The Blog
Ben Mannies

Ecological Resource Specialist, JFNew

How long have you been volunteering with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful?

I have been involved with KIB for a little over a year now. I had heard about KIB from the time I moved down to Indianapolis from Purdue in 2007 but didn’t really get involved until the spring of 2009.

Why did you start volunteering with us?
My first experience was a presentation I made at KIB’s headquarters for Indiana Living Green last year. At the end of the presentations we were given a tour by Linda and I fell in love with KIB because of how sustainable the building is. From that point on I decided to dedicate as much time as I could to helping out. I joined SOLAR and have helped with a few cleanups and tree plantings. Recently I have been creating maps depicting the benefits of trees that KIB has planted in the hopes that these visualizations will help other agencies, organizations, and gracious donors see the impact KIB can make with their help.

What do you get out of volunteering?
I do work that is very closely related to aspects of KIB’s mission on a daily basis. As an ecological consultant most of the work I do is mitigation, i.e. “forced” habitat restoration to replace or restore impacts from development. Every time I volunteer, though, I am still amazed that there is so much community involvement to plant trees, clean up a stream; more or less beautifying an otherwise barren urban landscape with nature!

What impact do you feel that the work has on the community?
Beautifying communities by planting natives, trees, cleaning up streams, etc. serves two purposes the way I see it. The most immediate effect is the transformation into a natural landscape that increases aesthetics. The work that KIB does also serves, as I see it, a more important purpose. Every tree that is planted cleans the air and produces oxygen for all to benefit from. Every wildflower provides a food source for all sorts of critters. KIB is working hard to increase the awareness of the benefits this type of work and I hope to continue to see the type of community involvement that will transform Indianapolis into a beautiful, green, clean city!

What is your favorite tree and/or flower? Why?
My favorite tree is the sassafras. Walking through the woods, if I ever spot a young sassafras I pluck a small twig and chew on it. They taste exactly like Fruit Loops! They are also a “pioneer” species, meaning they are some of the first trees that come back on a site after disturbance. I see them as harbingers of a forest that is about to be reborn!

Information you would like to share?
I graduated from Purdue University in West Lafayette in 2007 with a BS in Natural Resources and Environmental Science. I grew up in Miami County, in a very rural setting. From the earliest time I can remember I have always known I wanted to work outside in the environmental field. I spent countless hours as a child wandering around in my grandparents woods and now have a career that allows me to do just that! My fiancé, Elise, and I just bought a house and look forward to landscaping with natives, planting trees, and installing a rain garden!

Why would you encourage others to volunteer with KIB?
When you volunteer, it just makes you feel good about yourself. When you are with a bunch of people who feel good about themselves you are almost certain to make new friends and have a good time. When a bunch of friends get together and plant a bunch of trees a huge impact can be made that benefits all people!