Birds and poetry at Oliver's Woods

A Year in Nature

In 2021, we offered a variety of ways to get out in nature throughout the year. From guided hikes to volunteer days to special events, it was a great year to get outdoors.

We kicked off our outreach in early spring, when volunteers came out to pull garlic mustard and clean up the preserves. Both Meltzer Woods and Oliver’s Woods benefited from these work days. (A big thank-you to all who took part!)

Young nature-lover

By May, a “Wake up to Spring” nature walk showcased the acclaimed children’s book Wake Up, Woods. Michael Homoya, its coauthor, read from the book and led an exploration of the forest at Oliver’s Woods. Children and adults thrilled to discover spring’s wildflowers at this urban preserve. Illustrator Gillian Harris was on hand with her beautiful artwork.

Early June had us pairing poetry with birdsong at Oliver’s Woods. This outing featured the lyricism of Hoosier poet Lylanne Musselman and a nature walk led by executive director Cliff Chapman.

On a sweltering June night, we hosted a happy hour in celebration of the Brood X cicadas, featuring entomologist Dr. Elizabeth Barnes. As a bonus(?), the refreshments included a “cicada tasting” (a surprise to the CILTI staff).

A creek cleanup in August was very well-attended despite a major downpour—proving once again that our volunteers are the best.

In the fall, Oliver’s Woods was the setting for a Feathers and Fermentation event with Indiana Audubon and the Indy Brew Bus. Wes Homoya led participants in birding along the White River. Highlights of the day included sights of Nashville and Tennessee warblers foraging, a pair of pileated woodpeckers flying by, map turtles sunning themselves in the river, and a pewee sallying for insects.⁠

Monarch mural

Our best-attended event may have been our Spirit and Place Festival collaboration with Indiana Wildlife Federation. About 50 participants painted a monarch butterfly mural that will be hung at Oliver’s Woods this spring. Under the guidance of muralist Megan Jefferson, the life stages of this iconic butterfly now adorn four large aluminum composite sheets. Attendees also learned about habitat conservation from our executive director, Cliff Chapman, and IWF’s executive director, Emily Wood, and took a nature walk with Grace van Kan, our White River Steward.

Finally, late in the year, many joined us for nature walks at Burnett Woods and Oliver’s Woods . The colors of autumn were still glowing on Thanksgiving weekend. But by early December, leafless tree identification was our theme.

Families enjoyed our preserves this year.

Of course, that’s not including all the folks who participated in our Trek our Trails Challenge, culminating in a drawing for one lucky winner. Over 50 people visited at least one preserve, and 30 completed the challenge by visiting all five featured properties.

We look forward to another great year of outdoor fun and learning! Keep an eye on our events page for upcoming outings.

Shawndra Miller

Communications Manager

Shawndra is in charge of sharing our story and connecting you to our work. Through our print and online materials, she hopes to inspire your participation in protecting special places for future generations.