What a spectacular year 2014 has been!
On January 1, Limberlost hosted the Adams County Christmas Bird Count for the first time. Volunteers from 6 counties came to help record populations of Gene’s feathered friends. We saw several exciting species including Bald Eagles, the rare and elusive Short-eared Owls, Northern Harriers and so many more interesting species. Limberlost and Loblolly have quickly become some of the best birding areas in Indiana. Throughout the year, countless exciting bird species were reported in the Limberlost/Loblolly area, including the Greater White-fronted Goose, American Black Duck, Black-necked Stilts, King Rail, Bonaparte’s Gull, Sandhill Cranes, Gray-cheeked Thrush and Bay-breasted Warbler. Is it any wonder Geneva was chosen as Indiana’s first Bird Town?
The romantics gathered at Limberlost on February 14 for “Romance of the Limberlost”. Wine, a Gene movie and a program about animal courtship - the perfect Valentine’s Day!
The “Owls: Superheroes of the Night” program on March 2 proved to be quite popular, packing the conference room three times over!
Alexandra’s Outreach Program was launched, and several schools have been reached. It has been particularly humbling and rewarding to be accepted into the Amish schools and community. We have done three Amish outreach programs this year, reaching 124 students and 11 adults.
The Easter egg hunt, as always, was very well attended and full of excitement! The race for the golden eggs was on! Over 110 children and almost 130 adults packed the site!
We installed signs, both modern and vintage. One is a modern digital sign informing passers-by of coming events, while the other is a quaint, vintage-style sign reminiscent of the signage in Gene’s day.
On Independence Day, we celebrated with our national symbol: the Bald Eagle. The attendees enjoyed a rare close-up look at a live Bald Eagle and they learned more about this majestic bird.
We were honored to host the participants of the Flat 50 Bicycle Race in June. Over 400 bicyclists enjoyed the sights, sounds and hospitality of Limberlost. The Trailblazer race series brought out even more athletes with the 2K, 3K and 4K runs.
The Bluegrass Jams (on the third Sunday of July, August and September) were a huge hit! This is the 12th year that Randy has hosted the Jams. The Jams brought musicians and music lovers from all backgrounds and places to join together in perfect harmony.
The Chimney Swifts were happy to cooperate and put on a breathtaking show for the Chimney Swift program in August. As we watched, dozens of Swifts performed their aerial acrobatics, spiraling like a feathered tornado into the chimney below.
“Geneva’s Geneva”, a celebration of Gene Stratton-Porter’s life, allowed visitors to take a trip back in time. Participants enjoyed the wine-tasting and live musical entertainment, and strolled a timeline featuring significant events that occurred in Gene’s life while she lived in Geneva.
On the 100th anniversary of the death of the last Passenger Pigeon, Limberlost installed a spectacular display telling the cautionary tale: no matter how abundant or strong a species may seem, it can disappear in the blink of an eye if we do not act properly. Sought-after speakers and authors Joel Greenberg and Sherrida Woodley lent their voices to the message with thought-provoking presentations.
The movie matinee featuring two movies based on Gene Stratton-Porter novels (the 1934 Girl of the Limberlost and the 1940 Laddie) brought Gene’s written words to life.
The log cabin is getting its youthful glow back, thanks to Kenny Schwartz and his beautiful restoration of the logs paid for by the Indiana State Museum.
The nighttime marsh programs were especially popular this year. Curt did a fantastic job introducing crowds to the magic that you can only experience when visiting this special habitat in the evening.
The new Rent-a-Naturalist program has been well received. Curt is available for tailor made programs and tours, and with his expertise, his skills are in high demand! He has also been writing a popular monthly column for the Berne Tri-Weekly: “Limberlost Notebook”.
The hikes, tours, safari and “Creature Features” throughout the year were quite popular and participants always came away with a newfound sense of awe and wonder at the beauty surrounding them at Limberlost and Loblolly. Curt, Randy and Bill have a rare skill of instilling in visitors a lifelong love and appreciation of history and nature. We are so fortunate to have them!
Our own Terri Gorney uncovered several treasure troves of research about Gene Stratton-Porter and her friends, including Ray Boze (“Freckles”), Carl Faille (Gene’s “Painter Man”), and Jane Brooks Hine (the other Indiana Bird Woman). Terri’s unmatched research skills and her willingness to share her findings have given all of us rare insights into the life of Gene Stratton-Porter, and her book, “Jane Brooks Hine”, should be on everyone’s book shelf.
Terri wasn’t the only author in our midst this year. Curt wrote a must-have book (“Why I Loved a Giant Rat: Adventures of an Animal Man”) that will make you laugh until you’re hyperventilating!
To no one’s surprise, Bill was named the Geneva Citizen of the Year. Bill’s contributions to the community and to Limberlost would fill volumes!
We welcomed Ben Hess to the Limberlost family this year. Ben is our new east-central ecologist. Tom Swinford became the assistant director of nature preserves.
We’ll be ending the year in celebration with “Limberlost Christmas” (December 13) and “Limberlost New Year’s Eve” (December 31). Join us for these family-friendly events as we celebrate all of the wonders of the Limberlost with you - our friends and supporters.
Thank you for making 2014 a remarkable year!