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Blatchley Nature Study Club Invites Community to 100th

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
The Blatchley Nature Study Club sanctuary, at 125 Boulder Drive in Noblesville, will celebrate its
Centennial year in April.

I encourage nature lovers to save the date for Blatchley Nature Study Club’s Spring Wildflower Walk and Centennial Celebration in April.

I’ve been to the grounds a handful of times, especially in the springtime when there is much nature to enjoy.

The Clubhouse is located at 125 Boulder Drive, off of Edith Avenue, north of the historic Potter’s Bridge off of Cumberland Road in Noblesville.

A hidden gem in our community, the 15-acre sanctuary offers nature trails that wind through the property with trails overlooking the White River as well as ravines along Fox Prairie Creek., which snakes through the grounds.

The sanctuary offers some of the most diverse collection of wildflowers and plants in Indiana, according to the Centennial program.

Rick Towle, Noblesville Middle School science teacher and president of the Blatchley Nature Study Club in Noblesville, was the first to write me about the 2022 celebration, asking me to share with the public and invite the community to guided tours to see some of the most diverse varieties of wildflowers in Indiana, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on two Saturdays, April 16 and 30. (The first tour will showcase early bloomers, and the second tour late bloomers. So make plans to attend both if you love nature.)

“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead our club of nature enthusiasts into the next 100-year chapter of our esteemed organization,” Towle offered as a message in the Centennial program. “…The things we have accomplished during my tenure as president continue to amaze me, and truly illustrate the dedication and energy needed to live up to the mission of our club.”’

He wrote, “My message this year is one of insight, passion and determination … all intended to rekindle the importance of what we try to achieve through our club activities, programs and goals.”

Emma St. Dennis of Noblesville is vice president of the Blatchley club and also shared a wealth of information with me about the club and its history. She recently found out that the club members actually laid out the plans for the trees that are in Forest Park, she said.

This year marks the 100th year of the nature study club, which was founded on April 8, 1922, by Dr. Earl Brooks. The club, which is made up of individuals who share a love of nature, changed its name to The W.S. Blatchley Club to honor Indiana’s greatest naturalist, Dr. Willis Stanley Blatchley (1859-1940). The Blatchley Nature Study Club was incorporated as a nonprofit on Nov. 12, 1941. Then Brooks deeded 15 acres of land to the club for use as a sanctuary and on which to build a clubhouse on March 8, 1963. The Clubhouse (built with a generous monetary gift from Eli Lilly family) and the sanctuary was dedicated on July 18, 1965.

Each spring, the club leads Wildflower Walks, inviting the community to attend.

Just over the weekend, club members gathered for a cleanup of the clubhouse interior. And this Thursday, the club will have a pitch-in dinner at the clubhouse for the IU Scholarship Presentation featuring Haiz Webb, Blatchley’s scholarship recipient, a fourth-year student on a five-year graduation plan pursuing dual Bachelor of Science degrees in biology and comprehensive design with minors in animal behavior, environmental science and music, as well as the Hutton Honors Notation. (Annually, the Biology Department of Indiana University awards a Blatchley Nature Study Scholarship to a deserving student. Since 1989, 33 scholarships have been given out.)

Members will gather again for an outdoor cleanup at 9 a.m. April 9 on the grounds of the club.

Monthly meetings offer special programs that teach club members about all aspects through presentations, which this year feature: “Willis S. Blatchley” history by Chris Wirth at 7 p.m. April 28 (at the actual Centennial monthly club meeting); “Owls of Indiana” by Mark Booth at 7 p.m. May 26; “Birding in South Africa,” by Doug Vine at 7 p.m. June 23; “Birding in Panama,” by Rob Ripma, Becky Heck and Mary Kay Pitts at 7 p.m. July 28; a Butterfly Walk field trip led by Sherry and Phil Cartridge at 10 a.m. Aug. 13; “Adventures in Bird Training,” by Jenna McElroy at 7 p.m. Aug. 25; Blatchley Sanctuary Cleanup at 9 a.m. Sept. 10; “Antarctic Field Research,” by Dan Boritt at 7 p.m. Sept. 22; Fall Hike and Bonfire at 4 p.m. Oct. 8; “Living with Coyotes,” by Jessica Merking, 7 p.m. Oct. 27; “Why Our Rare Plants are Rare,” by Scott Namestnik at 7 p.m. Nov. 17; and a Potluck Dinner Christmas Party at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 15.

Members are encouraged to propose new members for the club with a written application.

Memberships range from $5 for ages 18 and younger to a $500 individual life membership.

I expect to write more about the Blatchley Nature Study Club in the coming weeks as the Celebration draws nearer. So save the dates: April 16 and 30.– Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com