Valparaiso – Shirley Heinze Land Trust (SHLT) was established in 1981 as a charitable trust to preserve and protect the unique ecosystems of the Indiana Dunes region. It manages nearly 1,300 acres in Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties. SHLT preserves these natural areas for present and future generations to enjoy.

SHLT advocates landscaping with native plants to counteract displacement of local ecosystems due to massive development. Each year they host an award ceremony to honor institutional landscapers that use native plants in their projects.

The 2013 winners were  Friends of Robinson Lake in Hobart, Indiana Department of Transportation (LaPorte Region), Lake County MS4 Stormwater District, Valparaiso Parks Department, and Nathan Hale Elementary School in Whiting.

“The annual luncheon affords us an opportunity to engage the business community and representatives of municipalities in areas that we serve. They have become vital partners in our work, and we look forward to keeping them informed,” said Margaret Williford, president of Shirley Heinze Land Trust.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson spoke at the 2013 awards luncheon. Freeman-Wilson and her administration have been very supportive of Shirley Heinze Land Trust’s efforts to protect natural land in Gary. It’s a good example of how public-private partnerships can benefit the broader community.

To view some of the applicants and winners of the Bringing Nature Home Awards, visit:


Submitted by Kathy Sipple