Hands of the Future cultivates confidence, life skills, well-being, and a respect for the natural world in children of our community through exploratory play.

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We found land!!!

Introducing Zonda Children's Forest...

Hands of the Future, Inc has signed a purchase agreement with Mr. Colburn to buy his 18.81 acres of family woods on Soldiers Home Road.

Children’s Forest have been around since 1993 in states all across the country and this would be Indiana’s first one. We will be turning these woods into a nature-rich site for children, their families and those young at heart. We plan to have a barn, a greenhouse, a caretaker’s cottage and eventually a nature center.

There will be six major areas for the children:

Incredible Edibles – A children’s garden for the children to learn to grow their own food

Butterflies, Birds and Beyond – the area around the nature center will be designed to attract these

Wee Folks Woods – it will be embellished to make safe adventures for the younger children

Amazing Sunflower Forest – a maze created with mostly sunflowers and hiding spots

Owl Alley – a labyrinth with meditation spots – we have a great horned owl in the area

The Enchanted Forest – This will be the majority of the mature woods in the back, designed to allow older children to have adventures

We are looking for people to become founders by donating $100 or more towards the purchase price of $225,000 if we can raise it in six months. If you are interested in becoming a founder, please contact us at our email: director@hands-future.org. We will be making founder plaques to honor donors once we put up a building.

Current Founders

  • Brent and Suzanne Clemenz
  • Girl Scout Troop 1264
  • James and Yssa DeWoody
  • Jean Andres
  • Jean and Wallace Tyner
  • Jennifer William
  • Joan Mohr Samuels
  • John Klemme
  • John Mott
  • John and Joyce Vanwoerden
  • Joseph and Jennifer Seger
  • Karen Griggs
  • Know and Grow class at St. Andrew's Church
  • Leslie Sharp
  • Liliana, Craig and Stephanie Zywicki
  • Linda Eales
  • Linda Renzulli
  • Mark Gildersleeve
  • Members of the West Lafayette Tree Friends
  • Michelle Akridge
  • Nancy Beall
  • Rebecca Trent
  • Rick Read
  • Rob Oglesbee
  • Thomas & Laura Rowe
  • Tim Galos
  • Tom and Leslie Zimmerman
  • Vince and Ellen Sitterding
  • William and Peggy Hoover
  • Zonda Bryant

  • Our special donors

  • The Peretin Family
  • The Pinto Family
  • Maryam GK
  • MaryKate Annin
  • Susie Blom
  • Sheila Rosenthal
  • John Garner
  • Arletta and David Brown
  • Gretchen Newlin
  • Gillilands
  • United Methodist Children's Sunday School Classes

  • Our Total So Far - $65,524!

    Please help this dream come true for our area children.

    Our Dream of a Children's Forest

    Several years ago I was fortunate enough to find my niche in life - teaching nature to children. I was able to combine my knowledge and love of nature with my love of working with children and now I lead the Junior Nature Club. We started out small - one school, two grades and 12 kids. Now we have kids from the whole county, grades K - 8 and offer three different nights. Kids love it and we feel blessed. We're helping them connect to their world, building a relationship with the beautiful gift of nature so that they will appreciate and care for it as adults.

    We want to create a children's forest to further provide a child-friendly site where they can have fun and adventures like we did when we were kids. To learn from hands on experiences in a natural setting. They have had them out west for more than twenty years. While it is a new concept here, we believe our children will greatly benefit from such a place. We could continue to expand our programs, eventually going from Pre-K to 12th grades. We could be a destination place for school field trips and work with area teachers to help with their environmental education as outdoor labs. We could be a place for scouts and other children's clubs to earn badges and support their goals. We would have a learning center, maybe even eventually have summer day camps (nature school). The possibilities are huge.

    So... in order to do this, we will need to raise the money and buy the land. That way we will be able to be creative and innovative in its development. To address the current challenges that face our youth as we become further and further removed from the natural world. We believe this community is generous and caring enough to raise the needed funds. I believe we can pull together to make this happen. We're willing to do the hard work that will be required and I am willing to dedicate the rest of my years to this cause. I believe the children are worth the effort. Their excitement makes me excited, and that keeps me going.

    If you would like to see our ideas of what we envision, check out our Children's Forest Ideas - Masterplan 3. It is a collection of possible ideas that might be added to our site. Of course ours will have our own flare based on skill, materials and our own visions, but it should give you a good idea of what we are thinking. You can also check out our recent presentation to the EEAI conference. Thank you so much for your support!

    Ms. Zonda

    For information from the US Forestry Service about Children's Forests and what they are:
    USDA Forestry Service