The Falls of the Ohio Foundation provides important funding to help preserve the natural, cultural, and historical resources of the Falls of the Ohio area. Below is a listing of current programs, projects, and initiatives being supported by the Foundation – with thanks to the many donors and friends who make this all possible.
Our Mission: To be a collaborative force focused on elevating the awareness, recognition, and legacy of the Falls of the Ohio area.
Our Vision: To be visionary stewards of the world famous natural, cultural, and historical resources of the Falls of the Ohio area.
Elevate. Educate. Activate.: The Falls of the Ohio Foundation works towards our mission and vision by elevating the Falls area by improving the visitor experience and preserving it for future generations, educating our community on its significance, and activating it in ways that connect us to the stories of our past.
- Membership Program – Individual and Corporate Community Partners (Activate/Educate)
The Membership Program allows individuals and organizations to support the work of the Falls of the Ohio Foundation. Each donation towards a membership (or community partnership) directly impacts the work of the Foundation and allows it to host community engagements, cover the costs of educational programs, and take a leadership role on issues impacting the Falls of the Ohio area. Become a member!
- Engraved Bricks (Elevate)
The Engraved Brick program allows individuals or companies to receive recognition around the Interpretive Center. Bricks are great gifts for memorials or to honor someone special. New bricks are being placed around the flagpole at the Center’s circle drive. Each brick costs $100, or $90 for FOTOF members. Get your brick today.
- Family Paleontology Camp (Educate)
Designed for budding paleontologists ages 12 – 16, this camp focuses on how to become a paleontologist. Participants will experience the life of a paleontologist including everything from field collecting and cleaning fossils, studying, and photographing fossils, and writing in a field notebook throughout the camp. This three-day camp draws people from around the country. Learn more about the camp.
- Educational Experience Grants (Educate)
The Foundation sponsors educational experiences for area schools, removing the financial barrier that keeps many educational institutions from visiting the Falls of the Ohio State Park. Grants cover all admission and transportation. Annually, this program allows about 1,500 students to attend a Falls field trip at no cost. Learn more or apply.
- Weekend Program Grants (Educate/Activate)
The Falls of the Ohio State Park provides excellent weekend programming that highlights the natural and cultural resources of the Falls of the Ohio. For some of these programs the Foundation covers the program fee making the programs free for anyone in our community, removing the financial barrier that could limit individuals from experiencing and learning about the Falls. FOTOF sponsored programs include activities like the Family Nature Club, Art at the Falls, Junior Ranger Program, and others.
- Waldron Shale Project (Educate)
The Waldron Shale Project provides teachers with the training and materials to implement a hands-on paleontological activity where students can learn about earth science, the fossil record, and scientific methodology using actual fossils. This program is a partnership between Bellarmine University and the Falls of the Ohio State Park, with the Falls of the Ohio Foundation providing administrative support. Learn more.
- Convening Partner (Elevate)
As a convener the Falls of the Ohio Foundation brings together individuals, groups, and organizations who care about the Falls area. FOTOF engages a Leadership Council made up of local community and business leaders who have a heart for the beauty and historical value of the Falls of the Ohio area. In 2022 the Foundation began convening the River Parks Partners which is a group of organizations representing the various public spaces (parks, blueways, and greenways) in the Falls area. This strategic group of partners meets to discuss issues impacting the Falls area including the natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources.
- Falls of the Ohio State Park Support Grants (Elevate/Activate)
As a close partner, the Foundation also provides support grants to the Falls of the Ohio State Park. These grants come from donations that have been restricted for specific purposes and the Foundation’s own grant pool. Grants help support Park needs including bird food, routine maintenance, program support, or other needs.
- Member Events – (Activate/Educate)
Each year the Falls of the Ohio Foundation puts on periodic member events to encourage visitation and enjoyment of the Falls area. Events may include educational presentations or social gatherings which foster strong relationships with our supporters and provide a value-added benefit for members.
- LightFall – (Activate)
LightFall is a place where art and nature collide to ignite our interest in, and love of, the natural spaces that have shaped the origins of our community. Designed in partnership with the Falls of the Ohio Foundation and River Heritage Conservancy, LightFall 2021 connected people to the historically significant landscapes of our river parks through art installations that inspire exploration and creativity.
- Fishing Derby – (Activate)
In 2022, the Foundation began hosting a fishing derby to help highlight the recreational opportunities provided at the Falls of the Ohio area. The inaugural event brought 125 people (of all ages) out to fish the Falls. The Foundation looks to continue this event in future years!
- Rock the Rocks – (Activate)
This annual concert event is the Foundation’s largest single activation. The Foundation transitioned this from a more traditional nonprofit event with auctions, etc. to an outdoor concert featuring nationally touring artists to play a one-of-a-kind benefit concert on the fossil beds of the Falls of the Ohio.
- Louisville Tree Week – (Educate/Activate)
The Foundation first participated in Louisville Tree Week activities in 2022 with an October 15 Sunset Tree Hike that explored the native trees of the Falls of the Ohio and their impact on our ecosystem.
- Earth Day Cleanup Event – (Elevate/Educate)
The Foundation has partnered with a host of other regional organizations for a cleanup event at the Falls of the Ohio State Park and Louisville’s Shawnee Park. This event helped increase awareness of the Falls area and the need for conservation.
- Art at the Falls – (Activate)
Introduced for the first time 2022, Art at the Falls uses artists, including seasonal naturalist Mike Gibson, to provide art experiences and classes at the Falls of the Ohio. Participants get to engage in artistic activities that highlight the natural beauty of this state park while learning about its significant resources.
- Access 4 All App – (Elevate/Educate)
Access 4 All is a mobile application that allows individuals with hearing, visual, or sensory needs to experience the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center and learn about the stories shared through the exhibits. The app works by reading beacons placed throughout the Center’s exhibits and gives users descriptions and voice prompts to help learn and navigate through the Center.
- Falls of the Ohio Webcam – (Activate)
The Foundation received a grant from the Bales Foundation to purchase, install, and host a webcam which gives a 24/7 look at the Falls. Mounted over the deck at the Interpretive Center the camera pans from the dam gates to the lower fossil beds at the base of the stairs and gives visitors an opportunity to view water levels before coming to the Falls. The camera is particularly helpful for paddlers and anglers who depend on specific water levels for recreational activities.
- River Room Update – (Elevate/Educate/Activate)
With its panoramic view of the Falls, the River Room is the most beautiful room at the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center. To help bring temporary exhibits and increase attendance, the Foundation has added seating, two new exhibit cases, and tinted window film to this wonderful space. Next, we will be adding graphics to the soffits overhead which will show satellite images of the Falls area.
- Outdoor Education Pavilion – (Elevate/Educate)
Currently in the planning and fundraising stage, the Outdoor Education Pavilion will be a 2,300 square-foot, covered structure that creates defined outdoor learning and gathering space, and will include two restroom facilities. The Pavilion will allow for interpretive programs, field trips, and educational experiences for up to 90 people and will provide a great view of the Falls of the Ohio. It will also provide easy access to the parking lot, fossil beds, and Interpretive Center, and will meet all ADA requirements, include power and accessible outdoor Wi-Fi, and be available for special events. Learn more about the Education Pavilion!
- Outdoor Classroom – (Elevate/Educate)
In planning stages, the Outdoor Classroom will create an educational space under a tree canopy at the northwestern end of the parking lot. Currently, this grassy area is underused. The Outdoor Classroom and Tree Grove will add new, native trees to the Falls, and create an outdoor classroom with circular seating created out of large driftwood trees.
- Virtual Classroom/Meeting Room – (Educate)
In 2020 the Falls of the Ohio Foundation led the effort to create a virtual classroom at the Falls of the Ohio. The project included installation of top-of-the-line video conferencing equipment to assist with online programming and meetings. The virtual classroom can be used by interpretive naturalists to host Falls of the Ohio programs anywhere in the world. The equipment can also be used by local businesses and organizations for virtual meetings.
- Introductory Orientation Film – (Elevate)
The Falls of the Ohio’s introductory film was reimagined in 2018. This beautiful film introduces guests to what they will learn while exploring the exhibits at the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center. The film summarizes over 400 million years of history.