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In Indiana, Hoosiers and our guests can enjoy more than 600,000 acres of public land protected by DNR for recreation. These public lands include state forests, state parks, nature preserves, Fish & Wildlife areas, and more. These special places provide opportunities to experience sandy dunes, cool and quiet forests, sprawling prairies, and many lakes, including Lake Michigan. During 2020 and the first part of 2021, we all became aware of just how important finding ways to relax is to our health. During that time, those who didn’t know before found out what many of us already knew—getting outdoors to enjoy nature is an important and convenient way to live life to the fullest!

Time spent outdoors has been shown to lower stress, decrease blood pressure, provide physical activity, and improve overall well-being. Exposure to sunshine during the day supports healthy bodies and helps us sleep better at night. Being outdoors and breathing in fresh air, I find myself filled with wonder and calm. For children especially, spending time outdoors fosters both creativity and an appreciation for nature; it gives them a space to take risks and build confidence.

This year, make time to try something new outdoors or explore a new natural place. Take to the field or get out on the water. Share an adventure with a loved one, whether that person is a friend, family member, or a canine companion. Wherever you go and whatever you choose to pursue, take time to unwind in nature. The outdoors of Indiana awaits. Enjoy. It’s good for you!

Dan Bortner
Director, Indiana Department of Natural Resources

For many Hoosiers, the global pandemic has taken a toll on mental health. Going outside may seem like an overly simple remedy; however, nature can work wonders on stress and anxiety. It is an opportunity to be mindful, move your body, master a new skill, and engage with others and the outdoors.

Hunting and trapping are outdoor activities with tremendous potential to improve mental health. They require an active presence in the moment. For me, there is nothing more rejuvenating than sitting in the early morning woods and witnessing the world wake up around me. The feel of the crisp air and the sounds of wildlife can relax the mind and body. During turkey season, this quiet peace builds to excitement when I see the turkey step into the field. These activities can be enjoyed and mastered over a lifetime. There are always new skills to learn, different game to chase, and creative ways to cook your harvest.

Quiet peace, active movement, and shared meals are all things I cherish about hunting. Hunting and trapping with others can also strengthen bonds. Our love of delicious wild game and the outdoors is one thing that my family consistently shares with friends and family and is something that we take great pride in. Sharing the love of hunting, fishing, and trapping creates unforgettable memories and fosters a conservation mindset in others.

Take the journey outside. You may find more than you were looking for.

Amanda Wuestefeld

Director, DNR Fish & Wildlife