Topics: Board of Trustees, Muncie, President

March 26, 2021

A butterfly rests on flowers

Ball State University’s Board of Trustees approved a proposal during Friday’s meeting to dedicate Ginn Woods as a state nature preserve. President Geoffrey S. Mearns will sign the proposal and send the application to the Indiana Natural Resources Commission for approval on May 18.

Owned and maintained by Ball State, Ginn Woods is Indiana’s second-largest protected old-growth forest. The land is 161 acres and is the largest and highest quality woodland in East Central Indiana. Ginn Woods is located along the Mississinewa River corridor in a predominantly agricultural and unincorporated area in northern Delaware County. The land was obtained by Ball State starting in 1970 through a sale by Mary Baldwin McKinzie, a graduate of Ball State University and John and Sarah Ginn's great-granddaughter. The deed shows a transfer price of $1 from the University. Ball State has protected and maintained its pristine, historic condition since.

“Dedicating this land as a state nature preserve aligns with our University’s strategic and master plans,” President Mearns said. “Ball State is committed to environmental stewardship and sustainability. We also believe in making a positive impact on our community. Taking this step ensures Ginn Woods will remain unchanged and available for decades to come for vital research and education, which will benefit both our local and statewide community.”

Ginn Woods is one of six Ball State University natural land field stations or environmental education centers managed for native biodiversity. Collectively, those six lands occupy 425 acres in Delaware County.

For both research and educational endeavors, Ball State and Burris Laboratory students have visited Ginn Woods since the 1950s. Current research on the land includes migratory bird counts, aerial imagery and tree mapping (GIS), amphibian monitoring, long-term vegetation monitoring, and climate impact on tree growth.

“Ginn Woods has been on our radar for thirty or forty years,” said Ron Hellmich, a Ball State graduate, ’88, and now Director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Nature Preserves. “It is really exciting to add it as part of the nature preserve system. It meant so much for me as a student and it will continue to mean a lot for students and the nature preserve system in Indiana.

“There is such a richness to the land there,” Hellmich said. “Having this old-growth woods remain intact so the natural processes of a forest continue on is wonderful.”

Once Ginn Woods becomes an official state nature preserve, Ball State will retain ownership and maintain the land. After the Indiana Natural Resources Commission declares Ginn Woods a nature preserve, Governor Eric Holcomb would finalize the process by signing the order.

In other board news:

The Board of Trustees reappointed Dave Heeter to the Muncie Community Schools (MCS) Board during Friday’s meeting. Heeter is the Regional CEO and market leader for Northwest Bank. A Ball State graduate and a member of the Ball State Foundation Board of Directors, Heeter has served on the MCS Board since the corporation’s historic partnership with Ball State began in 2018.

Heeter was reappointed to a four-year term, effective July 1, 2021.

Muncie Community Schools begins student registration for the 2021-22 school year on March 30. Parents can register students at Parents of preschoolers and incoming kindergarten students will have opportunities to visit schools for registration fairs in early April. For times and locations, visit