The Notre Dame Environmental Change and St. Joseph County Parks received the Great Lakes Park, Facility, and Recreation Program Award from the Great Lakes Park Training Institute (GLPTI) last Tuesday. The award recognizes the University's collaboration with St. Patrick's County Park, which is home to the Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND-LEEF).
GLPTI annually presents the award in recognition of park facilities and programs completed within the last five years that represent the cutting edge of the parks and recreation facilities, programs and partnerships. Award-winning projects represent innovative, cost effective design; demonstrate the utilization of community input and resources; and provide a significant impact on their community and agency.
Located five-miles from campus, ND-LEEF is a globally unique research faciility that houses two constructed experimental watersheds, each consisting of an interconnected pond, stream, and wetland. Scientists use ND-LEEF to conduct experiments in a field-like setting but in a more controlled environment than one can find in nature.
ND-LEEF was born out of a close partnership with the County Park to provide an opportunity for scientific research on water quality and habitats, as well as environmental outreach to schools and other park visitors from St. Joseph County and surrounding communities. The award-winning Morrison Family Education and Outreach Pavilion located at ND-LEEF serves as the hub for hands-on education such as Science Girls Ambitious About Learning Science.
Evie Kirkwood, director of St. Joseph County Parks and Brett Peters, assistant director of ND-LEEF accepted the GLPTI award at Pokagon State Park in Angola, Indiana.
"We are honored to receive this award in partnership with St. Joseph County Parks," said Peters. "Our team is excited to advance the capabilties of ND-LEEF and continue working with the Park to interactively share environmental research with the Michiana community."
GLPTI is sponsored by the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands and the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies at Indiana University. Eppley and the Department bring together experts in the field and the university to provide attendees opportunities to discuss issues and techniques in the field of parks and recreation.