Trust’s first executive director, from 1984-1987.
Since 1981, Shirley Heinze Land Trust has protected, restored and maintained northwestern Indiana’s rich and significant natural communities, including tallgrass prairie, high dune, oak savanna, boreal flatwoods, dune-and-swale, woodlands, marshes, swamps, ponds, fens, bogs, and riparian habitat. More than 2,400 acres in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and St. Joseph Counties have been preserved for the public’s benefit. Shirley Heinze nature preserves feature significant scenic and ecological value, and most are open to the public for hiking and enjoying nature. Six of its properties have been dedicated to the people of Indiana as state nature preserves. The organization also works to educate people of all ages to appreciate the importance of land conservation, and to experience the natural wonders of this unique region. Its work is accomplished through a partnership of volunteers, donors, and professionals.