Batesville, In. — Big Oaks Conservation Society has invested in the future of Ripley County by establishing an endowment fund with the Ripley County Community Foundation. Big Oaks chose the Community Foundation’s annual Day of Giving matching event to start their fund because they received a 50% match on their donation from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s GIFT VII matching funds program.Big Oaks Conservation Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining and improving Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge. The Wildlife Refuge spans 50,000 acres, most of which are in Ripley County, and provides food and shelter to a variety of plant and animal species for the purpose of conserving and restoring biodiversity in the area. The Big Oaks Conservation Society, or Big Oaks Friend Group, shares the Wildlife Refuge’s mission and works to enhance public awareness of the refuge, develop environmental education, and support wildlife conservation and habitat restoration.The History of Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge and the Big Oaks Conservation Society is a unique one. The land encompassing Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge began as Jefferson Proving Ground and was established by the U.S. Army in 1940. The grounds acted as an ordnance testing installation, or an area where the Army tested bombs, but closed in 1995. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began managing the former Jefferson Proving Grounds in 1996 and Big Oaks Refuge was established in June 2000. Big Oaks Refuge functions as an “overlay” national wildlife refuge through a 25-year real estate permit from the U.S. Army. As an overlay refuge, the Army retains ownership and the Fish and Wildlife Service manages the property as Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge.The Endowment Fund started by the Big Oaks Conservation Society with the Ripley County Community Foundation will allow Big Oaks to continue their mission of conservation and ensure the sustainability and presence of the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge in the community.In October RCCF announced that it had received $500,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s GIFT VII initiative to use to match donations to RCCF. This matching opportunity has generated a great deal of interest and is available only while GIFT VII funds last. Citizens and organizations can take advantage of this opportunity to be a part of GIFT VII and use it to start new funds or to grow the fund of their choice. The Ripley County Community Foundation is located at 13 E. George Street, Suite B, Batesville, IN 47006, (812) 933-1098 get more information online here.
Former USC quarterback Sam Darnold, the third-overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, will most likely be the starter for the Jets. (Daily Trojan file photo)Former USC quarterback Sam Darnold will be the starting quarterback for the New York Jets for the Week 1 matchup against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 10, according to the NFL Network. He is the youngest quarterback to start a season opener in NFL history, at 21 years and 97 days old. Darnold was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, coming off a successful career at USC. In 2016, he led the Trojans to a nine-game win streak and a legendary Rose Bowl victory against Penn State. As a redshirt freshman, Darnold pulled off a 52-49 win to claim the title surrounded by current Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. In his two years at USC, he threw for a total of 7,229 yards and 57 touchdowns. He constantly struggled with turnovers but could still manage to pull off the win. Darnold’s USC career ended with a disappointing Cotton Bowl appearance where the Trojans were defeated 24-7 by Ohio State.When the NFL Draft rolled around, there was a high probability of Darnold going as the No. 1 pick to the Cleveland Browns; but the Browns went with Heisman Trophy winner and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield instead. The Jets took Darnold to become their next franchise player, and he was immediately placed in the New York spotlight to impress the coaches over the summer. “He’s everything you’re looking for in a young quarterback as far as the ability to go out there, and the game isn’t too big for him,” Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates told ESPN after preseason Week 3. “The stage isn’t too big for him. Really, when the lights come on, he gets better.”Darnold came out in the first two preseason games ready to show off his talent. In Week 1 of the preseason against the Atlanta Falcons, he led the team to a 17-0 win by throwing 96 yards and completing 13-of-18 passes. He topped off his debut by throwing his first NFL touchdown. Preseason Week 2 was less of a show, as Darnold compiled only 62 yards, one interception and no touchdowns. The rookie put up a 64.4 percent completion rate for 244 yards with two total touchdowns in preseason so far. Darnold has always had a calming presence on the field and an impressive ability to make reads, both areas in which he impressed the Jets staff. Darnold’s preseason starts were strong hints that he would take the starting spot, but it became obvious when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was traded to the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday. New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles and his staff expect to make the decision official after Thursday, when the Jets play the Philadelphia Eagles in their final preseason game.