Dunes Learning Center Honors Teacher Kelly Bennett with Green Apple Award

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News & People in the News, Featured

Published on September 15, 2021 with No Comments

Dunes Learning Center Honors Teacher Kelly Bennett with Green Apple Award

Every year, Dunes Learning Center recognizes excellence in environmental education through the Green Apple Award. This year’s recipient is Kelly Bennett, a middle school science teacher from Charter School of the Dunes. 

“We are recognizing Kelly for her dedication to her students, science, and the environment,” said Erin Crofton, Education Director at Dunes Learning Center. “Kelly has been a wonderful partner at Charter School of the Dunes.”

Kelly started bringing elementary students to Dunes Learning Center in 2007. As her role changed at Charter School of the Dunes, she expanded the school’s involvement in Dunes Learning Center programs to include lessons in the classroom, nearby natural areas, as well as on campus inside Indiana Dunes National Park. 

“The students love it so much! The Walk Through Time, where students get to meet a Potawatomi or a French fur trader brings the boring textbook information to life. When we are back in the classroom, it gives them a reference point, to be able to go back to something they actually experienced,” Kelly says. “This changed my teaching. Kids can read about things, but when they can make a connection outside of the classroom, I know they will retain this knowledge and wonder for the rest of their lives.”

Though the Green Apple Award is usually presented at the annual gala, A Dunes Affair, the event was canceled due to the rising number of Covid cases and uncertainty about the delta variant. 

“Throughout the pandemic, our decision-making has been rooted in science. We are very disappointed to not gather together as planned, but the safety of our supporters, volunteers, staff and students remains our top priority,” said Geof Benson, Executive Director of Dunes Learning Center. “We are delivering school-year programs in partnership with classroom teachers including our popular Watershed Ed, which will be taking place on local waterways over the next four weeks.”

Supporters of A Dunes Affair and Dunes Learning Center’s ongoing environmental education efforts include BP America and Cleveland Cliffs as lead sponsors, along with 1st Source Bank, Indiana University Northwest, Journeyman Distillery, Midland Trust, Purdue University Northwest, and Thorgren. Dunes Learning Center’s 2021 Corporate Event Sponsors include Cardno, Enbridge, Franklin Pest Solutions, Friends of Indiana Dunes, Keramida Inc., Mark J. Mihalo Family Dentistry, NIPSCO, J.F. Pelkey – Attorney at Law, Pratt Industries, and Wickcraft Boardwalks.

To learn more and support environmental education in partnership with local schools, go to DunesLearningCenter.org.

About Dunes Learning Center: With a mission to inspire lasting curiosity and stewardship with nature, Dunes Learning Center is the nonprofit education partner of Indiana Dunes National Park.

In a typical year, nearly 15,000 students of all ages from diverse communities and backgrounds participate in outdoor environmental learning and leadership experiences with Dunes Learning Center. School-year programs, summer camps, internships, and community education grow student connections with the outdoor world over time. Focused on the unique ecosystems of the Indiana Dunes, these nature-based experiences break down the barriers parents and teachers face in getting kids outdoors to explore and connect science with the real world. 

Since 1998, more than 150,000 students have participated in an environmental education program with Dunes Learning Center. Visit DunesLearningCenter.org/adunesaffair to learn more.

Caption: Kelly Bennett with the Green Apple Award at Dunes Learning Center

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