GREENFIELD — Everyone knows field trips are awesome.

Now there’s a fund with just that name, a way for the community to donate so every child at Harris Elementary School can experience hands-on museums, farms, zoos and more free of charge.

The new Field Trips Are Awesome fund is available through the Greenfield Central School Foundation, according to a press release from the G-C corporation.

Individuals, businesses and corporations have been giving to it already, making field trips free for at least one G-C elementary school. But the potential is endless.

“It’s kind of an easy sales pitch – everyone remembers going on field trips. They’re sometimes your favorite days of school,” said Joe Lonnemann, the driving force behind the project.

The idea started when the Harris Parent Teacher Organization was brainstorming ways to better support the school. For years they would subsidize field trips for families, so parents only paid a portion of the full cost. But Lonnemann suggested asking for donations from the community: parents would appreciate not paying anything at all, and it would free up money for the PTO to do other great projects at the school, like care for teachers and classrooms.

Lonnemann, a commercial real estate broker, said he knew of several people that would be happy to give so local students could attend field trips. He is quick to say it’s a team effort as everyone on the PTO along with teachers and administration were on board to launch the idea.

“It was a truly selfless and incredible idea and everyone has benefited from it,” said Tara Hansen, president of the PTO. “He is so humble and says, ‘Oh, it’s just for the kids.’”

Students this year have enjoyed experiences at Tuttle Orchards, Conner Prairie, the Indianapolis Zoo and downtown Greenfield to participate in the Riley Festival’s parade of flowers. Third-grade students even visited the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

“The students were wide-eyed and on the edge of their seats when the music started,” said music teacher Mary Buckalew. “There is nothing like the sound of a live symphony orchestra!”

Principal Sarah Greulich said the fund has been a great partnership. It even helps pay for transportation costs for Functional Academic students to attend monthly community outings to the bowling alley.

“As the pandemic was leveling out and some activities were returning to normal, we reflected on how some of our students might have been in school for two to three years and had never been on a field trip out of Harris or even enjoyed a school convocation,” she said. “The world is full of wonder and excitement and we wanted them to be able to see it. We are committed to helping our students explore more in their education, and field trips are a great way to make learning come alive.”

While field trips are generally heavily subsidized by PTOs to make them feasible for parents, Superintendent Dr. Harold Olin said he is incredibly grateful for the vision of the Harris PTO and the Lonnemann family to making it happen. Free field trips not only helps families, he said, but also allows teachers to think outside of the box regarding the types of experiences that will be beneficial to students.

The idea might spread. Each school’s PTO has its own set of values and priorities, but in the end they all want to find ways to support students and enhance the school experience, Olin said.

“I do think the success of this program at Harris will intrigue some of our other PTOs to the point that they will investigate this option,” he said.

For more information or to donate, visit and click on the drop-down menu to “Field Trips Are Awesome.”