(Courier file photo)
(Courier file photo)
Southeastern Indiana, in all its natural beauty, is the setting for a returning series inviting people to get out and enjoy the area.

Great Events in the Great Outdoors, led by the Oak Heritage Conservancy, runs from March 22 through July 8.

Most events are free.

What started as a series of 11 events has grown to a 20-part series involving seven local organizations.

Along with the Conservancy, participating groups include Heritage Trail, Jefferson County Parks, Clifty Falls State Park, Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, Versailles State Park and the Hanover College Environmental Stewardship Committee.

Liz Brownlee, OHC executive director, said the group has built trails across the county, but they want to do more.

“We want people to come and play,” Brownlee said in a release. “But we realized that the trails are not enough. We all need an excuse to actually get outside and spend time in nature.”

Organizers reported record attendance at events last year, Brownlee said.

“So we decided that working together and coordinating events made a lot of sense.”

The Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County granted funds to form the collaboration for the series.

Some events require early registration and times are still being finalized. For details about scheduled events and potential additions, visit www.oakheritageconservancy.org/events or call (317) 258-5217.

Here’s a tentative lineup:

• March 22: Frog day at Krueger Lake

• March 25: Fossils Rock! Workshop and exploration at Clifty Falls State Park. Geology experts will answer questions and lead participants on an educational hike. Tickets are $2.

• March 25: Frogs, Salamanders and Fossils. Department of Natural Resources naturalist Jason Larson will lead a moderate hike to Falling Timbers Nature Preserve, within Versailles State Park, looking for frogs and fossils.

• April 1: Caring for the Birds at the Heritage Trail. Build a state-of-the art bluebird house and learn about purple martins and other birds that co-exist with our community. Registration is required.

• April 1: Stargazing at Versailles State Park

• April 15: Workday and nature walk at Webster Woods Preserve. Meet at the Pride Market in Hanover, caravan to the woods to help get the trail in shape for the season on this hike led by Paul Carmony.

• April 21: Birding tour of Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge. Participants on this morning tour will pay a $3 entry fee.

• April 22: Earth Day pedal and picnic at Clifty Falls State Park, This four-mile bike ride begins at 11 a.m. at the Clifty swimming pool. Riders are encouraged to pack a lunch for a group picnic. Dessert will be provided.

• April 23: Earth Day clean up at Versailles State Park

• May 3: Next Indiana Campfire at Hanover College. Participants will hike along the Daryl R. Karns Natural History Trail beginning at 5:30 p.m. through the Hanover College campus. The hike will be followed by a campfire and a meal at sunset.

The event is recommended for ages 12 and up and tickets are $15.

• May 6: Spring Wildflower Walk at Versailles State Park

• May 12 & 13: Native tree giveaway at Greensburg and Batesville Farmer’s Markets

• May 20: Explore Tribbett Woods Preserve. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Commiskey post office to carpool to this trail-less forest preserve.

• May 21: Canoe trip to dedicate Lebline Woods Preserve. A six-hour float downstream on the east fork of the White River. Participants should pack a lunch. Tickets are $15 and reservations are required.

• June 3: Trail clean up at Versailles State Park

• June 3: Hall-Carmer Wetlands hike, Meet at 9 a.m. at the Dupont post office for this hike led by Paul Carmony.

• June 9-11: Tales of Scales at Clifty Falls State Park

• June 10: Outdoor Women at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge. Women build in-the-field skills and knowledge about the environment at this annual event. Registration required.

• July 6: Outdoor Sensory Day at Greensburg Library

• July 8: Take a kid fishing at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, Free fishing at Big Oaks.