The foundation works to educate people about the natural sciences and natural history of the Indiana Coastal Zone. Whether its ecology, conservation biology, botany, zoology, geology, environmental science, anthropology, or much more, the Foundation over the years has supported a variety of elementary, secondary and college programs. A representative example is highlighted below:
Since the founding of the Foundation a major focus has been to provide educational programs for the public. Beginning in 2005 FRF has supported and funded several public programs which focus on introducing and educating the general public about the Richardson's legacy and the unique natural history of the Dune Region surrounding the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Several projects are highlighted below.
The relationship between FRF and the Westchester Township History Museum began in 2005. FRF is pleased to have the Richardson Archives available to the public and many of their personal possessions on display at the Museum. In 2012 joint exhibits featuring the lives, work, and educational contributions of William and Flora Richardson were displayed at the Westchester Township History Museum and the Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University. The exhibit at the Westchester Township History Museum drew on artifacts to highlight the lives of the couple, their work, their role in the early Save the Dunes movement, and Flora Richardson’s work to establish the Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary, a national program to educate the public about the beauty of the Indiana Dunes.
The Brauer Museum of Art 2012 exhibition focused on the photography of William Richardson and consisted of 40 photographs framed under glass. The photographs reflected all phases of Richardson’s career and his photographic legacy as a pictorialist photographer. More information about and links to digital scans of many of William's Photographs are available on this page.
In 2010 FRF provided a grant to support building an observation tower in the Indiana Dunes State Park. The tower is envisioned to aid in the study of regional and migratory birds as well as a jumping-off point for other natural history topics. The tower provides a unique public viewing platform in the dunes.
The Richardson Preserve is located mid-way between the cities of Michigan City and LaPorte off Highway 35 in Springfield Township, LaPorte County.
The Preserve is significant in its size (over 100 acres) and relatively undisturbed natural condition. The Foundation is developing plans for continued proper management of the site as a natural area. Current and future work on the preserve involves continued invasive species control; continued surveys of flora, fauna and mycota; various scientific studies and monitoring; and developing education tools and programs.
The site is open to the public for specific uses, including hiking, photography, and nature study. Formal trails are in various stages of development. Visitors are asked to respect all natural features, take no samples (e.g. rocks, soils, plants, etc.) from the property, and to respect the privacy of the Foundation’s land management stewards who currently live within the preserve boundaries.
-Duneland Schools Frog in the Bog-
In 2009, the Flora Richardson Foundation initiated a partnership with the Duneland School Corporation and the Dunes Learning Center. FRF approached both organizations with the desire to fund a program where students actively learn about the dune region in an outdoor environment. What evolved was FRF funding a two-day, overnight, intensive environmental education program at the Dunes Learning Center for students within the Duneland School Corporation: Frog in the Bog. FRF is proud to have helped thousands of students learn more about the natural world in the region.
Students challenge themselves and work together. They encounter wild and beautiful parts of the Indiana Dunes National Park that very few people ever visit. They return to their classrooms with memories and data, sketches and impressions that provide a foundation for continued work in social studies, science, art and language arts. But they also return to their home community with a sense of appreciation for the amazing natural resources in their own backyard.
The Flora Richardson Foundation is currently strategizing and developing an education program targeting Secondary Schools (high schools) in the region. Stay tuned as the program materializes.
In 2008 FRF announced the creation and call for applicants for the Flora Richardson Foundation Grants for Research in the Natural Sciences and Natural History. The program, which ran from 2009 to 2013, awarded over $70,000 in grants to undergraduate students conducting individual research projects in the dune area. Eight different university students from four area schools (Indiana University Northwest, Purdue University Calumet, Purdue University North Central, and Valparaiso University) carried out projects in subjects such as analyzing water quality in restored wetlands, documenting sand migration patterns of an active dune, determining effects of pollution on various dune plants, investigating diversity of algae in wetlands, and more.
In 2012, FRF changed the focus of the college-level education programs from individual student research to helping support internships with local conservation and scientific community partners through the GLISTEN program (Great Lakes Innovative Stewardship Through Education Network). The local Calumet Cluster of GLISTEN is run out of Indiana University Northwest (IUN) and provides summer internships at conservation-minded community partners from Lake, Porter, and LaPorte Counties in Indiana with local university students from an array of regional colleges (to date: Calumet College of St. Joseph, Governors State University, Indiana University (two campuses), Ivy tech Community College, Purdue University (two campuses), and Valparaiso University). The student interns, called Stewardship Liaisons, work side-by-side with local conservation and natural science investigators learning about the natural history of the dune region while gaining real job experience. The Stewardship Liaisons investigate real-life problems relating to the ecology of the region and prepare and present their findings in the fall after fieldwork is complete. Several Stewardship Liaisons continue to work through the school year at their home university by assisting faculty with developing field-related lab sessions or using their own field data to teach various concepts in biology, ecology, chemistry, and geology courses at the area colleges.
GLISTEN Stewardship Liaison poster topics by year and links to files