community events

Young adults gather to appreciate nature with Sycamore Branches group



An environmental group with millennials in mind is giving young people the chance to get outside while expanding their social circles.

Sycamore Branches is a group creating outlets for 20- and 30-year-olds to become involved with the outdoors. It formed in spring 2015 with a group of volunteers and several Sycamore Land Trust employees, and now a planning committee is in charge of scheduling event incorporating nature, conservation and preservation.

“Sycamore wanted to get young people involved with their mission,” said Lauren Harlingch, a Sycamore Branches committee member. “We try to be active and do stuff that people already enjoy doing.”

The group usually gets together for an afternoon of hiking or an evening of nature trivia. A social hour follows the events, which Harling said allows people to form friendships and a sense of community. Sycamore Branches is aimed at people in between college-age and settling-down age who want to meet people with similar interests, Harling said.

“Being a young professional in Bloomington — especially if you’re not from here — it’s challenging to meet like-minded people who want to be active and outdoors,” she said. “It’s hard to meet people outside of your work.”

Folsom said the group is a good resource for new people in town, and it’s an easy, accessible way into the environmentally-conscious community.

“We’re targeting millennials,” said Anna Archer, Sycamore Land Trust’s IU School of Environmental and Public Affairs fellow, who helped form the group. “We think there are a lot of community members in Bloomington who are actively interested in the environment, but there’s a gap in activities for those types of people.”

Archer said a community is indeed beginning to grow. She’s been seeing many of the same faces at events, and she’s made friends herself through being a part of Sycamore Branches.

Katrina Folsom, Sycamore Land Trust’s communications director, said she wants the group to become self-sustaining. Its members are looking to try new, different events and expand to millennials in surrounding towns like Columbus, Indiana.

“We’re still in our first year of Sycamore Branches, and it’s still a pretty Bloomington-centric club,” Folsom said, adding she doesn’t want the group to only welcome people living in Bloomington. The city, with its high population of young people — the median age in Monroe County is 23.4 years, according to Bloomington’s census data – made the most sense to target first.

Folsom said those older than millennials are also welcome at events. Archer said the age of people who come to events is generally 25-40.

The planning committee will meet in December to discuss future events, Harling said. They won’t become dormant during winter months. Archer said the group will have indoor events that still involve the outdoors, and Harling said they may plan a winter hike in the snow.

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