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CROWN POINT | On May 7, students from the environmental club at St. Mary’s Catholic Community School enjoyed a wonderful hike through Bur Oak Woods Nature Preserve. Bur Oak Woods is one of the only remaining old growth savanna habitats found in Lake County Indiana.

The site is dominated by centuries old pen grown Bur Oaks and is home to many animals such as deer, fox, turkey, flying squirrels and many more.

Students were also engaged in various environmental education activities exploring concepts such as competition, adaptation and interdependence. These were led by Jim Erdelac, Education and Volunteer Manager of the Shirley Heinz Land Trust and Kellie Koerner, Outreach Education Coordinator of the Dunes Learning Center.

The E.P.A. Environmental Club at St. Mary’s stands for Education, Protection and Appreciation. It is open to students in grades four thru eight and is led by Principal Tom Ruiz and teachers Kim Hise, Rachel Baker and Heather Clarkson.

Students attend monthly meetings, write a weekly article for the school’s electronic newsletter and attend field trips. They also spearhead the school’s recycling program.

St. Mary’s has a niche for everyone. To learn more about the EPA Club or any of the schools wide variety of other clubs, visit

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Laura is the digital news director at The Times, where she spends her time watching analytics, sharing content on social media, creating graphics and more. The Columbia College Chicago grad has been with The Times since 2012. No relation to Lois.