As the weather warms up, there is more and more activity outside on Indiana Wesleyan University’s campus. Students and other IWU community members can enjoy the weather off campus, as well as Botany Glen and Ketcham Woods, IWU-owned properties.
Tyler Huston, assistant director of experiential learning, said the Adventure Learning department has overseen the properties since 1998 with the help of the facilities grounds crew. Botany Glen, also known as the James S. Wilson Memorial Sanctuary, was deeded to the university by George and Edna Wilson in 1965 and is a 45-acre wilderness preserve.
“Because Botany Glen is deeded as a wildlife preserve, there’s effort and wording within the property deed and management to preserve it as that,” Huston said. “This restricts fires, camping, and hunting. Really any work that would be termed destruction of forestation is only to be done for access to the property. For example, we do maintain a loop trail on the property to be utilized for hiking, observing and biological studies.”
Due to the restrictions on activities, Huston said Botany Glen is mostly used for biology classes to do field observations. According to a 2003 study by Ball State University, the property holds 370 varieties of plants, 160 of which were recorded for the first time in Grant County and 69 of which are exotic to the county.
Huston said while it’s a great resource for biology classes and studies, Botany Glen is also an enjoyable hiking trail.
“It doesn’t have to be necessarily just for biological observation,” Huston said. “If i’m going to go out and walk a trail personally, I tend to go out to Botany Glen and walk.”
While Botany Glen remains a nature preserve, Ketcham Woods is more of a recreational property, as deeded by Frank and Rose Ketcham in 1998. According to the deed, the Ketchams desired for the property to be used for “camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, biology field experiments, nature observation, ropes courses, and picnics for students, faculty, and invitees of Indiana Wesleyan University.”
“Really it is a place to get off campus and enjoy some of the peace and quiet of God’s creation,” Huston said. “You get birds in the spring and everything just starts to green up and then again in the fall you get wonderful colors out there.”
Jeremy Walton is the Adventure Learning assistant property manager and helps take care of both properties. Walton said he enjoys helping lead team building exercises at Ketcham Woods.
“I always know I have the best job when I get to lead a group of people in team building exercises and then get to know them better, and by the end of the team building I find myself with new friends,” Walton said.
Taylor Ryken has worked for Adventure Learning for two years and said while she enjoys using the firepits at Ketcham, there is much more to the property.
“The disc golf course exploring the trails in the back are unique and fun aspects of IWU’s campus that many people do not know about,” Ryken said. “During NSO we run an Amazing Race and set up a kayak slalom course on the pond. That was super fun.”
Huston said both properties are open sunup to sundown for IWU community members, with Ketcham being available for reservation. He said they advertise for Ketcham more than Botany Glen because there are more activities available there.
“For outdoor recreation, we tend to advertise Ketcham Woods, which is a place where the students can go with a group of friends and disc golf, walk trails, or have a bonfire, things of that nature,” Huston said.
Walton said he does not believe most students know about the properties available for them to use.
“Students are free to go out anytime, except spend the night, and enjoy walking around in the woods, hammocking, relaxing by the lake or even enjoying a campfire in one of our designated campfire pits,” Walton said.
Botany Glen is located at 7300 Wheeling Pike in Jonesboro and Ketcham Woods is at 1597 South – 600 East in Marion.