Photo of Girls, Inc. girls at Blossom Hollow, by Mary Ellen Lennon

Many Hikes and Miles: Educator Grateful for CILTI Places and Programs

We thank Marion University professor Mary Ellen Lennon for this guest post.

As an educator, I have enjoyed the use of Central Indiana Land Trust resources and properties for student programming. I could not be more pleased to speak of the organization’s mission to students. And as a budding naturalist raising two young conservation ecologists, I eagerly scan my email in search of the next invitation to a public hike or talk sponsored by the land trust.

Timepiece Theatre Company’s Gene Stratton Porter, pioneering Indiana naturalist

CILTI programming has introduced me, my students, and my family to the joy and wonder of the sights, sounds, and smells of the changing seasons, as well as the responsibility of environmental preservation here in Central Indiana. A transplant to Indiana, I first found the land trust’s website in search of some “natural beauty” in a new landscape that I mistakenly reduced to cornfields. Now, many hikes and miles later, I am deeply thankful for the advocacy and work of CILTI.

Last year, my son and I joined a group walking in the woods with executive director Cliff Chapman when Gene Stratton Porter emerged from a copse of trees to share her thoughts! What a fun theater-in-the-woods experience. Our group of hikers—ages 5 to 70—could not have enjoyed the actress and the conversation more. Timepiece Theatre Company brought a historical figure to life in full muck-boot-and-1895-camera glory.

Meltzer Woods, the site of upcoming Spirit and Place Festival events, is a rich treasure that too many Hoosiers have yet to visit. My family recently walked the dirt trail of this old growth forest, marveling at the tall trees and imagining the Indiana of 150 years ago. A registered landmark, the plaque on the rock at its entrance speaks of its contribution “to a better understanding of man’s environment.” This is what CILTI does for Central Indiana, all in the service of connecting Hoosiers to the natural world.

Mary Ellen Lennon

Guest Blogger

Mary Ellen Lennon is assistant professor of history at Marion University.