Wendell Phillips School 63, an Indianapolis Public School for preschool through eighth grade, will receive new outdoor classrooms thanks to an award from Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) to the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. The project is in partnership with Groundwork Indy.

ROW awarded $14,000 from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust White River Fund to the DNR to support the installation of native plant and wildflower habitat around Wendell Phillips School 63. These funds will also support professional development for both Groundwork Indy and school educators.

“As a collective, Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW), seeks to support efforts that engage and connect our community with waterways nearby,” said Julie Rhodes, collective impact director of ROW.

The DNR and Groundwork Indy have already been working on the installations, which will be used as outdoor classrooms, through a Give Adventure grant previously awarded by the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation, but the funding from ROW will give the work an added boost.

“We’re excited to assist the school with developing wildlife habitat while fostering a connection to natural resources through education,” said Angie Haywood, outreach and education director for DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. “We hope the students will not only find interest in learning about conservation-based topics, but also find a personal connection to nature that benefits them.”

Funding provided by ROW will assist with habitat installation maintenance as well as a workshop to provide teachers with Project WILD curriculum to use in their new outdoor classrooms. ROW funding will also support a professional development day with Groundwork Indy staff, where young workers will have the opportunity to learn hands-on skills used in natural resources work.

Upon completion of the plantings and conservation education training, a celebratory community festival is planned for the fall. The Haughville community will have the opportunity to explore the habitat installations and interact directly with partner organizations involved with the project.

“We are pleased to award funding to build native plant and pollinator gardens that will add beauty, improve water quality and restore habitats near the White River at Wendell Phillips,” Rhodes said. “This collaboration between the school, DNR and Groundwork Indy will leave a legacy and help the next generation of children value the river.”

To learn more about ROW, visit ourwaterways.org. For more information about Groundwork Indy, visit groundworkindy.org.

To view all DNR news releases, please see dnr.IN.gov.