Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College

Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College Merry Lea is an 1,189-acre nature preserve owned by Goshen College. It is known for its diverse ecosystems and strong environmental education programs.

Merry Lea is a natural sanctuary located near Wolf Lake, Indiana. Management of the center is guided by a Christian theology of earthkeeping. Most of the habitats found in northeastern Indiana are present on Merry Lea. Unique geological features such as peat bogs, a marl pit, and glacial gravel formations are present. Observable management practices include wetland, prairie, and savanna restorations, as well as sustainable agriculture. A vigorous educational program interprets the significant biological and geological features.

Mission: Providing a natural sanctuary for northern Indiana's plants and animals Providing environmental education for people of all ages Providing a setting for re-creating opportunities that benefit the human body and spirit while not exploiting the land or excessively disturbing its ecosystems

Merry Lea's Jonathon Schramm taught a course entitled Ecology and Sustainability in the Indian Himalayas last month. The...
06/05/2019

Merry Lea's Jonathon Schramm taught a course entitled Ecology and Sustainability in the Indian Himalayas last month. These students are lucky to encounter unfamiliar landscapes with Jonathon to guide them. Whether in the carpool or 7000 miles away, he is a keen observer.

We are just starting our second week of our 2019 Agroecology Summer Intensive and we are ready to dive deep into local &...
06/03/2019

We are just starting our second week of our 2019 Agroecology Summer Intensive and we are ready to dive deep into local & regional food system! Our multi-college cohort has been working together as they become familiar with all we are doing on Merry Lea Farm and the overarching concept of Agroecology. What a great group! #agromerrylea Goshen College @goshencollege @purduestudentfarm #localfood #handsinthesoil #environmentaleducation #sustainableagriculture #regenerativefarming

05/30/2019
Goshen Community Schools

Judy Miller is a 2015 graduate of Goshen College MAEE program at Merry Lea! Thank you Judy Miller for your work to further sustainability within Goshen Community Schools!!!

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that Goshen Community Schools in Goshen, IN is among the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Awardees.

The three Pillars of this award are:
Pillar One: Reducing environmental impact, such as waste, water, energy, greenhouse gases, and transportation, encompassing the areas of school facilities, grounds, and operations;
Pillar Two: Improving health and wellness by promoting a healthy physical environment (including aspects such as air quality, contaminant control, moisture control, acoustics, daylighting, pest management, and thermal comfort) and student and staff wellness practices (such as healthy school food and outdoors physical activity); and
Pillar Three: Offering effective environmental and sustainability education, including civic learning, green careers, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) connections.

Goshen Community Schools was nominated by the Indiana Department of Education, after review of Goshen’s application and qualifications.

According to GCS Superintendent Dr. Diane Woodworth, “This award is a great honor for GCS! We are very pleased to receive this. The students and staff deserve the recognition, as much of the drive toward recycling and other environmentally friendly practices are from them. Our Energy Educator, Judy Miller, also deserves much credit as she is always working behind the scenes to keep our momentum going.”

Judy Miller, GCS Energy Educator said, “I’m so pleased that our district has been chosen to receive this coveted DOE Green Ribbon Schools distinction. There were so many components in this application that basically fit into the three required growth pillars of: reducing environmental impact and costs; improving health and wellness; and providing effective environmental and sustainability education. If it “takes a village” to raise a child, it certainly takes “a whole corporation” to educate a student. We are being recognized with this distinction because of this “whole corporation” approach. Our corporation is enhanced by an active community, our students, the Coordinated School Health Committee, our Green Team, the custodial and maintenance departments, teachers, administrators, school counselors, support staff, and school nutrition staff—all are essential participants in our approach to wellness, and growth as a healthy and sustainable organization.”

Highlights of Goshen qualifications for Pillar One include: Implementing an energy conservation program in 2009 with a full-time Energy Educator to lead the program; In 2012 the district received ENERGY STAR leader recognition; Since the inception of its energy conservation initiatives, GCS has achieved a cost avoidance of $4.4 million, representing a 25% savings on energy costs for the district; Two GCS schools have solar panels, Waterford Elementary has 1,173 solar panels, each with 260 watts of capacity for a total system size of 304,980 watts, and Goshen High School has 1,242 solar panels, each with 260 watts of capacity, for a total system size of 322,920 watts; High school students can access the data from the GHS solar array and use the information as part of their curriculum; The district has installed water-bottle filling stations to encourage students to bring their water bottles from home instead of buying bottles of water from the vending machines; Every school in the district has a purposeful recycling program which includes student involvement and education; and, Students and staff members use designated walkways and trails to walk and bike to school.

Goshen highlights for Pillar Two include: The custodial staff using eco-friendly cleaning solutions and microfiber cloths to reduce the use of chemical cleaners; When needed, the grounds crew uses fertilizer that is 2/3 organic; A coordinated school health committee addresses and evaluates ways to improve the health and wellness of students and staff; A health and wellness center for those on the school’s insurance, staffed by a physician, nurse practitioner, nurses, and medical assistants; Wellness screenings and health risk appraisals for all employees in each school/building each year; Free nutritious snacks are available during after-school hours to students in all grades attending any after-school activity; Middle School students planting, tending, and harvesting a community garden sponsored by Goshen Health; IU dental school comes to the elementary schools yearly to check the teeth of 2nd and 3rd graders and offer sealants as needed; Run the Halls, which encourages students to track their time and/or miles in after-school running and walking; and, GCS has used its purchasing power to advocate for healthier lunch options from vendors, showcasing local foods.

Pillar Three highlights include: The opportunities provided to students by local businesses and local government, to work on real-word sustainability problems and search for solutions; Through Greenpower, students have built an electric car; In conjunction with the City of Goshen, GHS students addressed sediment from stormwater runoff as a major cause of pollution in local waterways; GHS students designed prosthetics for a calf born with malformed hooves; At GHS, the development of a super-mileage car and a solar-powered automatic chicken coop door for a local veterinarian; Learning about marine life during the Spring Break Marine Biology trip to the Florida Keys; Participation in a carbon footprint reduction challenge; Partnering with Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College for field trips and study days; Partnering with Northern Indiana Public Service Company to provide every 5th grader with an energy-reduction kit as part of their curriculum; 8th graders partnering with the Elkhart County Soil and Water Conservation District which provides an outdoor learning day at the nearby Environmental Center and River Greenway Trail; and, The optional 8th grade trip to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, where students camp, hike, and explore the great outdoors.

Across the country, 35 schools, 14 school districts, and four post-secondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. Goshen Community Schools was among the 14 school districts recognized across the nation and was the only honoree in the State of Indiana.

A huge THANK YOU to all members of the GCS community who help to make GCS an efficient, healthy, more sustainable place!

Our eleven master's students are enjoying an assignment-free weekend. Here they are posing with their professors for one...
05/27/2019

Our eleven master's students are enjoying an assignment-free weekend. Here they are posing with their professors for one last photo before they scatter.

While the adults discuss the age of forests, this NatureFest attendee brings nature exploration down to his own level.
05/23/2019

While the adults discuss the age of forests, this NatureFest attendee brings nature exploration down to his own level.

Merry Lea of Goshen College Farm Folks had a blast visiting our friends down at the Purdue Student Farm!  There is so mu...
05/22/2019

Merry Lea of Goshen College Farm Folks had a blast visiting our friends down at the Purdue Student Farm! There is so much good work going on. We enjoyed swapping stories and helpful hints with Chris Adair the farm manager and listening to the bees buzzing through the clover. We even have a Boilermaker coming to take our Agroecology Summer Intensive semester this summer as a student. Food brings everyone together!

Purdue Student Farm Organization Purdue University #agromerrylea Goshen College

@purduestudentfarm @goshencollege @purdue_ag

These international volunteers joined us for NatureFest this year. What fun to hear perspectives from Zimbabwe, Laos, Ke...
05/22/2019

These international volunteers joined us for NatureFest this year. What fun to hear perspectives from Zimbabwe, Laos, Kenya and other countries too while hiking.

☀️🦋 It's a beautiful day for Nature Fest! It's not too late to join us - activities will be happening until 1:30!...
05/18/2019

☀️🦋 It's a beautiful day for Nature Fest! It's not too late to join us - activities will be happening until 1:30! 🌳🌻

The cattle have started their summer's work in our Woody Perennial Polyculture.  We are looking forward to another year ...
05/16/2019

The cattle have started their summer's work in our Woody Perennial Polyculture. We are looking forward to another year of mob grazing between fruit and berry plants. The cattle's hooves will provide needed disturbance to the upper layer of soil while their grazing will increase below ground carbon accumulation. Manure and urine will turn grass back into bioavailable nutrients to feed the soil food web. Our summer semester Agroecology students will move these fine bovines about every other day. Regenerative agroecology FTW! Thanks Blue Heron farm for all your help on this collaborative project. #agromerrylea #regenereativeag #sustainablefarming #cowsgomoo Goshen College

Now is a time to come to Merry Lea for a trillium hike. They're blooming near the Learning Center trailhead.
05/15/2019

Now is a time to come to Merry Lea for a trillium hike. They're blooming near the Learning Center trailhead.

Our students have unique place-based learning experiences in our programs. In this recent article, sustainability profes...
05/13/2019

Our students have unique place-based learning experiences in our programs. In this recent article, sustainability professor, Joel Pontius, shares an experience hunting white-tailed for food with MAEE student, Emily Hayne. We would enjoy hearing your thoughts and questions!

"For Emily, going hunting was a way to engage with the whole process of bringing food to the table, including the spectrum of emotional, spiritual and physical responses to that experience."

Read the article from our spring issue:
Forest to Table: Deer hunt delves into the ethics of eating

http://ediblemichiana.ediblecommunities.com/food-thought/deer-hunt-ethics

Story by Joel Pontius; illustration by Melissa Washburn Illustration + Design

Members of Merry Lea Farm and Goshen College Sustainable Food Systems faculty enjoyed a night out last night supporting ...
05/10/2019

Members of Merry Lea Farm and Goshen College Sustainable Food Systems faculty enjoyed a night out last night supporting the Plowshares Cooperative Food Hub at the Joseph Decuis Wagyu Farm. It was a meaningful time interacting with colleagues and forming community amongst producers, advocates, and consumers. We got to catch up with many of the folks we visit as part of our Agroecology Summer Intensive semester and make a few new friends! Merry Lea's location halfway between Fort Wayne and Goshen provides a lot of exciting opportunities for connections in the local food scene!

#localfood #farmtofork #decentralization #supportlocal #knowyourfarmer #neifood #slowfoods #sustainable #sustainableagriculture #agriculture #fortwayne #foodhubgrub #environmentalawareness #economicdevelopement #restorativeagriculture #healthconcious #healthyeating #healthyfoods #agribusiness #foodsystems #cooperatives
#agromerrylea #communitydevelopment

THIS TIME with the LINK available. (You really should read the article!) Luke Gascho, Merry Lea's executive director, re...
05/09/2019
Tilling soil on stolen land

THIS TIME with the LINK available. (You really should read the article!) Luke Gascho, Merry Lea's executive director, recently published an article entitled, Tilling Soil on Stolen Land. "Who cherished this land before me?" he asks as he ponders his garden and its history with the Indigenous Peoples of Northern Indiana.
https://themennonite.org/feature/tilling-soil-stolen-land/

Photo: Luke Gascho in his garden. Photo provided by the author. This article comes from the May issue of The Mennonite, which focuses on “God so loved the world.” Read more reflections online or subscribe to receive more original features in your inbox each month. I love getting my hands in the ...

Luke Gascho, Merry Lea's executive director, recently published an article entitled, Tilling Soil on Stolen Land. "Who c...
05/08/2019

Luke Gascho, Merry Lea's executive director, recently published an article entitled, Tilling Soil on Stolen Land. "Who cherished this land before me?" he asks as he ponders his garden and its history with the Indigenous Peoples of Northern Indiana.

Who says babies can't canoe!? Nature Fest is for everyone- Register today at goshen.edu/merrylea/naturefest(Although you...
05/07/2019

Who says babies can't canoe!? Nature Fest is for everyone- Register today at goshen.edu/merrylea/naturefest

(Although you should plan to bring your own infant life vest... we do have kids sizes!)

Merry Lea’s master’s students are presenting their final research projects right now. Sam Buchanan looked at the rea...
05/03/2019

Merry Lea’s master’s students are presenting their final research projects right now. Sam Buchanan looked at the reasons that teachers plan field trips to informal learning centers like Merry Lea and the hopes they have for the experiences. What childhood field trip brought classroom learning to life in a new way for you?

Scampering Salamanders- Our Nature Fest schedule is now live!Enjoy nature journaling, canoeing, a night hike, orienteeri...
05/01/2019
Nature Fest – Merry Lea

Scampering Salamanders- Our Nature Fest schedule is now live!
Enjoy nature journaling, canoeing, a night hike, orienteering, 💕 baby goats 💕 and more! Check out the full schedule on our webpage.

Where: Farmstead Barn Site | When: Friday, May 17, 7:00 PM - Saturday, May 18, 1:30 PM It’s time to get outside and celebrate the beautiful spring weather! This fun-filled festival is a great experience for the whole family. A variety of activities will be happening over the weekend that you, your...

Merry Lea's Exploring Nature program gets kids to connect with nature using all five senses. At this station, a boy iden...
05/01/2019

Merry Lea's Exploring Nature program gets kids to connect with nature using all five senses. At this station, a boy identifies an antler by touch.

04/29/2019

Congrats to all the @goshencollege students who graduated yesterday, including this year’s Masters of Arts in Environmental Education cohort. Sam Buchanan wins the award for neatest cap!
#environmentaleducation #placebasededucation #placebasedlearning #prettyneat #thatsprettyneat

We had three baby goat kids born last night in the barn.  Momma and babies are doing great...which also means our milkin...
04/26/2019

We had three baby goat kids born last night in the barn. Momma and babies are doing great...which also means our milking season has begun. Both the livestock and the garden spaces are gearing up for the Agroecology Summer Intensive coming up in about a month. New Life Abounds! #agromerrylea Goshen College #handsonlearning #authenticexperiences #sustainableag #gotthegoat

There's a whole lot of spring happening along the trails at Merry Lea these days! Come on out to enjoy it!
04/25/2019

There's a whole lot of spring happening along the trails at Merry Lea these days! Come on out to enjoy it!

Environmental Educator Krista Freel shares Sippy, Merry Lea's Northern water snake, with a group of 2nd graders visiting...
04/23/2019

Environmental Educator Krista Freel shares Sippy, Merry Lea's Northern water snake, with a group of 2nd graders visiting for an Exploring Nature program.

Dr. Jean Lomino spoke about forest kindergarten programs at Merry Lea this week. She told us that children with exposure...
04/19/2019

Dr. Jean Lomino spoke about forest kindergarten programs at Merry Lea this week. She told us that children with exposure to nature exhibit better concentration, better leadership skills and more resilience. In a German study, an insurance company found that even later in life, they were better at assessing risk and had fewer accidents.

We're partnering with Dekko Foundation to bring noted educator Dr. Jean Lomino, Ph.D., co-founder and director of the Wa...
04/08/2019
Forest Kindergartens in Public Education – Merry Lea

We're partnering with Dekko Foundation to bring noted educator Dr. Jean Lomino, Ph.D., co-founder and director of the Wauhatchie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to northeast Indiana to share how forest kindergarten programs can fit in public education. She'll discuss the different forms Forest Schools take; how schools justify these programs and assess students within Forest School settings; and how Forest Schools align with state standards.

Dr. Lomino will speak at 7 p.m. April 17, 2019, at the Merry Lea Farmstead Barn near Wolf Lake. The event is FREE and open to the public. If you're interested in attending, please preregister at the link below.

Where: Merry Lea Farmstead Barn 2152 S 425 W Albion, IN 46701 | When: Wednesday, April 17, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM How exactly do Forest Kindergarten programs fit into school systems, and what forms do they take?   How do schools justify these programs and assess students within these settings?   How do...

04/03/2019

Faculty, students, and families had a great time burning the Goodrich prairie grazing research site yesterday. This important work sets out to quantify the effects of cattle grazing on prairie communities...both above ground and below ground! In order to practice sustainability and regenerative agriculture it is crucial to study the effects of our management practices on plant biodiversity, vegetative cover, and soil carbon. We are so thankful for collaborations across the SEED and Biology departments. @goshencollege #placebasedlearning #authentic #sustainability #agromerrylea #regenerativeagriculture #weDIDstartthefire

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2388 S 500 W
Albion, IN
46701

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