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Tag Archive | "Howard Christensen Nature Center"

What does the fox…eat?


OUT-Nature-center1

By David A Kieft, Howard Christensen Nature Center

I suppose the fox eats whatever he wants to eat, when it’s available. But that is indeed just the simple answer. As a child I was always outdoors, something I know my own daughter cannot say nearly enough. As I spent time outdoors, I learned things that aren’t often “well known” facts about our wildlife, habitats, plants and the multiple ecosystems we have in Michigan.

I grew up in Jenison with gravel pits (and an abundance of wild nature) right in my backyard. It was here, in my adolescent traipsing, that I learned such useless facts as: groundhogs can climb trees; Blandings turtles use their yellow necks to attract insects for lunch; goldfish can survive in Michigan’s waters; I can’t swim against the current of the Grand River; and the Eastern Hognose snake backs down when you call his bluff. At the family cottage near Baldwin, I continued learning about animals like Purple Martins, Red Head Woodpeckers and yep, more snakes. I would spend every waking minute outdoors (or reading about it when Mom wouldn’t let me out) and to this day my favorite thing to do when I’m not cooking or sitting at my HCNC desk is to get outside and continue learning (mostly about snakes because they are awesome).

But it also saddens me that in today’s day in age, less than 35 years from my good ol’ days, we have seen a shift in the characteristics of youth; liability seems to be a hot topic for businesses like gravel pits; and parents guard their children ever more. One can no longer roam the gravel mines; after hours problems have shut parks down earlier; funding has closed some of the greatest places we’ve known as kids ourselves; and parents feel safer with their kids at home more (even I can attest to that). But, that is where Howard Christensen Nature Center comes in.

OUT-Nature-center2Now, I may be biased, but hear me out. HCNC has been no exception to the current times, as a not for profit, we too struggle with funding and after hours problems. But our first priority is to get people outdoors more, to learn, to teach and enjoy. Did you know that our weekly Wild Wednesday programs offer-learning experiences that will enhance your child’s senses, interest and knowledge of the wild world around us? Were you aware that once a month we host family friendly programs that aren’t always “nature oriented” but are still designed to get you out? Have you heard that a walk in the woods can ease anxiety and stress? Did you know that even though I keep bees I am deathly afraid of insects in general? If you answered no to any of the above, the answers await you at HCNC. If you think you are too old for Wild Wednesdays, check out “Mom’s Night Out” where we make a few premade frozen meals to lighten your schedule at home or simply stop in and take a walk on some of our dozen miles of trails, visit me during the day and ask to see my bees! There are so many things to do at Howard Christensen that I cannot share them all here, but I urge you, beg you even, to come out and visit; buy a membership and visit often or bring your young ones to a day camp.

Here are some pictures from a couple of our recent day camps that show the joy on the faces of those who get out to learn and enjoy nature at HCNC. Ask them, I’ll bet they know what the fox eats!

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Rogue River Butterfly Count 


By Ranger Steve Mueller

The European Skipper butterfly was in great abundance during this year’s Rogue River butterfly count.

The European Skipper butterfly was in great abundance during this year’s Rogue River butterfly count.

The weather was great with sunny skies and little wind. New participants enjoyed butterflies, learned identification and associations with nature niche habitats. We met at the Howard Christensen Nature Center for our 29th year at 9 a.m. The counting began at HCNC’s Welcome Center. The group car-pooled to various areas in the Rogue River State Game Area. We visited the highest elevation in Kent County at Fisk Knob where we anticipated “hill topping” Black Swallowtails.

Hill topping is a behavior where butterflies fly to the highest location in the area and increase their chance for finding a mate. Not all butterflies exhibit this behavior. During the day, butterfly behavior was observed and described to help make the count a wonderful experience. Larval host plants were inspected for caterpillars or eggs. Both Viceroy eggs and larva were found. Most time was spent looking for adults and counting individuals of each species. European Skippers were in greatest abundance.

The total number of species observed has varied over the 29 years from 18 to 43. Weather affects butterfly activity. Sunny days with little or no wind in the 70’s and 80’s is ideal. Adults often emerge from pupae following a soaking rain. Activity is closely linked with blooming of nectar sources. Consider joining in 2017. Watch the Nature Niche column for next year’s dates for the Allegan, Muskegon, and Rogue River State Game Area Counts as well as the Newaygo Count in the Manistee National Forest. Books and internet web sites help but most of us learn best by exploring the real world. Time outdoors is most enjoyable, healthy, provides family time and creates wonderful memories.

See Table 1 for this year’s Rogue River Count discoveries. Results for the other counts will be posted on the West Michigan Butterfly Association (WMBA) Web Site in August. Consider becoming a member of WMBA. Membership fee is $5/yr. A check can be sent to the treasurer’s address posted on the web site (http://www.graud.org/wmba.html). The date for the Muskegon count has been rescheduled to July 17 2016 from July 24. Visit the WMBA web site for location details.

Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary is the last place we visited after diligently searching all day. I am always hopeful we will be able to find at least one species we have not discovered elsewhere. This year we saw three additional species. They were Eastern Comma, Eyed Brown, and Harvester. We work to enhance the greatest biodiversity possible at Ody Brook and the work is successful.

During count week (3 days before and after the count) we also added Common Wood Nymph and Silver-spotted Skipper that were not sighted on count day.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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Hometown Happenings


Hometown Happenings articles are a community service for non-profit agencies only. Due to popular demand for placement in this section, we can no longer run all articles. Deadline for articles is Monday at 5 p.m. This is not guaranteed space. Articles will run as space allows. Guaranteed placement is $10, certain restrictions may apply. You now can email your Hometown Happenings to happenings@cedarspringspost.com please include name and phone number for any questions we may have.

16th Annual Memorial Cemetery Walk

May 29: The Cedar Springs Historical Society is holding its 16th annual Memorial Cemetery walk on Sunday, May 29th at 2 pm to honor veterans of all wars. This years’ veterans will be Ebenezer Jewell, War of 1812; John Roys, Mexican War; Myron Fogleson, Civil War; Joe Osborne, Spanish-American War; Franklin Sheldon, World War I; Kenneth Winters, World War II; Rex Morris, Korean War; Timothy Towns, Vietnam War. Biographical and historical information will be presented at each gravesite. The Glen Hill Post of the American Legion honor guard will assist at the presentation. We will leave from the museum in Morley Park at 1:30 pm and return there for refreshments. In case of severe weather warnings we will cancel the event. In case of rain we will do the presentations in the museum. #20,21p

DIY Spa for Teens

June 4,13: Make a variety of spa products from simple ingredients that you can take home, such as sugar and oatmeal scrubs, fizzy bath bombs and silky body lotion. Pre-registration is required for teens grades 6-12. Call 877-243-2466 to pre-register. Saturday, June 4th at 11 am at the Spencer Township KDL Branch, 14960 Meddler Ave., Gowen. Monday, June 13th at 1:30 pm at the Nelson Township/Sand Lake KDL Branch, 88 Eighth St.  #21

Fresh Food Fairy

June 7: Meet this Fresh Food Fairy and her amazing smoothie bike! She’ll help you whip up a tasty treat and teach you all about healthy eating. The first 75 kids will receive a treat bag. For ages 6 and older. Tuesday, June 7th at 6 pm at Spencer Township KDL Branch, 14960 Meddler Ave., Gowen. #21

Help Promote Literacy

June 9: The need is urgent at this time! The Literacy Center of West Michigan has scheduled and information session on Thursday, June 9th, for prospective volunteer tutors. This session is held at 6 pm and lasts one hour. It allows persons interested in becoming volunteer tutors to find out more about the Center and its literacy programs. At the end of the session there will be an opportunity to sign up for tutor training. By training people to be tutors, the Center can offer one-on-one reading help to adults asking for assistance in reading or English as a Second Language (ESL). You do not need to speak another language to tutor ESL. The Center is located at 1120 Monroe Ave., NW, Suite 240, Grand Rapids. Please call 616-459-5151 (ext. 10) or email us at info@literacycenterwm.org to register. #21

Nazareth Vacation Bible School at Solon Center Wesleyan Church

June 12: Hey kids! Come for VBS beginning Sunday evening, June 12th from 6:30 – 8 pm. It’s family Night, so bring the whole family to enjoy the fun of the Double KK Petting zoo (weather permitting) and a hot dog roast. VBS continues through Thursday where you’ll make new friends, sing great songs, play fun games, experience Nazareth…where Jesus was a Kid and visit the market places of His home town. Monday through Thursday VBS is for children 4 years old through the 5th grade. Please pre-register by calling the church office @ 696-3229 or online at http://scwchurch.com/#/get-connected/vbs-registration. The church is located at 15671 Algoma Avenue, just north of 19 Mile Road. Come join the fun! #21-23p

Alpha Family Center Annual LifeWalk

June 18: Cedar Springs Alpha Family Center will host its annual LifeWalk Events on Saturday, June 18th at Morley Park in Cedar Street. 5K LifeRun at 8:30 am, Kid’s FunRun at 9:15 am and LifeWalk at 10:00 am, and Baby Bottle Blessing change drive now thru June 19th. LifeWalk is a great time for families which includes a coloring contest for ages 3-10 (deadline to enter is June 1st ), a clown, face painting, balloons, refreshments, door prizes and the chance for everyone to help local families in a very real way. To participate in LifeWalk 2016 pick up your pledge form, a baby bottle for the change drive and an entry form for the coloring contest by stopping into Alpha on Mondays 11 to 5 pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays 10 – 4 pm. For more information you may call 616-696-2616. #20,21p

Summer Solstice Run with the Sun 3k

June 21: Celebrate the longest day of the year with a Cross Country 3k at Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16160 Red Pine Dr., Kent City. Tuesday, June 21st at 7 pm for registration. Water and post run refreshments provided. All runners receive a T-Shirt and entry into prize drawings. Medals and prizes for top 3 in each of 4 categories. Pre-register by June 14th. Cost: $15, members $10. Registration received June 14th to race day $20. www.HowardChristensen.org, 616-675-3158. #21

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Hometown Happenings


Hometown Happenings articles are a community service for non-profit agencies only. Due to popular demand for placement in this section, we can no longer run all articles. Deadline for articles is Monday at 5 p.m. This is not guaranteed space. Articles will run as space allows. Guaranteed placement is $10, certain restrictions may apply. You now can email your Hometown Happenings to happenings@cedarspringspost.com please include name and phone number for any questions we may have.

Praise the Lord at Cowboy Church

May 22: 2nd Chance will be having Cowboy Church on Sunday, May 22nd at 6 pm. It will be at 2nd Chance School at 810 – 17 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs (corner of 17 Mile and Olin Lakes Rd). The message will be shared by Harvey and Patti Becker, who will be sharing their music with us. Invite your family and friends. Cowboy Church will be every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. Each service will have different people sharing God’s word and music. If you have questions, call 616-293-2150. See you there! #20

Senior Lunch at Pine Grove Community Church

May 25: Pine Grove Senior Café would be honored for all Seniors age 60 and over to come celebrate our Veterans both those who are still here with us, those who have given the utmost and those who live on in our memory.  We would also be honored to serve a meal of Salisbury steak, a Veggie and bread topped off with Orangesicle cookie bars for desert.  Lunch will be served Wednesday May 25th at Noon in our Family Life Center on the northwest corner of M-82 & Beech. #20

16th Annual Memorial Cemetery Walk

May 29: The Cedar Springs Historical Society is holding its 16th annual Memorial Cemetery walk on Sunday, May 29th at 2 pm to honor veterans of all wars. This years’ veterans will be Ebenezer Jewell, War of 1812; John Roys, Mexican War; Myron Fogleson, Civil War; Joe Osborne, Spanish-American War; Franklin Sheldon, World War I; Kenneth Winters, World War II; Rex Morris, Korean War; Timothy Towns, Vietnam War. Biographical and historical information will be presented at each gravesite. The Glen Hill Post of the American Legion honor guard will assist at the presentation. We will leave from the museum in Morley Park at 1:30 pm and return there for refreshments. In case of severe weather warnings we will cancel the event. In case of rain we will do the presentations in the museum. #20,21p

HCNC Summer Camps

June 14: Beginning June 14th Howard Christensen Nature Center will be holding summer camps. Capture the Flag Camp – June 14-16, Animal Adaptations I – June 20-24, Nature Artists – June 27-30, Team Building I – July 11-15, Jr. Backpacking – July 19-20 (overnight), Archery Camp – July 26-28, Survival Camp I – July 28-29 (overnight), Team Building II – August 1-5, Animal Adaptations II – August 8-12, Survival Camp II – August 18-19 (overnight). Visit the website for more information, www.HowardChristensen.org. The nature center is located at 16160 Red Pine Dr., Kent City. 616-675-3158. #20

Alpha Family Center Annual LifeWalk

June 18: Cedar Springs Alpha Family Center will host its annual LifeWalk Events on Saturday, June 18th at Morley Park in Cedar Street. 5K LifeRun at 8:30 am, Kid’s FunRun at 9:15 am and LifeWalk at 10:00 am, and Baby Bottle Blessing change drive now thru June 19th. LifeWalk is a great time for families which includes a coloring contest for ages 3-10 (deadline to enter is June 1st ), a clown, face painting, balloons, refreshments, door prizes and the chance for everyone to help local families in a very real way. To participate in LifeWalk 2016 pick up your pledge form, a baby bottle for the change drive and an entry form for the coloring contest by stopping into Alpha on Mondays 11 to 5 pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays 10 – 4 pm. For more information you may call 616-696-2616. #20,21p

HCNC Cooking With The Stars

June 25: Howard Christensen Nature Center is seeking 8 students to compete with local celebrity chefs in this “Cutthroat Camp” “Chopped” style competition. To apply contact the office, 616-675-3158. Spectators welcome $10 tickets.  #20

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Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche: Howard Christensen Nature Center


By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve

The Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC) has developed a cadre of community programs under the leadership of Dave Kieft. Weekend, spring break, and summer camps are part of the variety. Family events meet the interests for all family members. School programming is increasing.

Individual and family memberships provide opportunity for people to visit everyday of the week at no additional fee. Swamp boardwalks lead to where spring frog chorus is a highlight just before dusk. Learn about additional HCNC membership benefits at the office or web site.

One can slowly approach Vernal Pond near the Red Pine Interpretive Center and frogs will quiet. You might see their heads retreat beneath the surface. Stop, sit, and wait less than three minutes and a brave Spring Peeper will begin a single peep. Soon others will feel safe and a massive chorus will fill the air.

While you are sitting, cup your hands behind your ears to enlarge your sound catching ear pinnae. The sound will become so painfully loud you will unable to continue with hands cupped behind your ears. Rotate hands so the cup is facing behind you. The back of your hands in front of ears reduces a large amount of sound from reaching and hurting your vibrating eardrums.

When you leave Vernal Pond, discuss how valuable movable ear pinnae are for dogs, foxes, squirrels, deer, and other mammals. They allow gathering of specific directional sound. Mammals are able to determine exactly where danger might approach. Notice Vernal Pond has more frogs than nearby Tadpole Pond. Vernal ponds are more important for frog survival than permanent ponds and lakes.

Predators approach prey quietly but a rustle of leaves, a broken twig, or even brushing against a shrub can alert mammals because ear pinnae enhance sound. People cannot move ear pinnae but we can use our hands to demonstrate the effectiveness of movable pinnae.

It was always my expectation when director at HCNC to share space with creatures that make the nature center home. We maintained a single file pathway along the west side of Vernal Pond from beech tree to driveway. The east shoreline was reserved for frogs and other creatures with no human disturbance.

Green Frogs sat frozen like statues. On the west shore, frogs submerge as we approached or they would jump frightened into the pond. Some would stay motionless ready to escape. They blended well with shoreline vegetation. East shore frogs waited still and quiet until we left the pond.

Green Frogs begin singing much later in the season when temperatures approach 70 F. Wood Frogs are mostly done singing by early April. Spring Peepers and Western Chorus Frogs continue song through April. Unfortunately, Western Chorus Frogs have declined in our area. It is a reason to leave some pond borders free of disturbance for native species. We worked to help people recognize we are visitors in wildlife nature niches and encouraged living with nature instead of crowding animals from homes in ponds, streams, forests, fields, and our yards. Small vernal ponds are essential with fewer predators.

Seeing animals is difficult without entering their home but we can provide minimal disturbance that allows habitats to remain healthy. That is a primary reason for restricting activity to one half of Vernal Pond. It allows vegetation to grow to pond edge and provides frogs with healthy living space in appropriate arrangement for food, water, and shelter to meet survival needs.

Please become an HCNC member. Discover frogs by walking nature center trails maintained for school and family groups in wild habitats. Make real world connections that would otherwise be vicariously through books, digital screens, or stories about the natural world. Enjoy being outdoors with wildlife.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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Hometown Happenings


Hometown Happenings articles are a community service for non-profit agencies only. Due to popular demand for placement in this section, we can no longer run all articles. Deadline for articles is Monday at 5 p.m. This is not guaranteed space. Articles will run as space allows. Guaranteed placement is $10, certain restrictions may apply. You now can email your Hometown Happenings to happenings@cedarspringspost.com please include name and phone number for any questions we may have.

Fish Fry

Mar. 18: Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church, 10295 Myers Lake Ave., is hosting a Fish Fry on Friday, March 18th from 4:30 to 7 pm. Battered fried fish, baked potato or fresh-cut French fries, cole slaw, coffee and punch, dessert. 3 pieces – $9, 2 pieces – $7, 1 piece – $5. Eat in or carry out. 616-866-4298. #10,11p

Annual En Gedi Auction

Mar. 18: Come Be Refreshed! Friday, March 18th with the High School cafeteria doors opening at 6 pm. This year’s event has many great items for you to choose from to include furniture, MSU football and basketball tickets, private golf session by MSU Coach Casey Lubahn, hotel stays, fine dining certificates, tools, hand-made dolls, private wild turkey and pheasant hunts, clothing, wood pellets, puzzles, and much more!!!! With a $10 entry donation you can enjoy delicious appetizers while you browse the items on the silent and live auction table. All funds earned on this event will be matched by CS Manufacturing. En Gedi is a Christ-centered non-profit organization providing a FREE after school youth center, special high school and community events with a focus on building family. Donations of services or products (all are appreciated are greatly needed. Contact Sue Wolfe at 696-2246 or SueQ@hughes.net for tickets or for donation pick-ups. #10,11p

Lions Club Pancake Breakfast

Mar. 19: The Cedar Springs Lions Club’s Pancake Breakfast will be held this Saturday on March 19th from 7 – 11 am at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, on the corner of Main and Church. Adults $8 and Family $25. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, juice, coffee. All you can eat. The next planned date is April 16th. Proceeds to assist sight conservation. #11

Mom2Mom Sale

Mar. 19: The Resurrection Lutheran Church, 180 S. Third St., Sand Lake is hosting a Mom2Mom sale on Saturday, March 19th from 9 am to 1 pm. For questions regarding the sale, please contact Nichole at 616-263-9662. #10,11p

Annual Church Garage Sale

Mar. 19: Rockford Reformed Church, 4890 – 11 Mile Rd., Rockford, will be hosting their Annual Church Garage Sale on Saturday, March 19th from 9 am to 3 pm. Proceeds will go towards the youth ministries summer trips. For more information, call Deb Coon at 616-866-4829. #11p

Roast Beef Dinner

Mar. 20: The Rockford American Legion Post 102 on the corner of Northland Dr. and Rockford Park Dr. (330 Rockford Park Dr.), will be hosting a roast beef dinner on Sunday March 20th and every 3rd Sunday of each month. Open to the public. We will be serving roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans, coleslaw, rolls, dessert, coffee and punch. Reasonably priced at $9 for adults, kids age 4 to 12 for $7 and under 4 years are free. Serving from 11am to 3 pm. See ya there and bring the family! #10,11p

Dinner at the Legion

Mar. 21: American Legion, 80 S. Main St. Cedar Springs, is hosting a roast beef and onion dinner on Monday, March 21st, from 5 – 7 pm. Included will be mashed potatoes, veggies, roll, drink and dessert. The cost is $9 for adults, children (15 and younger) $4.00. Come and enjoy home cooking. Take out is available. 616-696-9160.  #11p

Good Friday Walk and Remember 

Mar. 25: Walk to each of the Sand Lake Village Churches and listen to the thoughts of characters that experienced the crucifixion first hand. Friday, March 25th from noon to 1:30 pm. Our walk begins at Resurrection Lutheran Church (just south of town on Northland Dr.), with stops at the Full Gospel Church, Downtown Pavilion, Mary Queen of Apostles, and the United Methodist Church. Transportation will be provided back to the Lutheran Church. Children and families are encouraged to join us. #10-12p

Easter Egg-Stravaganza

Mar. 26: An Easter Egg-Stravaganza, a celebration for children will be held on Saturday, March 26th from 1 to 2:30 pm at the Solon Center Wesleyan Church. All children 10 years and under are invited to attend. There’ll be games, an Easter Egg hunt, and a special Easter presentation. Two bicycles will be given away as grand prizes! For more information go to: scwchurch.com or call the church office  at 616-696-3229. The church is located at 15671 Algoma Ave., just north of 19 Mile Rd. All welcome! #11,12p

Learn to Play the Ukulele

Mar. 30: During this hour and a half workshop you will learn the basics of playing the Ukulele. This fun and relaxed program will teach you the basic chords, rhythm and strumming you’ll need to play a few songs by the end of the workshop. Our instructor, Dean Wiers-Windemuller of Southtown Guitar will lead the hands-on workshop. Players of all levels are welcome and no prior experience is necessary. Pre-registration is required. For teens grades 6-12. Wednesday, March 30th at 3:30 pm at the Nelson Township/Sand Lake KDL Branch, 88 Eighth St., 616-636-4251. #11

HCNC’s Spring Break Day Camp

Apr. 4: Spring Break 2016 is right around the corner! Howard Christensen Nature Center’s Spring Day Camp begins on April 4th and runs the entire week. Crafts, exploring the property, and getting up close  and personal with animals only begins to scratch the surface of this fun filled week! Registration is now open. HCNC is located at 16160 Red Pine Dr., Kent City, 616-675-3158. www.howardchristiansen.org. #11

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Hometown Happenings


Hometown Happenings articles are a community service for non-profit agencies only. Due to popular demand for placement in this section, we can no longer run all articles. Deadline for articles is Monday at 5 p.m. This is not guaranteed space. Articles will run as space allows. Guaranteed placement is $10, certain restrictions may apply. You now can email your Hometown Happenings to happenings@cedarspringspost.com please include name and phone number for any questions we may have.

Blood Drive for Lizzie August

Mar. 10: Donate blood in honor of Elizabeth August. Lizzie was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 4 in 2009 and during her treatments she has received 13 red blood and 29 platelet transfusions along with 2 bone marrow transplants. She is now 11 and in remission. There are so many more who need our help. Come donate blood to honor her journey and the journeys of all the young children fighting their own battles. Creative Technologies Academy, 350 Pine St., Cedar Springs on Thursday, March 10th from 1 to 6:45 pm. To schedule an call Jennifer August at 616-799-0559. Come donate blood and register with Delete Blood Cancer to be part of the bone marrow donor registry. American Red Cross, 800-733-2767, redcrossblood.org. #10

Praise the Lord at Cowboy Church

Mar. 13: 2nd Chance will be having Cowboy Church on Sunday, March 13th at 6 pm. It will be at 2nd Chance School at 810 – 17 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs (corner of 17 Mile and Olin Lakes Rd). The message will be shared by Pinky Hosford who has an amazing testimony to share, Music will be shared by Gospel Singers, Larry, Deb, George and Ray, traditional country and gospel singers. Invite your family and friends. Cowboy Church will be every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. Each service will have different people sharing God’s word and music. If you have questions, call 616-293-2150. See you there! #10

Job Seekers Workshop

Mar. 14, 28, Apr. 11, 25: Kent District Library and Michigan Works! Present free Workshops for Job Seekers. Workshops are on Mondays from 1 0 3 pm at the Nelson Township/Sand Lake KDL Branch.  March 14th: Resume Development Workshop, March 28th: Interviewing Workshop, April 11th: Brand: You!, April 25th: Communications Skills. For more information, please visit www.kdl.org/events or call KDL at 616-784-2007 or 877-243-2466 (toll free). #9,10p

Dinner at the Legion

Mar. 14: American Legion, 80 S. Main St. Cedar Springs, is hosting a roast beef and onion dinner on Monday, March 14th, from 5 – 7 pm. Included will be mashed potatoes, veggies, roll, drink and dessert. The cost is $9 for adults, children (15 and younger) $4.00. Come and enjoy home cooking. Take out is available. 616-696-9160.  #10p

Michigan Blood Drive

Mar. 15: The Cedar Springs United Methodist Church will host a blood drive on Tuesday, March 15th from 12:30 pm until 7 pm. Is your blood really red or is it green enough to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as Irish? Find out. Attempt to donate and you could also potentially help three people in need. The Blood Center thanks all the people that attempt to donate. #10

Dinner at East Nelson UMC

Mar. 16: East Nelson United Methodist Church, 9024 – 18 Mile Rd., is hosting a Ham Dinner on Wednesday, March 16th from 5 to7 pm. The menu will include: ham, cabbage, red potatoes, carrots, relish tray, rolls, homemade desserts. Everyone is invited. Donations accepted. #10

Fish Fry

Mar. 18: Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church, 10295 Myers Lake Ave., is hosting a Fish Fry on Friday, March 18th from 4:30 to 7 pm. Battered fried fish, baked potato or fresh-cut French fries, cole slaw, coffee and punch, dessert. 3 pieces – $9, 2 pieces – $7, 1 piece – $5. Eat in or carry out. 616-866-4298. #10,11p

Annual En Gedi Auction

Mar. 18: Come Be Refreshed! Friday, March 18th with the High School cafeteria doors opening at 6 pm. This year’s event has many great items for you to choose from to include furniture, MSU football and basketball tickets, private golf session by MSU Coach Casey Lubahn, hotel stays, fine dining certificates, tools, hand-made dolls, private wild turkey and pheasant hunts, clothing, wood pellets, puzzles, and much more!!!! With a $10 entry donation you can enjoy delicious appetizers while you browse the items on the silent and live auction table. All funds earned on this event will be matched by CS Manufacturing. En Gedi is a Christ-centered non-profit organization providing a FREE after school youth center, special high school and community events with a focus on building family. Donations of services or products (all are appreciated are greatly needed. Contact Sue Wolfe at 696-2246 or SueQ@hughes.net for tickets or for donation pick-ups. #10,11p

Pancake Breakfast 

Mar. 19: The Courtland Fire Department, 7480 – 14 Mile Rd., will be hosting their annual pancake breakfast on Saturday, March 19th from 8 – 11 am. The fire department will be serving pancakes, eggs, hash browns, sausage, juice, milk, coffee and tea. Adults – $7.00, Children 4-12 – $4.00, 3 and under are free. #10

Quilt Show Library Friends Fundraiser

Mar. 19: Saturday, March 19th from 10 am to 4 pm. Show your quilt! Last Call! Do you have a quilt that you want to show in the 4th Annual Friends of the Library Quilt Show? Call Barb at 616-236-9500 or Louise at 616-696-1376 to still get your quilt in the show. Quilts may be delivered to the Cedar Springs Middle School on Friday, March 18th between 4 and 6 pm or Saturday, March 18th between 7:30 and 9 am. Attendees will vote for their favorite quilts in each of the two categories, general and antique ( at least 50 years old). Admission is $2 per person and in addition to the quilt show there will be trunk shows for Red Button Quilt Co. and Blueberry Backroads, a silent auction, a quilting garage sale and a raffle quilt. Raffle tickets are available at the Cedar Springs Public Library, Luv2Quilt on 14 Mile and at the show. See you there. #10

Mom2Mom Sale

Mar. 19: The Resurrection Lutheran Church, 180 S. Third St., Sand Lake is hosting a Mom2Mom sale on Saturday, March 19th from 9 am to 1 pm. For questions regarding the sale, please contact Nichole at 616-263-9662. #10,11p

Roast Beef Dinner

Mar. 20: The Rockford American Legion Post 102 on the corner of Northland Dr. and Rockford Park Dr. (330 Rockford Park Dr.), will be hosting a roast beef dinner on Sunday March 20th and every 3rd Sunday of each month. Open to the public. We will be serving roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans, coleslaw, rolls, dessert, coffee and punch. Reasonably priced at $9 for adults, kids age 4 to 12 for $7 and under 4 years are free. Serving from 11am to 3 pm. See ya there and bring the family! #10,11p

Good Friday Walk and Remember

Mar. 25: Walk to each of the Sand Lake Village Churches and listen to the thoughts of characters that experienced the crucifixion first hand. Friday, March 25th from noon to 1:30 pm. Our walk begins at Resurrection Lutheran Church (just south of town on Northland Dr.), with stops at the Full Gospel Church, Downtown Pavilion, Mary Queen of Apostles, and the United Methodist Church. Transportation will be provided back to the Lutheran Church. Children and families are encouraged to join us. #10-12p

HCNC Easter Egg Hunt w/Brunch

Mar. 26: Howard Christensen Nature Center will hold it’s 6th Annual Easter Egg Hunt with Brunch on Saturday, March 26th. Brunch will be served from noon to 2 pm. The Easter Egg Hunt begins promptly for all ages at 2 pm. Brunch is $5 per person or $20 per family of 4 or more and includes the Easter Egg Hunt. Easter Egg Hunting only $1 per egg hunter. Members are free. 16160 Red Pine Dr., Kent City, 616-675-3158. www.howardchristiansen.org. #10

CS Community Players Mystery Trivia

Mar. 30: The Cedar Springs Community Players are pleased to announce “Murder at the Kent”, a collection of three one act plays which will be performed at the Kent Theatre on March 30th, 31st, and April 1st.  The plays are Sorry, Wrong Number, Heat Lightning, and The Man who Died Twice.  These short, thrilling plays will delight the mystery lovers and send shivers down the spines of the audience.  And since every good mystery story requires some anticipation, the Players have devised a series of mystery themed trivia to build up the suspense before opening night.  These questions will appear in The Cedar Springs Post each week in the month before the production, starting on March 3rd.  Solve the riddles and bring your answers to one of the performances at the Kent Theatre to be entered to win prizes that night. #10p

Community Night

Apr. 21: Cedar Springs Community Night is April 21st and registration is underway. The deadline for registration is March 25th. Forms are online at www.csaparksandrec.com or you can call 616-696-7320. #10b

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Hometown Happenings


Hometown Happenings articles are a community service for non-profit agencies only. Due to popular demand for placement in this section, we can no longer run all articles. Deadline for articles is Monday at 5 p.m. This is not guaranteed space. Articles will run as space allows. Guaranteed placement is $10, certain restrictions may apply. You now can email your Hometown Happenings to happenings@cedarspringspost.com please include name and phone number for any questions we may have.


Free Nutritional Options for Wellness

N.O.W. (Nutritional Options for Wellness) program held at Solon Center Wesleyan Church Food Pantry. Teaching disease self-management and healthy habits to those in need. Partnering with Access of West Michigan, we offer healthy food and nutrition education classes to low-income individuals who suffer from one of the following diseases: Cardiovascular, Diabetes, COPD, Renal Disease, Celiac Disease. Talk to your doctor today for referral into the program. For general questions, please call Nancy at Access of West Michigan, 616-774-2175 ext. 109. #49,50p

“American Graffiti” fundraiser for CS Library

Dec. 11: The Kent Theatre is hosting a movie as a fundraising event for the new Cedar Springs Library on Friday, December 11th at 7 pm. For this event we will be showing the George Lucas film “American Graffiti”. This classic “coming of age” film about life in the early 1960s stars Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams, Wolfman Jack and many, many more. Come join us at the Kent Theatre for a fun and nostalgia filled evening and raise money for a great cause! Tickets are $5 each and 100% of the money raised will go to the new library. #48, 49p

Praise the Lord at Cowboy Church

Dec. 13: 2nd Chance will be having Cowboy Church starting Sunday, December 13th at 6 pm. It will be at 2nd Chance School at 810 – 17 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs, corner of 17 Mile and Olin Lakes Rd. The message will be shared by Bob “Toad” Cook, from Big Rapids, Michigan, retired Professional Rodeo Barrelman, who has an amazing testimony to share. The music will be provided by Ron Lynnes, from White Cloud, Michigan. Invite your family and friends. Cowboy Church will be every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. There will be no service on December 27th so you can celebrate the Christmas weekend with your family. If you have questions, call 616-293-2150. #49

Michigan Blood Drive

Dec. 15: A Michigan Blood Drive will be held on Tuesday, December 15th at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church from 12:30 to 7 pm. What a better Christmas gift than to give someone a blood donation. Each unit donated has the potential to help three people. The cost to you is an hour of your time. Cedar Springs Women’s Club will be providing homemade cookies. #49

Christmas Fund Distribution

Dec. 16: Due to the generosity of the late Evelyn Cossin, there are limited funds available again this year to assist some families in need for Christmas. The funds are available only to families living in the Cedar Springs city limits. Please send or bring letters requesting assistance to: Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, 140 S. Main St., PO Box K, Cedar Springs, MI 49319, C/O – Janet Avery. All letters should include some brief summary of your need for assistance. Letters must be received NO LATER THAN, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16th. **Note: If awarded some assistance, we will send you a letter informing you of your pick up times of 10am –noon and 7pm – 8pm on Wednesday, December 23rd at Cedar Springs UMC. All letters received will receive some notification of acceptance or denial of assistance. #49

Gingerbread Lane at Two KDL Branches 

Dec. 17,19: Stroll down Gingerbread Lane and enjoy tasty gingerbread stories. Each child will make a simple gingerbread house. Pre-registration is required and participant spots are limited. For all ages.

Thursday, December 17th at 6 pm at the Spencer Township KDL Branch, 14960 Meddler, Gowen, 616-984-5680 and Saturday, December 19th at 10:30 am the Nelson Township/Sand Lake KDL Branch, 88 Eighth St. 161-636-4251. #49

HCNC Holiday Social

Dec. 18: Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16160 Red Pine Drive, Kent City, will provide wine, punch and hors d’oeuvres on Friday, December 18th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Bring your whole family! Everyone is invited! Games for the kids, Directors annual report and a time to socialize with the staff and other supporters of HCNC. Questions, call 616-675-3158. #49

Christmas Bake Sale

Dec. 19: The Tri County Country 4H Club Christmas Bake Sale will be held on Saturday, December 19th from 9 am to 2 pm at the Tractor Supply Co. in Cedar Springs. Packaged for holiday gift giving. #49.50p

Roast Beef Dinner

Dec. 20: The Rockford American Legion Post 102 on the corner of Northland Dr. and Rockford Park Dr. (330 Rockford Park Dr.), will be hosting a roast beef dinner on Sunday December 20th and every 3rd Sunday of each month. Open to the public. We will be serving roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans, coleslaw, rolls, dessert, coffee and punch. Reasonably priced at $9 for adults, kids age 4 to 12 for $7 and under 4 years are free. Serving from 11am to 3 pm. See ya there and bring the family! #49,50p

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First bull experience


By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

A visit to Uncle Al’s farm when I was seven gave me a first close encounter with a bull. Uncle Al was actually my dad’s uncle. While my dad and he visited or did whatever adults do, we were sent to a harvested cornfield to salvage corn the machine missed. Following that chore, we headed to the barn to put hay in cow feeding troughs. When our work was finished we got to play.

We decided to jump from the loft into a large pile of hay. That all sounded simple but I had a big, fearful challenge. When we entered the barn, it was necessary to walk past the cows to get to the hayloft ladder. In the first stall was a bull with a metal ring in its nose. I was ok walking past cows but I feared the bull would kick me for sure. He was looking over his shoulder at me.

He was surely planning how to take me out if I tried to walk past him. My older brothers and other great-nephews passed without incident. It was still too frightening for me. When I heard others having fun, I needed to build courage to risk my life by racing past the bull to join the others.

I had seen matadors on TV with a bull attacking and one matador was gored. Bulls are to be feared. My brothers and the others survived passing the bull so I darted past without incident.  My fear was unfounded. With more farm experience by age 7, I would not have hesitated walking past the bull.

As director at Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC), I greeted student groups. Some groups came with wild nature experience. Others came from the city and had no experience in the woods. Some students had parents and grandparent that took them to parks, national forests, or wild natural areas.

For those that had never been exposed to wild nature niches there was great fear. I was asked if they would be attacked by tigers. Their knowledge of Michigan wild animals was a misconception. They only knew nature from TV. Like my farm experience, their visit to a nature center provided a new and unknown experience.

I did not fear going to a farm and the trip was filled with wonderful excitement until I encountered a bull. I wonder if students that had never been in wild areas were sick with fear as the bus traveled from school to nature center. The bus left the city, traveled to the north woods through the Rogue River State Game Area and finally stopped in the desolate wooded parking area at HCNC.

Unfounded fears are real and we all have them. I am comfortable backpacking in remote wilderness areas where mountain lions and wolves are present. I know elk are more dangerous and kill more people. I have greater fear for unsavory people in large cities than I do for large predators in the wild.

Our daughter used to pick up stones and fill her cheeks like a chipmunk when she was two. When we noticed bulging checks on our hikes, we would say give mommy or daddy the stones and she would spit out a mouthful. We figured stones in the mouth would build her immune system. Others feared disease or choking but gumballs were ok for their kids. We just called her our little geologist.

As adults, it is important that we provide diverse experiences for coming generations. Wild areas are shrinking and becoming more foreign to youth. Knowledge is often dominated by TV exposure and it often shows risky, dangerous encounters instead of normal reality.

Take kids to the Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16190 Red Pine Drive, Kent City, MI 49330 for a wonderful positive nature encounter. Leave your own fears behind.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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World heroes


Ancestral perennial corn.

Ancestral perennial corn.

By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Honey Bees and native insect pollinators keep food on our tables. Our society would crumble without insect pollinators that keep flowering plants thriving. Pollinators are real heroes that we should honor, respect, and care for by how we treat yards, farms, forest, and fields. If you ask people who they owe their health, wealth, and security to, I expect most would not reply “insects.”

Perhaps this is because the importance of ecological sustainability is not integrated into child upbringing by parents and is marginalized in school education by political forces and narrow subject focus. Ecological literacy is integral for maintaining sustainable economic, industrial, and societal community success. That was my focus as director at the Howard Christensen Nature Center and Wittenbach/Wege Agri-science and Environmental Education Center’s cross curriculum instruction. Our survival is dependent on keeping essential workers like insects on the job.

As nice as it is to recognize the work of people we depend on, other life forms are equal or more essential. To help develop appreciation for life in our neighborhoods, Nature Niche articles highlight creatures with whom we share Earth. However, this week I would like to recognize a human world hero with whom I have had limited personal experience.

I met with Dr. Hugh Iltis at the University of Wisconsin when I was deciding a career path for graduate school. I was considering botanical studies with him as my advisor. Hugh had recently become aware of a perennial corn in Mexico, and he and his colleagues named the ancestral perennial corn Zea diploperennis.

What makes Dr. Iltis a world hero is his recognition for the importance of an unknown plant that is restricted to a few square miles on planet Earth and his efforts to preserve it. It is a true grass related to Zea mays, our domestic edible corn. Mexican and Nicaraguan governments have taken action to preserve these plants. Why?

It has potential for use in breeding insect resistance, perennialism, and flood tolerance into domestic corn. Can you imagine if farmers no longer needed to plant corn annually because it sprouted annually on it own? If we can breed domestic corn or genetically modify it to become perennial, it would have significant impacts for agricultural economics.

What if we could breed it or genetically splice insect resistance from ancestral corn back into corn that was lost during domestication 10,000 years ago? We could perhaps reduce human dependence on insecticides that pose dangerous health concerns for our families and other life forms.

The tolerance of Zea diploperennis to floods could possibly increase domestic corn survival if its genes were incorporated to help it survive when corn fields flood and soils become water logged.

Wild corn was thought extinct at the time this ancestral corn was discovered. Many people and perhaps most on Earth do not recognize the importance and need to preserve species in our neighborhoods. Their importance and value will be lost to us and future generations if we do not honor, respect, and care for the health, wealth, and security that other species provide in ecosystems that support us.

I did not take the road to study plants under Dr. Iltis’s direction. Instead, I chose graduate study in entomology and ecology, with a subsequent career in environmental education. I focused energies toward environmental stewardship essential for sustaining society and life on Earth, by following Dr. Iltis’ lead and that of other heroes that help sustain society. Hail Hero to Dr. Iltis, who is now 90.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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