Angie Haywood first fell in love with the outdoors, especially the water, growing up on the coast in New Jersey. When she moved to Indianapolis her sophomore year of high school, that passion followed her, and she quickly found that freshwater environments are just as special as the ocean. Considering this lifelong love of the outdoors, it just makes sense that today Angie is the Assistant Director of Planning and Public Engagement for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish & Wildlife. She’s also a Parks Foundation of Hendricks County (PFOHC) Board Member.

“Natural spaces and parks have been a favorite destination for me for as long as I can remember. When I took a new job in Hendricks County six years ago, the ample parks and miles-long trails drew me in and were a large part of why I decided to put down long-term roots and purchase a home here,” shared Angie. “I specifically chose Plainfield because of their trail system and how connected the community is through their trails and public spaces. The outdoors as well as giving back to the community have long been passions for me, so it was an easy choice for me to say yes to joining the PFOHC Board. It is an honor to be a part of an organization committed to ensuring the livelihood and longevity of our community’s parks.”

When it comes to the endless benefits of parks and trails, Angie knows a thing or two about how outdoor spaces can bolster our community recreationally, environmentally and economically. Personally, she loves how a simple visit to a park can instantly relieve stress and help her decompress. Outside of her personal appreciation for parks, she also relishes seeing others utilize the green space in different ways.

“I really enjoy looking around and seeing families enjoying picnics, fishing in one of the lakes, walking or biking the trails, using the playgrounds or waterparks,” Angie said. “I believe everyone should have access to these spaces and I am grateful my community has so many to offer. I think these spaces are one of the best investments we can make to ensure our communities continue to flourish and thrive.”

In addition to seeing her neighbors enjoy parks, Angie recognizes a long-term value in the parks that we don’t always see right away, like the environmental and ecosystem services our parks provide. It’s one of the driving factors in why she supports PFOHC and parks in our community.

“These natural spaces provide important benefits to our environment such as improving water quality, habitat for wildlife, trees that help improve the air we breathe and flood prevention,” she shared. “And they do all that while allowing us a place to recreate and connect with nature. To know I am helping play a small role in all of that is truly incredible. It really makes me feel like I am making a difference in my community today for future generations.”

Angie suggests paying close attention to yourself and others during your next park visit—from watching kids playing basketball, a child learning how to ride a bike or a family celebrating a life milestone in one of the shelters. Angie says you’ll see how much joy these spaces bring our community.

“If you happen to be out on a nature trail alone, take a moment to take that in. How great it feels to be in the serenity of nature. The sounds, the smells, the fresh air in your lungs. Why not take that step to ensure the longevity of these spaces? Every donation matters—no matter how big or small. Consider being a part of ensuring our communities continue to have these spaces to enjoy,” she added.

Angie loves visiting all the parks, but Washington Township Park holds a special place in her heart, as it’s where she and her husband, Robb, were married on a beautiful August day. They enjoy hiking, kayaking, traveling and visiting farmers’ markets and parks when they explore other places. When she’s out on the trails, her iPhone is always near as she aspires to be a nature photographer and conservation storyteller. Angie lives in Plainfield with her husband, stepson and four cats.