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Growing Up in the Dunes: How Stories from the Sand Inspired a Nature Writing Career

Indiana Dunes National Park

Get inspired by writer and naturalist Gary Paul Nabhan as he recounts being raised in the Miller section of the national park. He will talk about how the Indiana Dunes inspired many Hoosier residents to become writers, naturalists and scientists, and how solitary time in nature is more important now than at any point in human history. He will read excerpts from his essays and poems written over five decades that are set in the Dunes. This presentation will take place in the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education on Tuesday, June 22 at 1:30 pm.  We ask that visitors inside the center to wear face coverings and social distance.   

Miller Beach

Gary Paul Nabhan, a Lebanese-American, is an internationally recognized literary naturalist, plant ecologist and conservation biologist who learned natural history while playing hooky in the West Beach-Long Lake area. Author of thirty books on science, natural history, collaborative conservation, and wild foods, he was set on his path by becoming the first student member of the Save the Dunes Council while still in high school. He later worked at the headquarters for the first Earth Day, as an NPS Seasonal Interpretive Naturalist, and as a field researcher in eight national parks. He has served on the congressionally appointed National Parks System Commision under two presidents and played a pivotal role in the designation of Ironwood Forest National Monument. He has been honored with a MacArthur “genius” fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, a John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing, and the Vavilov Medal for international seed conservation. He will read poems and short excerpts of essays set in the Indiana Dunes from his books that have been published in more than eight languages.  

The Douglas Center welcomes adults, youth, and families of all backgrounds. The center is open and always free every day from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. with an accessible wetland boardwalk.  The center is located in the western portion of the national park at 100 North Lake Street, about one mile north of U.S. Highway 12 in the Miller section of Gary. For more information on this or other programs at Indiana Dunes National Park, call 219-395-1824 or check the park’s website at

The Indiana Dunes National Park is one of 423 units of the National Park System ranging from Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty. Indiana Dunes National Park includes 15 miles of the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan and 15,000 acres of beach, woods, marshes, and prairie in the northwest corner of Indiana. More than 2 million visitors come to this national park each year. Check our Facebook page at  

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