St. Joseph County Parks and the Environmental Change Initiative at the University of Notre Dame received the Great Lakes Park, Facility, and Recreation Program Award at the Great Lakes Park Training Institute at Pokagon State Park in Angola on March 2, 2017. The award was presented for ND-LEEF (Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility) at St. Patrick’s County Park. Evie Kirkwood, director of the County Parks, and Brett Peters, assistant director of ND-LEEF accepted the award.
ND-LEEF is a globally unique research facility 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 to provide opportunities for scientific research and environmental outreach to school groups and other park visitors from St. Joseph County and surrounding communities. The award-winning Morrison Family Education and Outreach Pavilion within ND-LEEF serves as the hub for hands-on education such as Science Sunday, Girls Ambitious About Learning Science and other programs at the County Park and ND-LEEF.
The Great Lakes Park Training Institute, now in its 70th year, annually presents this award in recognition of park facilities and programs that represent the cutting edge of parks and recreation facilities, programs and partnerships that provide a significant impact on their community and agency.