A look back at the Bicentennial year!

January 2017  Volume 32


lee and becky

Indiana's Bicentennial - A Year to Remember, A Legacy to Continue






By: Lee Hamilton and Becky Skillman, Indiana Bicentennial Commission Co-Chairs


Five years ago, former Governor Mitch Daniels announced the creation of the Bicentennial Commission. Although it seems like yesterday that the Bicentennial journey began, these last few years were filled with countless meetings and conversations, solid accomplishments and a deeper appreciation from Hoosiers of their Indiana heritage and a vision of what we need to do to make a good state even better.


While an exciting endeavor, planning for the Bicentennial year presented challenges. What would we do to ignite the future? Those challenges would have been impossible to overcome without a number of driving forces:  the Bicentennial Commission and staff who worked to organize the effort, Hoosier volunteers who provided creativity, motivation and enthusiasm, committed and supportive government leaders, and partners who brought their boundless energy and support.


One major challenge the Commission faced was building a grassroots team to make the Bicentennial real and meaningful in every corner of Indiana. The Bicentennial Torch Relay was the most far-reaching project of the year.  More than 2,000 torchbearers, and as many volunteers, were nominated and assembled. These Hoosiers traversed 3,000 miles through all 92 counties under the guidance of the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.  The torch itself was engineered by Purdue University faculty and students. The torch became an emblem of the Bicentennial year, inspiring Hoosiers across the state.


 A volunteer network of County Coordinators was created to ensure that celebrations, projects and legacies were all important and relevant to their individual and unique towns and communities. To say these County Coordinators were successful would be an understatement.  We aimed to have 200 Legacy Projects – locally funded, organized and executed Bicentennial celebrations highlighting nature conservation, historic celebration, community involvement and youth and education. At the end of the year, the Commission had endorsed 1,650 Bicentennial Legacy Projects!


Legacy Projects varied in size and focus, but they each displayed a deep Hoosier pride. Boy Scouts built cardinal nesting platforms and learned about the state bird. Girl Scouts worked to earn a Bicentennial badge and visited historic sites. Quilt gardens bloomed in Elkhart County representing historic quilt patterns. In Peru, Circus performers flew from the trapeze while the band played a tune by Miami County native Cole Porter. Musicians played Starr Pianos in Richmond and celebrated the jazz history of Gennett records. All Legacy Projects are a testament to the enthusiasm and drive of County Coordinators and the volunteer teams they assembled.


Another challenge was leaving lasting legacies for the generations of Hoosiers who follow. The Centennial had the creation of Indiana’s State Parks as one legacy.  What was a fitting legacy for the Bicentennial?


The Bicentennial Visioning Project helped frame a discussion to prepare Indiana for its future. More than 100 forward-thinking Hoosiers gathered to participate in thirteen topic-focused sessions ranging from agriculture to religion and identified goals for the state to work toward over the next 50 years. Their thoughts and ideas were put together to create a pathway to the future for Indiana’s decision makers. You can find the full report at http://www.in.gov/ibc/indianafuture.htm.


Many lasting physical legacies were created during the Bicentennial. The State Archives will preserve and display Indiana’s most important historical documents. Bicentennial Plaza offers a fitting memorial and a space for Hoosiers to rest and reflect as they visit our Statehouse. The Statehouse Education Center provides learning opportunities to the more than 60,000 annual visitors to our most important building – 80 percent of whom are children.  The Bicentennial Nature Trust has preserved more than 11,000 acres of new parks, trails, wetlands and forestlands through 184 individual projects, bringing new public space within 20 miles of almost every Hoosier. This project, under the guidance of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and with the support of Lilly Endowment and the Nina Mason Pulliam Trust was the first announced and funded Bicentennial project.


It is our belief that the Bicentennial legacy will reflect our tagline, “Celebrate History. Ignite the Future.” The past year gave us all a chance to reflect on the state’s history, its future, and our place in it. The inspiration for the iconic “Bison-tennial” public art project was the fact that American Bison used to roam the Buffalo Trace across the Indiana countryside. The new Levi Coffin State Historic Site Interpretive Center demonstrates important lessons Hoosiers can learn from those came before us, like how to be citizen leaders and stand up strongly for our beliefs.


 “Ignite the Future” is the lasting legacy we leave from this time.  We can remember the Hoosier pride, hospitality, creativity, lack of pretense, sense of humor and hard work that was demonstrated during the Bicentennial and apply it to the problems of the future. May the lasting legacy of the Bicentennial be that we, as Hoosiers, take the initiative to make our communities, counties and state better places. Rather than wane, we hope the pride we felt this year continues to grow. While we remember, we must not forget to act. Above all the Bicentennial gave Hoosiers the energy to forge change and create impact for future generations.




January 2017

How Corn Changed Putnam County - 200 Years of Agriculture

Putnam County Museum

Through July 31, 2017



Hoosiers celebrated Indiana's Bicentennial weekend

Indiana's Bicentennial weekend was full of history, fun and Hoosier pride... READ MORE >


Marketplace celebrates Hoosier artisans

The Bicentennial year was a time to highlight the talent and work of Hoosiers - especially... READ MORE >


Commemorative Bicentennial items 

As with any major milestone, the Bicentennial will be remembered for years to come... READ MORE >


Super Service saw success in 2016

Super Bowl XLVI. The Indianapolis 500. The 2015 Men's NCAA Final Four... READ MORE >

legacy project

Legacy Projects celebrated the Bicentennial statewide

One of the first orders of business for the newly created Indiana... 


fox ridge

Nature Trust protects Indiana land

In celebration of Indiana's Centennial in 1916, the State of Indiana authorized the... READ MORE >


200 Days of Birthdays is statewide celebration

While reading about Bicentennial celebrations is exciting, seeing and hearing... READ MORE >

capital and signature

Signature and Capital projects leave a legacy

The Bicentennial year ended when the clock struck midnight on December 11, 2016... READ MORE >


What's next for the Bicentennial Commission?

Although the year is over, the Indiana Bicentennial Commission's work is... READ MORE >


"Bison-Tennial" herd sweeps the state

You may have heard about the life-size fiberglass bison popping up around the state... READ MORE >


IBC focus on health and well being of children

The members of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission devoted much of their time and... READ MORE >


Bicentennial partners made the year possible

Behind the glitz, glam and excitement of the Bicentennial year there was... READ MORE >


          Indiana Bicentennial Commissioners:          What did the Bicentennial year mean to you?


Lee Hamilton

It has made me appreciate Indiana more, and more determined to do all I can to make a good state better.


Becky Skillman

I'm honored to participate in this special time in our state's history as Hoosiers come together and work together toward a greater purpose.  We celebrated and made special memories, but more importantly, we helped to position our communities and state for the next 100 years of progress and change.



Sarah Evans Barker, Judge

For me, it was both fun and rewarding to participate in the culminating year of  our preparation for this once-in-a-lifetime celebration.  To witness the enthusiasm as it bubbled up around the state in virtually every city, town, village and county for all things Hoosier was a source of great joy and deep pride.  Our fellow citizens were "all in,"  demonstrating in hundreds of impressive ways Indiana at her best as together we honored our noble  past and prepared for a vibrant, productive, fair and just third century. Onward we go!



Charlie Brown

Serving on the IBC was, and is historical. I will cherish the experience and the fellowship with my fellow commissioners. We did not have the honor of the workings of the 150th planning, and my curiosity is piqued on knowing what the 250th planning will look like by virtue of the fine work and roadmap being left by our staff.


Stephen Ferguson

It is an honor to be a part of 200 years of local history.  I appreciate the opportunity to serve on the Indiana Bicentennial Commission and be part of the planning of this momentous celebration.   It is a time to reflect on our heritage and honor those who contributed and sacrificed so much to make this great state. This year has been one to remember and I thank everyone involved with Indiana’s Bicentennial.


Tony George

I was honored to have been appointed by Governor Daniels to serve on the commission with some truly great Hoosiers. I am so proud of the staff that executed a state wide engagement that has set a very high bar for how a state should come together to celebrate its heritage!  Thank you to Becky and Lee for their leadership. And thanks to our First Lady Karen Pence for her tireless efforts throughout the state. Truly a remarkable Bicentennial Ambassador.


Brenda Gerber Vincent

Celebrating Indiana’s 200th Birthday was magical! 

As a fourth generation Hoosier, my love for Indiana 

was instilled at a very young age. It is my hope that 

we helped to inspire the next generation to celebrate 

and appreciate all that makes Indiana special.  


PE MacAllister

My  response is dual. It is guilt at missing so many meetings and then more important, admiration for our co-chairs whose patience, diligence, perseverance and diplomacy kept us at the task which produced a superb product leaving in years to come, impacts which will continue indefinitely to enrich future generations.


Jim Madison

2016 was a chance to see Hoosiers at our best, particularly as so many local volunteers stepped up with great community projects.


Mickey Mauer

I am proud to be appointed to the Bicentennial Commission and proud of the work of that body. I would like to be considered for a place on the Tricentennial Commission.


Mary McConnell

I have travelled the highways and byways of Indiana my entire life, visiting communities and natural areas in every county.  But it was my involvement on the Bicentennial Commission that truly opened my eyes to the beauty, diversity, talent, commitment, generosity, breadth and scope of this amazing state and her citizens. It has been an honor and a privilege to have played a small role in Indiana’s 200th birthday. 


Jim McCormick

Being a member of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission has been a great experience for me these past 5 years. Not only have I learned more about Indiana and its rich history, I have enjoyed working with the other 14 commissioners, several of whom I had never met prior to our commission meetings. I particularly enjoyed Co-Chairs Lee Hamilton and Becky Skillman---and of course, the exemplary leadership of our Executive Director, Perry Hammock.  The Torch Parade was a once in a life time memorable event, and of course to see all the different Bison decorations was "icing on the cake."


It was an honor to be a member of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. I shall cherish the memories the rest of my life.


Jim Merritt

It was a thrill to see overwhelming Hoosier Pride in the countless legacy projects in each county.


Ellen Rosenthal

As the chair and an originator of the Bicentennial Legacy Project Committee, I witnessed creativity and state pride blossom in all of Indiana’s 92 counties when non-profit and government groups applied for endorsement from the Bicentennial Commission. 1,650 projects were endorsed; organizations found distinct ways to celebrate the state’s history and prepare Hoosiers for the future. 


Some projects such as The Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail in Elkhart County actually "bloomed" with regional pride. Others such as Indiana African American Heritage Trail Project in Harrison County used the Bicentennial as an opportunity to highlight less well-known aspects of our history.


Projects for young people were among the most numerous, as organizations produced plays, books and programs for school children and children themselves undertook research, special events and exhibits. Intended to combat high rates of infant mortality, Sweet Dreams Baby Bundles in Greene County looked ahead to the next century. Upon successfully completing prenatal care, new mothers were given a generous supply of infant care items and received post-partum training.


No one project tells the entire story of this state, but together these 1,650 projects create points in a picture of our past, what we are today and begin to reveal what Indiana might look like in the next 100 years.


It has been a once in a lifetime thrill to serve on Indiana’s Bicentennial Commission


Randall Shepard

The finale of our Bicentennial has reflected a growing optimism about Indiana's future opportunities.  People frequently use words like momentum and cohesion, demonstrating a widespread conviction that our state can thrive and reform in the decades ahead.

Check this out!


Trees to be planted on Statehouse lawn for Indiana's Bicentennial

In honor of Indiana's Bicentennial, Ricker's Convenience Stores will fund a $25,000 project through its Ricker's Replenish program to replace and replenish trees on the Indiana Statehouse lawn.

Through the Ricker's Replenish program every time customers fill up at a Ricker’s in Indianapolis, Ricker’s will plant trees and help offset up to 30% of the vehicle’s carbon emissions through proportionate investment in carbon sequestration projects.


“One of the four pillars of the Bicentennial year is nature conservation,” said Indiana’s First Lady and Indiana Bicentennial Ambassador, Karen Pence. “It is very exciting to me that one of the last things to happen at the Statehouse this year will be a Bicentennial legacy project like this one to beautify the Statehouse lawn.”



This tree planting is an endorsed Bicentennial Legacy Project. Signage and recognition will share the importance of this project with all visitors to the Statehouse.


The tree planting will complement other beautification projects that took place during the Bicentennial year. One of the Commission’s nine signature projects was the planning and completion of Bicentennial Plaza on the west side the Statehouse. These projects will truly leave a visible legacy for Hoosiers to enjoy.


“Our mission is to give back to our communities that we call home, here in Anderson, Indianapolis and throughout central Indiana,” said Quinn Ricker, president and CEO of Ricker’s. “We are proud to be a part of this outstanding project that will last for many generations to come in addition to our impact through our Replenish program. We’ve been able to plant more than 7,000 trees in Indiana and have sequestered 47 million pounds of carbon dioxide since the program launched in April of 2016 and we’re excited to see where those numbers are this time next year.”


In the spring of 2016, the company launched Ricker’s Replenish, a program to reduce fuel emissions, powered by Atlanta-based GreenPrint. The program calculates the tailpipe emissions of every gallon pumped to a customer’s vehicle and then invests a corresponding amount in projects that remove the carbon from the atmosphere. This includes projects such as the Statehouse tree planting.


Click here to learn more about Ricker's Replenish program!