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Some Indiana environmental groups suffering during coronavirus pandemic
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Some Indiana environmental groups suffering during coronavirus pandemic

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Indiana Wildlife Federation

Travis Stoelting, a biologist with the Indiana Wildlife Federation, talks about the natural prairie plants that have been reintroduced at the Holladay Properties AmeriPlex in Portage in August 2010.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s environmental organizations are struggling to stay afloat as the coronavirus pandemic has halted spring events that usually attract members and donors, which are crucial for their operations.

These groups are facing financial hardships, while they focus on retaining employees and carrying out their organizations’ environmental purposes, The Indianapolis Star reported.

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“It would be a tragedy if this pandemic comes along and wipes out or steals the thunder from the groups doing the important work," said Allyson Mitchell, executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition.

The Indiana Wildlife Federation had programs booked throughout the spring season, said the group's executive director, Emily Wood. Through these events, the organization can educate thousands of people about wildlife.

“It’s where we get the bulk of our new members from,” Wood said. “That’s a major disappointment, not being able to get that message out.”

But Earth Charter Indiana has not had that problem. Executive Director Jim Poyser says the youth-oriented climate advocacy group has been connecting with students more than ever because they have been learning from home.

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Poyser added that the organization didn’t even apply for federal aid to keep resources available for others.

Indiana Forest Alliance was approved to receive federal financial aid, said Executive Director Jeff Stant. But he said it won't last forever, and some donors are supporting others in need during the pandemic.

“We need to keep the resources coming in, and the cash flow has gotten tighter and tighter,” Stant said. “A lot of times, environmental projects are seen as secondary.”

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The Citizens Action Coalition focuses on field canvassing to raise awareness and recruit members and donors. But the consumer advocacy group has not knocked on doors since March and had to lay some staff off.

“For the better part of a month, we’ve been spending a lot of time on the organization, finances, operations and how to keep going and keep lights on,” said Executive Director Kerwin Olson. “And at the same time, our mission statement makes us more important today than ever.”

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