Conservation Buddies is inspired by Big Brother Andrew Niedermeyer and his wife, Big Sister Charita Niedermeyer. Both are interested in every aspect of outdoor life and have been honored by the National Wild Turkey Federation for their success in bringing others into their passion of hunting, fishing, shooting, birding, hiking and other outdoor activities.
“The numbers of hunters are decreasing, and quickly, and the reality is that sportsmen and sportswomen pay for 80 percent of the conservation in the country,” Andrew Niedermeyer said. “I’d like to get more kids into hunting and fishing and conservation, and maybe they’ll start caring about conservation. This is also a different way to attract others to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.”
The Niedermeyers talked with BBBSNEI Chief Executive Officer Josette Rider about the possibilities during a recent Saturday morning pheasant hunt.
“It inspired me to hear somebody so passionate about the outdoors and kids,” Rider said. “The way to protect the outdoor environment is to inspire the next generation, and that’s what we’re about, so let’s get together and do this. Let’s find a way to expose our Littles to this type of program through Bigs who already like this.”
Married for 19 years, Charita Niedermeyer has been a Big Sister since 2005 and Andrew Niedermeyer has been a Big Brother since 2017. In 2020, they were honored as the local agency’s Big Couple of the Year.
“This is another way to incorporate a different group of folks to the program and to become Bigs,” Charita Niedermeyer said.
According to Match Support Specialist Jaren Harmon, there will be at least two Conservation Buddies events included in the agency’s May calendar of events for Bigs and Littles. Be prepared for a summer calendar with fishing, kayaking, hunter education, exploring nature and much more!
BBBSNEI is one of 18 organizations throughout northern Indiana to be awarded a grant this year from NIPSCO’s environmental program. In its sixth year, NIPSCO’s Environmental Grant has donated $370,000 to date, helping fund 92 projects.
“NIPSCO’s Environmental Action Grant is an integral part of our commitment to strength and support partnerships with organizations improving the quality of the environment, and this program helps fund those projects that might not happen otherwise,” NIPSCO Director of Public Affairs and Economic Development Rick Calinski said. “Working together with the communities and conservation groups in our territory, we’re working to be a leader in the preservation, protection and restoration of critical habitats and to help make a positive difference in the places we call home.”
Long-time BBBS client and supporter and former NBA All-Star player Brad Miller has also made a donation to cover supplies to start the program. The local chapter hosts The Brad Miller Gala, Auction and Golf Outing each August at the Memorial Coliseum, Glencairn Hills and Noble Hawk golf courses.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana is a nonprofit organization serving children in 12 counties by creating and supporting one-to-one mentoring relationships which ignite the power and promise of youth. To learn more about the agency, call 456-1600 or go to bbbsnei.org.