Calendar of Events

Due to Covid-19, we may have to limit the number of attendees for each trip. Please check back to our page for the most up-to-date information.

All times are Central Time.

MARCH

Saturday, March 13, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. – FAIRY SHRIMP HIKE
This event is limited to 12 people. Please RSVP for this event. An annual Friends of the Sands and NICHES tradition! While some look to the robin as the harbinger of spring, many wetland enthusiasts mark spring by the appearance of fairy shrimp in our ephemeral ponds and pools. Tiny (less than an inch) fairy shrimp swim, belly up, through their watery world and live for only 2-3 weeks. Join Gus Nyberg for a fun and easy walk for all ages at Holley Savanna, a preserve owned and managed by NICHES Land Trust. Bring your water-boots or waders to enter the pools to search for fairy shrimp and other aquatic invertebrates or stick to the trails surrounding the pools. Meet at Holley Savanna (3250 E 100 S, Mt. Ayr in Newton County). The property is adjacent to North Star Cemetery. Contact Gus (nyberggus@gmail.com, 765-427-4345) to RSVP.

APRIL

Saturday, April 10, 10:00 a.m. – CONRAD HISTORY HIKE
Join the Newton County Public Library and Friends of the Sands for a morning of stories, history, and nature at the old town of Conrad. Guides will share their knowledge about the town, its founder, and spring flora and fauna. This is a 1.6 mile, packed dirt loop trail. Trails are dry for now, but wear sturdy shoes for the hike, and be prepared for mud. Participants need to sign waivers of liability prior to the hike. Bring a sack lunch and a folding chair, and we will share lunch after the hike at the Eastern trailhead. Water will be provided. Meet at the Conrad Station Savanna parking area located on County Road 725 N, a half mile east of US 41, in Lake Village, IN. You may register by calling 219-992-3490 or online at https://www.signupgenius.com/tabs/73377D904A4CEEAC17-family

Thursday, April 15, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. – FAIRGROUNDS CLEAN-UP
Join us at the Newton County Fairgrounds for a spring cleaning of the Friends of the Sands native plant display garden. We’ll remove last year’s stems and rake up the leaves. Please bring your work gloves, rakes, hand clippers, brooms, or other garden tools to help us out. Don’t forget snacks and water. We’ll provide a tarp for dragging away leaves. Many hands make light work! We hope to see you there to welcome the new growth in the garden together. Meet at the Newton County Fairgrounds at 12189 Punkin Vine Rd. in Kentland, IN. Masks and social distancing required. We are limiting the number of people for this event to 10. Please RSVP by contacting Stephanie Frischie (stephaniefrischie@gmail.com, 219-208-5879).

Saturday, April 17, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. – WOODCOCK WALK
The woodcock is a superbly camouflaged bird that is seldom seen, but commonly heard at dusk on cool spring nights performing its aerial courtship flight. Join Gus Nyberg to stroll the prairie and woodland edges at Kankakee Sands at sunset to watch the woodcocks emerge. Masks and social distancing required. We are limiting the number of people for this event to 10. Contact Gus (nyberggus@gmail.com, 765-427-4345) to RSVP and receive information on where to meet.

MAY

Saturday, May 29 – NATIVE PLANT SALE
Due to Covid-19, we will not have in-person sales this year. Order forms will be available soon. Pick-up of plants will be on May 29 at The Nature Conservancy’s Kankakee Sands Native Plant Nursery. Please visit our plant sale page for more information.

JUNE

Friday, June 4, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. – POLLINATOR HIKE
Join Stephanie Frischie, native plant specialist with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, for a hike on the Grace Teninga Discovery Trail. This time of year, the trail is carpeted in a stunning display of lance-leaf coreopsis and spiderwort. Stephanie will talk to us about how healthy pollinator populations promote plant diversity and maintain our prairies. Meet at the Grace Teninga Discovery Trail parking lot located on CR 600 N, a half mile east of the intersection of CR 600 N and 200 W, Lake Village, IN. Masks and social distancing required. We are limiting the number of people for this event to 6. Contact Stephanie Frischie (stephaniefrischie@gmail.com, 219-208-5879) to RSVP.

Saturday, June 19, 7:30 – 10:30 a.m. – BIRDING ON THE PRAIRIE
Celebrate the first days of summer by birding on the prairie with Barb Lucas and Jeanette Jaskula. We hope to find the secretive grasshopper sparrow and the state-endangered Henslow’s sparrow. Meet at The Nature Conservancy’s Bison Viewing Area. Masks and social distancing required. We are limiting the number of people for this event to 5. Contact Barb (blucas1123@gmail.com) or Jeanette Jaskula (jmjaskula@yahoo.com) to RSVP.

JULY

Thursday, July 8, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. – FINAL PREPARATIONS AT THE FAIRGROUNDS
Friends of the Sands tends a native wildflower display at the Newton County Fairgrounds. We’d love your help prepping the beds and tidying up before the fair starts on July 10th. Meet at the Newton County Fairgrounds at 12189 Punkin Vine Rd. in Kentland, IN. Please RSVP for this event. Contact Alyssa Nyberg (anyberg@tnc.org, 219-866-1706) to RSVP.

Saturday, July 10, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. – BUTTERFLY “BIG SIT”
This was a huge hit last year with fans of The Sands! Maybe you’ve heard of a “Big Sit” for birds where all you do is find a spot, sit, and watch the birds around you. How about a “Big Sit” for butterflies at Kankakee Sands? No hiking in the heat required. We’ll set up a tent for some shade and watch the Regal Fritillaries and Monarchs float on by. Don’t forget your lawn chair, a cool drink, and your butterfly field guide. Meet at the Kankakee Sands Native Plant Nursery (1492 W 250 N, Morocco, IN). Masks and social distancing required. We are limiting the number of people for this event to 18. Contact Alyssa Nyberg (anyberg@tnc.org, 219-866-1706) or Marilyn Diller (MarilynDiller@yahoo.com) to RSVP.

Saturday, July 24, 8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. – MOTH MANIA!
Celebrate National Moth Week with us at Kankakee Sands! Moths may conjure images of drab and brown insects fluttering at our porch lights, but with over 900 species recorded at the Sands, there’s much to learn about these mostly-nocturnal fliers. We’ll have a few lights set up to attract moths, so we can view the stunning diversity of these little gems at Kankakee Sands. We’ll also discuss the importance of moths in prairie and savanna ecosystems and how you can participate in citizen science projects that track moth diversity. This is an excellent program for families, and children of all ages are encouraged to attend. Bring a flashlight and bug spray. Meet at The Nature Conservancy’s Seed Barn at 419 W CR 600 N, Lake Village, IN. Masks and social distancing required. We are limiting the number of people for this event to 18. Please RSVP for this event. Contact Jeanette Jaskula (jmjaskula@yahoo.com, 219-869-1004) for more information or to RSVP.

AUGUST

Saturday, August 7, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. – TALES OF KANKAKEE’S PAST
Join us for an evening of story-telling around the campfire at the Seed Barn. We’ll imagine the Kankakee of old with its vast swamps and myriad horse thieves and counterfeiters. You’ll shiver as we tell stories of “Old Shafer”, a swamp character with a most sinister record. Or maybe you’ll cringe at the story of Captain Francois Seguin, the only person to retrieve his beloved mare from horse thieves on Bogus Island and live to tell about it. Join your hosts, Tom and Susan Vanes, for a night of stories of local history. Don’t forget to bring your chairs. We’ll have a fire going. Social distancing required. We are limiting the number of people for this event to 16. Please RSVP for this event. Meet at the Kankakee Sands Seed Barn (417 W 600 N, Lake Village, IN). Contact Tom and Susan (vanes720@yahoo.com) for more information or to RSVP.

Saturday, August 21, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – WILDFLOWER HIKE AT PEMBROKE SAVANNA
Let’s take a trip across the border to visit the Illinois side of the Kankakee Sands region. We’ll join Rob Littiken from The Nature Conservancy for a tour of one of the highest quality preserves in the state: Pembroke Savanna. Beneath a spacious canopy of black oaks, we’ll view a stunning display of rough-blazing star (Liatris aspera) and learn about this unique preserve. Plan to bring good hiking shoes, sunscreen, and insect repellent. We’ll meet at the Kankakee Sands Office (3294 N US 41, Morocco, IN) and carpool to Pembroke Savanna in Illinois. Social distancing required. We are limiting the number of people for this event. Please RSVP. Contact Jeanette Jaskula (jmjaskula@yahoo.com, 219-869-1004) for more information or to RSVP.

SEPTEMBER

Saturday, September 4, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. – LEARN TO PADDLE at Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area’s J.C. Murphy Lake
Need some time on gentle water to learn to paddle a canoe or kayak? Join us for a leisurely paddle on J.C. Murphy Lake at Willow Slough FWA. We’ll have experienced paddlers available to assist you in learning. Plan to spend the afternoon paddling, picnicking, and enjoying the lake. A limited number of canoes and kayak are available. Meet at Willow Slough FWA headquarters at 1803 S. 700 W. Morocco, IN. Please RSVP for this event and reserve your canoe/kayak by contacting Gus Nyberg (nyberggus@gmail.com, 765-427-4345).

Friday, September 10, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. – THE MANY MOTHS OF KANKAKEE SANDS
Late summer is a great time to discover moths at Kankakee Sands! We’ll use a mercury vapor light to attract moths to a white sheet where we’ll try to identify each species. Each moth has a fascinating story to tell us about how important the prairies and savannas are to its brief life. This is a wonderful program for families, and children of all ages are encouraged to attend. Remember to bring a flashlight. Meet at The Nature Conservancy’s Seed Barn at 419 W CR 600 N, Lake Village, IN. Social distancing required. We are limiting the number of people for this event. Please RSVP for this event. Contact Jeanette Jaskula (jmjaskula@yahoo.com, 219-869-1004) for more information or to RSVP.

Saturday, September 11, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. – MONARCH WATCH
Learn about and participate in Monarch Watch, a citizen science program to capture, tag, and release monarch butterflies as they migrate through Indiana on their journey to Mexico. Even if the weather does not cooperate, we’ll still meet to learn more about this research and why it is done. Meet at the Kankakee Sands Native Plant Nursery (1492 W 250 N, Morocco, IN). Social distancing required. We are limiting the number of people for this event. Please RSVP for this event. Contact Barb Lucas (blucas1123@gmail.com) to RSVP.

Photo credit: Trevor Edmonson

Friday, October 22, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. – CONRAD BY MOONLIGHT
Friends of the Sands is teaming up with our partners for one beautiful night of hiking. Join The Nature Conservancy, Newton County Park Board, Newton County Public Library, and the newly formed Newton County Nature Partnership for a stroll at dusk among the majestic oaks of Conrad Station Savanna. The moon will shine as we make our way to the foundation of the old hotel at the ghost town of Conrad. You will have the option to continue on the loop trail or return to the parking lot. We’ll have trees along the path baited with a sugary treat for moths in the hopes of observing these autumn denizens of the woods. Children and families are especially welcome. Bring a flashlight. Meet at the Conrad Station Savanna parking area located on CR 725 N, a half mile east of US 41. Social distancing required. Please RSVP for this event. Contact Jeanette Jaskula (jmjaskula@yahoo.com) to RSVP.

November

Friday, November 12, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – SEED CLEANING WORKDAY
To prepare for our 2022 Native Plant Sale, we will be cleaning seed from up to 50 species of native plants donated by volunteers for our sale. We’ll need to clean the seed from the chaff and tuck the seeds into plastic bags for cool storage until we stratify the seeds in the coming months. If you’re interested in how to grow your own natives from seed, this is a great way to learn, ask questions, and gain some experience. Dress for the weather. This event will be held outdoors. Meet at the Kankakee Sands Seed Barn (417 W 600 N, Lake Village, IN). Social distancing required. Due to rain, we have rescheduled for Friday, Nov. 12 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Contact Jeanette Jaskula (jmjaskula@yahoo.com, 219-869-1004) for more information.