Local students, Ripley County Community Foundation team up to create “A Greener Tomorrow”

Oldenburg Academy students planting pollinator gardens. (Photo provided)

Ripley County, IN — The Ripley County Community Foundation (RCCF) has a mission to support the overall comprehensive wealth of Ripley County. The Board of Directors is focusing on two forms of wealth in 2021; the environment, and arts and culture. One way the community foundation is being a champion for the local environment is through a program called “A Greener Tomorrow.” With this program, RCCF hopes to raise awareness for the natural beauty that surrounds us, to preserve the current environmental assets, and to plant species that will sustain the local habitat for future generations. In April of this year, with the assistance of a committee, RCCF distributed over 300 trees throughout Ripley County. All trees were indigenous to the Hoosier State, which included Oak, Red Bud, Elm, Poplar, and 15 other species, and were planted with the assistance of Hillenbrand employees, Milan High School Landscape Management Class, Oldenburg Academy students, and multiple Park and Town Managers. It is the hope that these trees will help sustain the local habitat for generations to come.

RCCF continued working on the environment by planting two pollinator gardens at local schools. The goal of a pollinator garden is to attract bees, butterflies, birds, and more. Students planted Salvia, Butterfly Bushes, Achillea Moonshine, and more to make this goal a reality.

Milan Elementary students planting pollinator gardens. (Photo provided) 

Oldenburg Academy students planted the first pollinator garden in mid-May, where students took the lead in the project. Students found the location, designed the layout, prepped the area, planted, and then finished by mulching. For the second pollinator garden, planted at Milan Elementary, students in grades K-3 learned the basics of sowing a plant and the importance of providing food for butterflies and honeybees. Students will have the opportunity to see the garden grow and will be able to look back on what they accomplished.

Amy Streator, Executive Director of the Ripley County Community Foundation stated, “We hope that this project will instill confidence in children and adults alike to take action to improve their community. Small actions can have large impacts on the environment especially when all of those small actions are pooled together toward a common goal.”

“It was a great opportunity in my first week,” said intern Grace Vanderbur. “The kids were able to be hands-on with the project, and a lot of them will get to watch that same garden grow alongside them as they progress through school. That’s the beauty of having it right in the backyard, so to speak.”

The Ripley County Community Foundation has received a $50,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish an endowment fund that will allow RCCF to invest in projects and programs aimed at expanding and protecting the natural landscape by increasing appreciation for, improvements to, and use of the natural environment that surrounds us. The Ripley County Community Foundation needs to raise $50,000 in matching donations to formally establish the “A Greener Tomorrow Fund.” Donations made to the “A Greener Tomorrow Endowment Fund” will receive a $1 for $1 match. To be eligible to receive the matching funds, donations must be received on or before December 31, 2021, and will be paid on a first-come, first-served basis. You can donate online at rccfonline.org, or by mailing a check to 13 E. George Street Suite B, Batesville, IN 47006 or by calling the office at (812) 933-1098.

(Ripley County Community Foundation press release)