Since 2001, the Eagle Creek Park Foundation has invested more than $3 million into environmental projects and programs throughout the park by way of in-kind donations, membership, and sponsorship. Every initiative supports our efforts to promote, preserve, protect, and enhance Eagle Creek Park.
Outdoor Bird Migration Game at the Ornithology Center
The Ornithology Center hosts a variety of programs in the classroom, but naturalists wanted to design an interactive experience for youth by building an outdoor migration game. The purpose of this educational area is to engage the physical aspect of what children learn about migration in the classroom. The game mimics a flyway demonstrating different hazards birds might face en route to their breeding ground, which includes ropes, balance beams, climbing walls, streams and more! The Foundation gave $4,500 to support this environmental program on top of $11,000 raised by Cummins.
The park’s 27-year-old signs needed to be replaced, so we supplied Indy Parks with $15,000 to order and install newer sturdier signage for visitors.
Earth Discovery Center Geothermal Pond
Eagle Creek Park was awarded a $50,000 3Mgives Eco Grant to build a geothermal pond behind the Earth Discovery Center, which the outflow is driven by the source of heating and cooling for the facility. However, construction required more funds and the Eagle Creek Park Foundation was able to give $30,000 to supplement the project.
The new addition adds another dimension to the Earth Discovery Center’s robust programming by creating an educational habitat adjacent to the building, which allows for a new, accessible, and immersive pond study program. It’s large enough to accommodate a school group of 30-40 kids, and allow them to dip-net for frogs tadpoles, and aquatic insects. This adds to their studies and analysis in the center’s wet lab.
Ornithology Center Raptor Training
The Foundation sent Ornithology Center Naturalists Anne Cecere and Brittany Davis to a four-day raptor training program Oct. 8–11, 2013 at the well-known University of Minnesota Raptor Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Anne and Brittany joined a group of 20 educators from across the U.S. and Canada to receive 12 hours of clinical and hands-on medical training, and 10 hours of training focused on their educational birds using operant conditioning. They each performed necropsy on dead raptors, inserted feeding tubes, wrapped broken wings, treated bumblefoot, diagnosed zoonosis, and administered fluids, medical check-ups, and eye exams. Additionally, they prepared the diet for 20 different raptor species.
By touring the raptor facility, they were also happy to learn that the Ornithology Center’s newly renovated mews (cages) were right on track for Eagle Creek’s captive birds. The pair brought back some new ideas of perches, tethers, and enrichment toys to implement at the Ornithology Center, which Foundation members also helped fund.
“We’re eager to start re-training a couple of our birds with some new techniques we learned,” Davis said. “Now I feel like I’m ready for anything! We feel completely rejuvenated and ready to take on new challenges!”
Fitness Trail Renovation
The Foundation provided $9,200 (half of the total cost) to replace the 20 old exercise stations with new equipment, along with signage supplied by Indy Parks. Visitors can jump on the trail near the 56th Street entrance, and enjoy a workout with 32 self-guided exercises, along with some help from signage on how to monitor your heart rate.
Renovation of the Nature Center into the Ornithology Center
With the assistance of generous grants from Amos Butler Audubon Society, Nature Center & Sanctuary, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and Wild Birds Unlimited, the Foundation provided funding for all supplies needed (except for carpet) to completely renovate the old Feldman Nature Center into the Eagle Creek Ornithology Center.
Marina Concert Stage
Eagle Creek Park’s “Jazz on the Point” music series at the Marina first gained popularity in 2006, so naturally we wanted to see it become a permanent music venue complete with a central stage to facilitate musicians. Park staff and volunteers assisted us with the construction, and the stage is also available to rent as well.
Now, Indy Parks also presents the acoustical “In Concert with Nature” series, which takes place in conjunction with the jazz series on rotation every Wednesday evening at 6:30pm from June through August. It’s a great spot right to unwind by the water mid-week, enjoy a picnic (or watch from the water!), and appreciate “natural” talent and tunes. Concerts and parking are free with park admission, and concessions are also available.
Construction of the Earth Discovery Center
The old park visitor center drew around 40,000 guests per year, half of which were school-aged children from kindergarten to fifth grade. And at the time, the park offered a variety of learning programs, but only had the capacity to hold one class at a time. With this in mind, the Foundation sought to design a new Earth Discovery Center to better serve youth, and anyone else interested in learning more about nature and science during their visit to the park.
We formed focus groups and queried local educators on what type of facility would best suit their needs. Soon, we created a capital campaign to construct a new nature center and cover the cost of programming. Other key contributors were Lilly Endowment, Inc., Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, and the city of Indianapolis.
- Development of a fully accessible playground
- Construction of wildlife observation and presentation decks
- Establishment of three year-round art shows
- Development and improvements to wildlife habitats and educational exhibits
- Construction of the Edesess Trail
- Restoration of the wetlands
- Development of cross-country ski trails
- Establishment of an eagle statuary
- Implementation and updates to Eagle Creek Park’s 1997 Master Plan