Fall Creek Woods Natural Area is almost hidden, and even GPS doesn’t give accurate directions to the 80-acre park on Southeastern Parkway in Fishers’ Fall Creek Township. Once you’re there, though, it’s a beautifully developed site with restored prairie land, woods and trails along Fall Creek.
Amay Kulkarni chose that scenic park for his Eagle Scout project — the final accomplishment of his Scouting experience. He researched the flora and fauna natural to the area and put the information online. Three physical signs he designed and installed in the park offer a QR code that visitors can scan to directly access that information, along with another QR code that links to Kulkarni’s original music for hikers to listen to as they enjoy nature.
“For this project, I mainly just really wanted to challenge myself when making a project,” said Kulkarni, a senior at Hamilton Southeastern High School . “I realized that I wanted to do something different, but also something that I could put my own, like, personal touch on, which is why I wanted to put my own music on there.”
Kulkarni said he worked closely with Fall Creek Township board member Brian Baehl when brainstorming the design and how to implement Kulkarni’s vision.
“After that, I started working on researching the natural species of the area for the informational aspect,” he said. “At the same time, (I was) also creating music — creating relaxing kind of nature-theme music isn’t something that I’m usually used to. So, I had to do some listening and research for that, as well.”
Kulkarni also worked with a web developer for the digital piece of the project, he said, and gathered a team of volunteer Scouts to help assemble and install the signs, which are 2 feet square, angled and mounted on posts.
“We obviously had to dig a hole, 2-feet deep, put the posts in (and) fill it up with concrete so then it’d be sturdy in there,” he said. “And then we painted the posts.”
One of the signs is in the prairie area. Two others are along the forest trail — one offering information about the woods and the other about the creek.
Baehl said Kulkarni’s signs are the second Eagle Scout project at Fall Creek Woods — the first was a series of bluebird boxes. He said the high-tech features in Kulkarni’s project are unique, and he’s pleased with how the signs enhance the park and provide information for visitors through the links.
Baehl noted that the township wants the park to host more service projects like Kulkarni’s.
Kulkarni’s mother, Mehuli Kulkarni, said she’s happy her son chose to do this particular project, because it’s close to their home.
“Because as a parent, when they fly away (from) this nest — when he’s gone — we live very close to this, we will be walking this park and we will always be seeing here something that he has created,” she said. “And that makes us so proud.”
His father, Rajesh Kulkarni, said he encouraged his son to go for the Eagle Scout rank, telling him, “Scouting is fun, camping is fun, but Eagle (Scout) is a whole different level. Not everyone makes it, so if you want to get to the Eagle (Scout), then you have to kind of start integrating some of this in your mindset right now and start thinking about projects.”
Achieving the Eagle Scout rank involves a series of ranks and merit badges that must be achieved.
The family thanked a fellow Scout parent, Scoutmaster Al Kane. Mehuli Kulkarni said that as immigrants, she and her husband were not familiar with Scouts, and Kane helped them all.
“He was there with his kids as well, and he just has a personality where Amay felt very comfortable,” she said. “He was a very, very shy kid. We wanted him to go to Scouting because he was very introverted and very shy — very determined, but introverted. But he was very comfortable with Mr. Kane, and one of the reasons why we chose Troop 109 is because he was there.”
Amay Kulkarni said he appreciates the support of his parents, Baehl, Kane, all the people who donated to the project and his brother, Shlok.
“He’s definitely been my biggest support for my music,” Amay said. “He listens to everything I’ve made — probably hundreds of music files I have. And you know, all the music here I had him critique and judge. So, yes, he’s always been there for my music and for everything else.”
While Kulkarni’s Eagle Scout project is complete, it still needs to be submitted for final review. He said he’s waiting for a last few letters of recommendation before turning it in.
Fall Creek Woods Natural Area
The 80-acre Fall Creek Woods Natural Area has been developed by Fall Creek Township under the supervision of Trustee Doug Allman. The site offers about 3 miles of hiking trails. In September 2022, the township broke ground on new boardwalk bridges at the park, including switchbacks to provide pedestrian access to the top of steep ravines overlooking Fall Creek.
The property includes previous farmland that has been planted with native grasses and wildflowers. It is open to the public from dawn to dusk. No pets are allowed in the natural area.
For more about Fall Creek Woods Natural Area, visit fallcreektwp.com/fall-creek-woods.