The Friends of Indiana Dunes has been awarded the Partnership of the Year
Award by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State
Parks and Reservoirs, for its ongoing support of Indiana Dunes State Park.
The award was presented to the Friends of Indiana Dunes at a ceremony in
Indianapolis on March 6.
As Property Manager Brandt Baughman noted in his nomination of the Friends,
the organization has “continued to maintain a dynamic and vital partnership
with Indiana Dunes State Park. Throughout the history of the organization,
they have provided an incredible amount of support in several different
disciplines, including the programmatic, fiscal, and operational arenas.
They were the first Friends group for an Indiana state park, and they should
be commended for their longevity and dedication.”
Over the last four years alone, the Friends of Indiana dunes has purchased
for use at the park a three all-terrain vehicles, a motorized wheelchair for
use by disabled visitors, a Zeiss spotting scope, a telescope, two kayaks,
three mountain bikes, wildlife mounts and a sound system for the Nature
Center, a laptop computer, a portable public address system, and property
The Friends’ “budgetary expenditures have not only been equipment-related,
though,” Baughman said. “Since 2009, they have funded a unique and very
successful position at Indiana Dunes State Park: the Outreach Coordinator.
Their generosity fully funds this position, including salary, FICA, and
expenses. This program allows us to conduct a series of three week-long day
camps that are based out of the Nature Center and these have become wildly
popular with local children and their parents. The Friends have also
provided more than $5,000 in donations to local schools, enabling them to
conduct field trips at the state park when they could not otherwise afford
to do so.”
The Friends also fund a range of programs. It pays for the services of
storytellers and musicians at the park’s special events, for supplies for
the Leopold Bench workshops, for materials for the beach glass jewelry
programs, for judges and prizes at the sandcastle and campsite decorating
contests, and for all bird seed and animal feed expenses.
“The organization has also went above and beyond by providing the avenue for
us to keep all of the Bird Observation Platform donations and grants in a
dedicated account, and when it came time for the park to access those funds,
they kicked in an additional amount which provided enough funding to
purchase an interpretive sign for the platform,” Baughman added.
Moreover, the Friends supports “direct” stewardship activities as well. Its
annual Native Plant Sale, held every April at the Pavilion, “is not only one
of their primary sources of income but also promotes and makes available the
utilization of local plant species, and people come from many miles around
to take part in this sale,” Baughman said.
“2012 was a high-water mark for the Friends,” Baughman noted. “The
combination of an active board, generous donors, wise investments, and sound
fiscal management has led to a phenomenal year. The Board recently
approached the park due to the fact that they needed to quickly spend $5,000
before the end of the calendar year for 501(c)(3) compliance purposes. The
park presented several ‘wish list’ options, including a new Sand Wheelchair
and a new ATV, each of which exceeded the specified amount. The Friends, in
their generosity and wisdom, recognized the value of each of these requests
and not only approved both the Wheelchair and the ATV, but threw in an extra
ATV to boot. These purchases totaled over $24,000, and all of the equipment
was on-hand in less than a week from the time of the request. This generous
donation brought the Friends total expenditures for Indiana Dunes to an
amount in excess of $100,000 since 2006.”
“The Friends of Indiana Dunes celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2012,”
Baughman said. “This is a significant milestone that could be recognized and
celebrated solely on the merits of their lengthy existence. However, they
have chosen to not only continue their enthusiastic support, but to expand
and increase it as well.”
“The staff of Indiana Dunes State Park is eternally grateful for the
immeasurable support and partnership that the Friends of Indiana Dunes have
provided, not only this year but in the 29 years that preceded it,” Baughman
concluded his nomination.