Blue Heron Ministries

An opportunity to be stewards of our Lord's creation within the context of community

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Summer Fen Sharings – by Nate Simons

As many of you know, I have been working part time for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Nature Preserves as long as Blue Heron Ministries has been around. Rich Dunbar, regional ecologist, offered me a “safety net” years ago just as Blue Heron Ministries was forming. I have held onto that net for this many years, not because I still need it, but because I have fallen in love with the work I get to do on the finest of natural areas that Indiana has to offer. Stewarding the fens and oak woodlands in northeast Indiana is usually done alone. At times I wish I had someone with which to share the experiences…to “ooh and aah” along with me. So frequently I take a moment to wipe my sweaty brow and proverbially stop and smell the roses. I take a picture on my mobile phone of something that arrests my attention and then send it along with a brief text description or question to my two grandsons.

I thought I would take a moment and pass some images along to you as well. So pretend you are my 10-year old and 8-year old grandsons who live in the big city hours away. Receive these images, pretend you are young, and comment appropriately.

1.a marsh blazingstar2...rare purple fringed orchid that I almost mistook for...3.... purple loosestrife that I was supposed to spray.unknown grassland bird nest free of its fledglingstwo monarch caterpillars wondering who will get last bitequaking aspen cut by beaverorb weaver's work in the early morning dewhummingbird moth nectaring on a wild bergamotcouple of ripe blackberries waiting to be pluckedan antler shed left on a sphagnum moss hummuckwalking barefoot in cool springwaters

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Update on Headacres Farm Acquisition

lupine vp

We are very excited about the progress towards the Headacres Farm addition to our Badger Barrens Nature Preserve! Early this summer, BHM reached out to partners and supporters requesting assistance in raising $60,000 towards the purchase. An anonymous private donor has generously pledged a $20,000 matching gift, and we are close to meeting that match!

The most recent donation was a very generous gift of $5,000 from the Ralph E. Taylor Conservation Fund, through the Steuben County Community Foundation. That puts our current donations at nearly $15,000! Once we meet our goal towards the matching funds, we will still need to raise $20,000 to complete the acquisition cost.

Would you consider helping us meet our goal? Donations can be sent to Blue Heron Ministries, Inc., 2955 W. Orland Rd., Angola, IN 46703. Please note “Badger Barrens addition” in the memo line. You can also donate online.

Thank you!

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Help Spread the Lupines! – from Nate Simons

Last month, Bridget Harrison, director of Clear Lake Township Land Conservancy, called to inform me of a wonderful opportunity for Blue Heron Ministries. It seems that word has spread that we are in the process of acquiring 24 acres of land adjacent to and west of our Badger Barrens Sanctuary.

acquisitions c

Badger Barrens Sanctuary, located northeast of Clear Lake (Fremont, IN) features a sand prairie restoration with abundant wild blue lupine. Additions to the sanctuary include lots on the shore of Mirror Lake that are home to an open, oak woodland replete with Indiana’s largest population of the State-endangered pale vetchling peavine. A conservation easement of property to the south links another lake, Lake Anne. The Clear Lake Township Land Conservancy recently purchased land to the west of the 24-acre acquisition project. So, when this phase of the project is completed nearly 60 acres of land rich in biological diversity and natural beauty will be preserved and restored for the enjoyment of area hikers and for the benefit of myriad native plants and animals.

Late in 2018 we received a promise from the President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust Fund to partner with us to assist with the acquisition in the amount of $60,000. That means that we need to raise the remaining $60,000 to complete the $120,000 purchase.

Back to the telephone conversation. An anonymous donor and friend of both organizations proposed an offer to us…a challenge match. If Blue Heron Ministries would raise $20,000 toward the cost of acquisition of the 24-acre addition, the donor would match the amount. What good news! What generosity! What an opportunity!

Please help us raise funds to meet the match. No deadline has been specified by the donor, but closing on the 24-acre property will likely occur in July. A one-time gift to Blue Heron Ministries will be accepted with appreciation. Another option is to send installments in the form of a monthly pledge. Both types of gifts are tax exempt donations that would be followed by an acknowledgment letter.

Please send contributions to Blue Heron Ministries, Inc., 2955 W. Orland Rd., Angola, IN 46703. Please note “Badger Barrens addition” in the memo line. Donations can also be made online here.

If you have questions regarding the project or how to assist with acquisition, please call Nate Simons, 260/316-2498. With your help, we will be one step closer to protecting a much desired connecting piece in the picture of cooperation between two area conservation organizations…and help spread the lupines!

Thank you!

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Continuing Education for BHM- by Fred Wooley

The Stewardship Network is a collection of organizations, government agencies, non-profits, for-profits, and individuals who work to protect, restore, and manage natural areas. The network pools resources, expertise, and energy to help all members succeed in their endeavors.


TSN is based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan and serves mostly the Great Lakes Region. Their publications describe their efforts as “for nearly two decades The Stewardship Network has been defining, refining, and advancing the methods on which successful, community-based conservation collaboratives are built.”


One of their most prominent vehicles to do this is their annual two-day conference in East Lansing, “The Science, Practice, and Art of Restoring Native Ecosystems.” Always in the heart of January and winter, this year’s was January 12-13.

BHM has sent a team to the conference since conferences began about a decade ago, as we continue to seek information, new ideas and techniques, and kindred relationships in the field of native land restoration and care. This year, Executive Director Nathan Simons and Blue Crew members Phillip Bieberich, John Brittenham, Josh Hall, Gary Woppelhurst, and Fred Wooley attended the conference.


Each day featured a keynote speaker followed by four sets of seven concurrent sessions. Programs are conducted by fellow fieldworkers and students and professors from academia. A strong theme running through the 2018 conference was Native American interests and projects on tribal and public grounds. Conference programs ran the gamut of addressing regional ecosystem needs to practices on homeowner and landscape gardens.


As with all conferences of this nature, each set of sessions had two or more of interest for each of us attending. We selected those of personal interest and found that we attended different sessions giving us a broader spectrum of the best practices we can bring back to our work with Blue Heron Ministries.