Aubrey with School Groups












    Kids today are spending half as much time outdoors as they did 20 years ago (1) yet several studies have shown that children need plenty of time outdoors in order to be happy, healthy, and responsible individuals. Just as concerning, the average American child spends 44 hours per week staring at some kind of electronic screen (2) which has led to the appearance of what some are calling ‘nature-deficit disorder’ in many children. “Kids have lost their connection to the land and are trapped in a world with sixty ounce sodas, addictive salty/sugary snacks, and screens on every side,” says Kyle King, Community Outreach Coordinator at CEC. “It’s important to lead kids to a different world where they can wade with the tadpoles, run without restraint, and feel the mud between their toes.”
    Along with expanding its outdoor programming opportunities, Cope Environmental Center, located in Centerville, Indiana, has been reaching out across the state to ensure that every child in Indiana is within 60 miles of a ‘partner’ nature center who will provide environmental education and creative outdoor experiences. So far, fifteen nature centers, stretching from Wesselman Nature Society in Evansville to Woodlawn Nature Center in Elkhart, have agreed to become official partners in Indiana’s “Bicentennial Nature Center Network.” Conner Prairie is the latest to join, which began leading environmental programs a few years ago. On Friday, June 19th, the network received endorsement as an official Bicentennial project.
    One Wednesday a month, the nature centers get to know one another through a conference call, and this fall, they will all come together for their first ‘Nature Center Summit.’ This gathering will function as a pre-conference to the annual EEAI Conference (Environmental Education Association of Indiana) at the Indiana State Dunes. The next summit in 2016 will take place locally at Earlham College. “We envision this partnership leading to stronger relationships with teachers and schools by using shared environmental curriculum. We are thrilled to have this network working together to help facilitate experiences that help more kids encounter nature!” says Alison Zajdel, CEC’s Executive Director.
    This shared curriculum is in the last stages of completion and will be launched by all the nature center partners by the fall of 2016. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is also playing a critical role in this project by hosting the curriculum on their website alongside of their “robust existing digital programs” such as Nature Rocks and Nature Works. TNC advocates for conservation efforts around the world and includes “more than 600 scientists, located in all 50 U.S. states and more than 35 countries.” TNC hopes the project “will inspire experiences with nature and build advocates for conservation.” Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources is also supporting the group by leading Bicentennial land conservation efforts across the state.
    Interested in learning how you can help with this project or any other initiative to get more kids plugged into the outdoors? You can contact Kyle King at 765.855.3188 or k.king@copeenvironmental.org. Cope Center looks forward to hearing from you!
    (1) “The Changing Times of American Youth: 1983-2003” (Juster, F. Thomas et al., 2004). University of Michigan.
    (2) (Study: Rideout, Victoria et al. (2005). Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.)

  • CEC enters Construction Stage for New Sustainable Education Center

    Cope Environmental Center (CEC) is entering into the construction stage for a 6000 square- foot new sustainable environmental education center, which is the first Living Building Challenge project registered in Indiana. The LBC certification requires that the most advanced measures of sustainability be employed and is composed of seven performance areas or “Petals” of Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty. These Petals collectively comprise 20 imperatives. For example, to be a net zero energy facility the building must demonstrate that energy is harnessed only from on-site renewables such as wind, solar, or earth to meet all of the heating, cooling and electrical needs. Many facilities strive to attain net-zero-energy but the true performance of their buildings may be overstated and true net energy buildings are rare.

    In addition, LBC certification requires all water to be sourced on site (wells or rainwater capture) and waste water to be treated on site. There are also limits to sprawling development and expectations of inclusion of “Beauty, Spirit and Inspiration + Education” to insure that the renewable energy system is incorporated into an attractive and inspiring building. The building must be occupied for one year with zero net energy and meet the other criteria to obtain the certification. [See the LBC website for certification criteria.]

    The building will include a dedicated classroom for hands-on learning.

    The new LCB-certified building is expected to serve as the “trailhead” for Indiana’s Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area for thousands of students and visitors to learn about conservation and sustainability. Currently, in addition to hundreds of other visitors, all students in the 2nd grade in the Richmond area are required to participate in an environmental education unit at the CEC and their goal is to reach 50% of elementary children in Wayne County. The LCB-certified construction will not only host bicentennial activities but it will be important in extending Indiana’s sustainability footprint to additional natural, protected and educational areas within the state.

    Written by Carolyn Vann, http://sustainableindiana2016.org/update-on-cope-environmental-center-plans-for-a-new-sustainable-building/

  • Wine & Beer Competitions featured at Gala 2016

    Homebrew Competition Flyer





  • A Medicine Walk & Free Yoga Sessions

    Medicine Walk at Cope Environmental Center
    with Guide, Teri Wiggans

    When: Saturday, July 11, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
    What to bring: Water, a journal or notebook, pen and camp chair
    To Register: Call Aubrey at Cope Environmental Center: 765.855.3188
    Cost: Non-members $15 and Members $10 (all fees will go to Cope Environmental Center)

    If you are looking for a break from the busyness of daily life, join us for a restorative, playful day in a stunning natural setting at Cope Environmental Center. A Medicine Walk is a way to mark a point of change in your life or to seek insight or support with specific questions or difficulties. It can be particularly helpful if you are:
    • In a transition in your life
    • Desiring a powerful way to explore particular issues/difficulties
    • Ready to slow down and reflect on what is meaningful to you
    Part of the day is spent in solitude with a specific task in nature and part is spent together in group council where we will learn about the Native American Four Directions, clarify each person’s intentions for the day, learn ways to seek guidance and healing with nature and share “your story” with others upon return to council.

    Teri Wiggans has been a guide for 4 years with WomanQuest, a non-profit organization which leads Medicine Walks and introduces participants to a 5 day vision quest in the mountains of North Carolina. She has currently re-located to Richmond and is pleased to be able to work with Cope Environmental Center to offer the Medicine Walk.

    We also have 3 free sessions of yoga available at CEC this summer led and sponsored by Beatree Yoga!

    beatree yoga flyer banner



  • Cope Team Member, Mary Jones, Says Farewell



    Mary! FarewellHow did you first find out about CEC, and what has continued to attract you to the place?
    I volunteered a couple of times at Cope Center as a student and Bonner Scholar at Earlham College. As a graduate, I wanted to stay in Richmond and Cope Center offered me a chance to use my degree in Environmental Studies locally. At the time, I had no idea what a profound influence the Center would have on me! I have enjoyed working with CEC’s incredible staff and board and partnering with so many organizations in the community from Morrisson-Reeves Library to Just Us Kids Outdoors (JUKO). The energy and willingness to work together to help improve life in our community is contagious and powerful. It has kept me going and it will be hard to leave behind!

    In what ways have you seen CEC expand upon its mission of teaching environmental sustainability?
    CEC has grown by leaps and bounds just in the three years I have been on staff! Not only is the Center on the cusp of constructing a new facility through the Living Building Challenge, it’s education will play a pivotal role in Indiana’s Upcoming Bicentennial Celebration. Stay tuned for more news on that! CEC has also deepened its education within Wayne County and beyond in my time here. Several school districts now have partnerships with the Center that allow certain grades to experience CEC’s programs four times during the school year. As one of the educators on staff, it has been a pleasure to develop meaningful relationships with local kids as we learn together about the environment that sustains human life.

    What did you learn the most while being here?
    I have learned about the power of partnership. An organization like Cope Center could never have the impact it has without the support of our community sponsors (shout out to First Bank Richmond and Reid Hospital & Healthcare Services, just to name a few!), hard-working volunteer army, and the help from other organizations with similar goals. Together, CEC is much more effective than 8 staff members working in a vacuum by ourselves. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to raise environmental awareness!   

    What degree are you pursuing, and how do you hope to use it?

    I am pursuing a Masters of Environmental Justice at the University of Michigan. I am excited to learn more about how environmental issues overlap with issues of public health, including access to safe greenspaces, fresh food and more. I hope this experience will give me a broader perspective that will help me become a better environmental advocate in my future career.

    You were the founder of the Get Outside–Play Program, a summer playing challenge for kids. Why were you passionate about starting it?

    As the grant-writer on staff, scary statistics about our children’s health and wellbeing come across my desk on a daily basis. Many issues our youngest community members face, such as increased rates of obesity, anxiety and depression, ADD/ADHD, vitamin D deficiency, even near-sightedness and more have been traced back (in part) to not spending enough time outdoors. This mountain of evidence has shown that kids need to get outside! Through Get Outside – PLAY! CEC hopes to inspire kids to develop the simple, healthy habit of just being outdoors and having FUN! I think the more kids we have climbing trees, swinging in the park, and biking around their neighborhood, the better J


    What did you take from serving the Centerville, Richmond, and Wayne County region?

    I have learned that small communities are fantastic places to work, especially for young people like me. Where else can you start a career, and within a few years, know all sorts of key community players from politicians, to business owners, to leaders in various non-profits? It’s an environment ripe for making a meaningful impact on a community. I also enjoy seeing people I have met through Cope Center and other organizations I’ve been involved in (like Sprout of Control and Townsend Community Center) around town at various community events, restaurants, even the grocery store! I will definitely miss those daily connections in Ann Arbor.

    Do you think you would ever work at CEC or similar organization again?
    Absolutely! Cope Environmental Center will always have a special place in my heart. I would welcome the opportunity to work for another organization that has as much passion about environmental stewardship and is staffed with such amazing people!

    You’re from Texas! What is now your favorite Midwest food?

    I love casseroles! They are combination of all things wonderful

    Thank you Mary for all of your hard work and time spent with us! You will be missed by us and the whole community!

    Interested in filling Mary’s position as the Program and Development Coordinator? Have experience with fundraising while also programming with kids? Apply today!

    CEC Prog_Dev Coordinator-page-001



  • CEC Searches for Program & Development Coordinator

    Interested in becoming a member of the CEC team? Have experience with fundraising while also programming with kids? Apply today!

    CEC Prog_Dev Coordinator-page-001

  • Over 300 Volunteer on Earth Day!








    Around 300 freshman from Richmond High School came to volunteer at Cope Environmental Center on Earth Day 2015! They worked very hard in some chilly temperatures and accomplished much! They planted several hundred trees, removed invasive plants and brush piles from across the property, mulched trails, and prepared the garden beds and the blueberry and pumpkin patches! The students were organized in 15 work groups and rotated across the campus. It was the largest volunteer day that Cope has ever hosted and everyone agreed that it was a success. To see pictures from the event, you can go to our Facebook Album.

  • Celebrating 95 w/ a Historic Groundbreaking!

    Helen Cope Helps Break Ground for New Education & Orientation Bu

    On Friday, April 10th, at 3:30pm, approximately 250 people came to celebrate Helen Cope’s 95th Birthday in conjunction with a groundbreaking ceremony for a new educational and orientation building at CEC in her honor. Both events were historical–one celebrated the life of a teacher and pioneer for conservation and sustainability in our region, and the other began the first ‘Living Building Challenge’ project in Indiana. Presently, there are only 6 certified ‘Living Buildings’ in the world.
    What exactly is a certified ‘Living Building?’ The International Living Future Institute defines one as “a demonstration that the built environment can actually help restore the natural environment.” It is a way to move the market forward in environmental design and tackle global challenges such as growing energy and water demands without compromising the health of people or fragile ecosystems. The new building will also serve as the official trail head of the upcoming Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area—a new recreation area that will include a children’s park and possibly a system of trails connecting Cope Environmental Center down to Whitewater State Park. This newly designated conservation area will not only protect East-Central Indiana, an area that has long been identified as “undeserved in public lands with biologically significant assets,” but it will also be headed by a new species of building that thrives with nature’s ecosystems rather than against them.

    helen-228x300CEC is excited to use the design of the building as a teaching tool, and it is fitting that the life of a teacher was celebrated in conjunction with the ground breaking of it! You can find pictures from the event by visiting our Facebook Page.

  • Toddler Time is June 17th!

    June 17th – “You Can ‘Count’ on Nature!” Reading: Look Whooo’s Counting (by Susie MacDonald)

    You’re never too young to enjoy nature! Join us for monthly Toddler Time where kids explore the outdoors of CEC through a story, hands-on activities, crafts, and a hike. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Be sure to dress for the weather! Toddler Time happens rain or shine :)

    Toddler Time is every 3rd Wednesday from March-October 2015, 10-11am, $3 per Child.


  • BACKYARD DYES (Workshop)- July 9th

    “Creating the Colors of Nature with Natural Dyes”  $7/person

    Join Sam from Ply Fiber Arts for this introductory workshop on the world of natural dyes. You will learn the basics of sourcing dyes, many of which can be grown in your own garden or found during an afternoon hike in the woods, as well as creating your first dyepot. Natural dyes can be used for dyeing fabric, yarn, fiber, paper, and more in a sustainable manner. @ CEC Thursday, July 9th, 6:00-8:00pm

    play fiber arts