Wesselman Woods Receives Grant From Vanderburgh County Commissioners


    Wesselman Woods Receives Grant From Vanderburgh County Commissioners

    JANUARY 23, 2023

     Evansville, IN – Vanderburgh County Commissioners Cheryl Musgrave and Ben Shoulders visited Wesselman Woods (WW) this week and presented $135,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to the WW staff and Little Eco-Scholars. This grant will help offset past and ongoing financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds help support programs like Little Eco-Scholars which takes place each Friday morning for ages 5 and under to explore the nature preserve and learn about ecological and environmental processes.

    WW is the largest tract of virgin, old-growth forest within any city limits in the United States. As an Indiana Nature Preserve and National Natural Landmark, WW is a surviving remnant of Southern Indiana’s original forests. Its significance as a living artifact is just one reason WW attracts tens of thousands of guests each year. WW also offers environmental education for all ages and many scientific research opportunities. 

    Executive Director, Zach Garcia, says, “People need nature. During the height of the pandemic, we opened the trails for free to allow people to decompress. With limited staff and loss of revenue from programming, the support leveraged from ARPA funds has significantly improved our current standing. It is going to be a long healing process for everyone but with time we will overcome.”

    The Vanderburgh County Commissioners announced their plan in June 2022. This “Second Amendment to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Coronavirus Local Recovery Fund Utilization” addressed the impact of COVID-19 on local tourism, travel, and hospitality industries. In the plan, they state: “Nonprofits and cultural institutions are significant drivers of Vanderburgh County’s tourism, travel, and hospitality industry. This funding will provide additional relief programming, including direct grants, for organizations whose missions focus on arts, culture, and educational initiatives benefiting Vanderburgh County residents.”

    Per the Courier and Press: “Seven local organizations received a total of $1 million in American Rescue Plan money from Vanderburgh County to help rebound from the impact of COVID-19…” including the Evansville Museum of Arts, History, and Science, the Children’s Museum of Evansville, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Wesselman Woods, the Evansville African American Museum, The Reitz Home Preservation Society, Inc., and the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana.


    Wesselman Woods (WW) is a 501c(3) not-for-profit, the environmental organization founded in 1972 to protect the 200-acre tract in Evansville, In now known as Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve. Today, the Wesselman Woods Nature Society is responsible for the management and daily operations of the Nature Preserve, as well as our west side property, Howell Wetlands. Working in partnership with the city of Evansville, Wesselman Woods provides environmental education and outdoor recreation experiences designed to awaken the senses and enrich the lives of the area residents and visitors.