an illustrated knowledgebase helping connect local folks & local nature in Delaware County, Indiana.

Let's talk purpose.

Hi! My name is Kortnie (or, you can call me Kort). 


I'm the artist, developer, & naturalist behind the site – thanks for visiting!

This site is a personal conservation project of mine to connect local folks & local nature through technology, art, writing, & interpretation.

It's an evolving repository of colorful wildlife illustrations (created by me),  observations & storytelling (as experienced by me), and scientific data (sourced from scientists, subject matter experts, & nonprofits); or, for short – an illustrated knowledgebase. 

It's my hope this project increases local interest in wildlife, conservation, natural resources, ​critical habitats, & community-based problem solving by providing free resources to learn, create, explore, collab, & enjoy nature

Why free? Poverty shouldn't prevent kids and adult learners from making connections with nature. As a former reduced-lunch kid, it's important to me our community combat child poverty in any & all ways we can. So, all content found here will be free.

Let's talk more about poverty & nature.

Recent U.S. Census Data shows Delaware County has one of the highest poverty rates in our state, with ~31% of our community's kids (5-17 years) living below the poverty line. Our local United Way finds 26% of Delaware County households are considered ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). These are working families with ~$1000 in savings who would be 1-2 emergencies away from poverty & not being able to afford housing, insurance, transportation, bills, medication, child care, or groceries. 

Kids living in poverty lack access to quality natural environments & outdoor play opportunities, and have limited access to school libraries & resources. If kids with access to these things are healthier and more likely to care for the environment as adults, let's address those inequalities in our community. 

Wolf River, Tennessee; photograhed by Kortne Huffman 2021
Painting of a Rafinesque's big-eared bat; illustrated by Kortnie Huffman

Let's talk early nature experiences.

I spent a lot of time in my childhood backyard making friends with the resident rollie pollies & worms, searching for four-leaf clovers, and building mini habitats using recycled coffee tins, sticks, & leaves to attract caterpillars. And I was always coloring, drawing, & painting animals. None of this has changed.


One of my first memories in nature was a family trip to Tennessee – we camped on Dale Hollow Lake where I caught my first fish (pic below!). And, visited my papaw's house on Wolf River (pic above!) where I played in the riffles and learned river rocks are slippery! The water was, and still is, incredibly clear. Now, when I'm on our White River I think about how clean & blue our water could be.


In 3rd grade, visitors taught us about endangered species, habitat loss, climate change, & how to help. In 5th grade, we visited Mammoth Cave. Also in 5th grade, a biologist visited class. We dissected owl pellets to learn about their diet (taking off my gloves, digging in, & analyzing what I found was really fun!).


Even TV shows (& people) like The Crocodile Hunter (Steve & Terri Irwin), The Joy of Painting (Bob Ross), The Wild Thornberrys, Gullah Gullah Island, & Going Wild with Jeff Corwin made a huge impact for me.


Or Zoo Tycoon, which I still play. I've logged days building the perfect exhibits for endangered species.


I collected brochures from places with animals, like zoos or museums. They make great reference photos!


As a teen, I fell in love with marine biology thanks to Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. I wanted to rehabilitate dolphins, manatees, & sea turtles. I was surprised with a Dolphin In-Water Adventure at the Indy Zoo on my 16th birthday. I learned from real marine biologists, fed dolphins fish, signaled behavior, and one even peed on me.


Note: I didn't pursue marine biology because dolphins aren't found in Prairie Creek. Seems reasonable, right? But, I wish I'd understood then the local opportunities to study aquatic biology the mussels, amphibians, macroinvertebrates, fish, reptiles, insects, & mammals found in our waterways and wetlands here in Muncie.

My first fish! Dale Hollow Lake, Tennessee
Me at the Dolphin In-Water Adventure

Let's talk current current nature experiences.

I'm still painting & making friends with the resident critters in our backyard – chipmunks, bees, toads, bunnies, birds, shrews, & all sorts of other cool wildlife indigenous to our area. 

Participating in the 2019 Indiana Master Naturalist program was one of the best experiences I've had as an adult. I was able to learn from local subject matter experts (biologists, educators, geologists, foresters, interpreters) on all things Delaware County nature: natural resources, water quality, soil, pollinators, forests, conservation, ethics, and existing problems. I met two local big brown bats. Ah!

This shifted my focus from painting wild animals found across the globe to painting local animals found here in our own backyards & neighborhood parks. And, from painting for profit to painting for purpose.

Now, I'm exploring our West Fork White River by kayak & helping lead volunteers at the river cleanup.

And most importantly, I'm documenting what I'm learning and observing along the way. 

Thanks for joining me on this nature adventure!

- kort