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Tag Archive | "Howard Christensen Nature Center"

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

Mar. 12: 2nd Chance will be having Cowboy Church on Sunday, March 12th 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 and music will be shared by the group, Gospel Jamboree. 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. Cowboy Church will introduce you to 2nd Chance and its vision. The school is in the building stage, which when completed, will teach troubled teens through God and the horse. If you have questions, call 616-293-2150. See you there! #10p

Michigan Reads: Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum

Mar. 15,16: Celebrate the 2017 Michigan Reads book, Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum by Lisa Wheeler, with crafts and activities. For ages 6 and younger. Wednesday, March 15th at 10 am and Thursday, March 16th at 6:30 pm at the Spencer Township KDL Branch, 14960 Meddler Ave., Gowen. #10

Lions Club Pancake Breakfast

Mar. 18: The Cedar Springs Lions Club’s Pancake Breakfast will be held this Saturday, March 18th 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 last planned date is April 16th. Proceeds to assist sight conservation. #10

Register Now For Free Hunter Education

Mar. 21: To register for firearm Hunter Safety Classes  at the Red Flannel Rod & Gun Club, call Jim Pope at 231-834-5545 after 6 pm. Classes at the Club, 7463 18 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs, will be Tuesday, March 21st, from 6-9 pm,  Thursday, March 23rd  from 6-9pm,  Saturday, March 25th, from 8 am-4 pm. Class size limited to 50 students. #9,10p

MCC hosts its annual Chicago trip

Mar. 25: Montcalm Community College offers a March 25th bus trip to Chicago. Registration for MCC students is $24.20, which includes a $2.20 service fee, and it is $45.30 for non-students, which includes a $3.30 service fee. The ticket covers the cost of transportation, and participants must pay for their food and for their entry fees to attractions. Participants have time to visit one or two attractions during the trip. Available attractions include the Adler Planetarium, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science & Industry and Shedd Aquarium. The bus leaves MCC’s Sidney campus at 6:45 a.m., picks up passengers at the Greenville Wal-Mart parking lot at 7:15 a.m. and returns to MCC at 10:30 p.m. To register, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/chicago-trip-tickets-28891469162. The deadline to register is March 23rd at noon. Children ages 12 to 17 may attend with an adult. Children younger than 12 are not permitted to attend. For more information, email karen.maxfield@montcalm.edu or call (989) 328-2111, Ext. 334. #10

HCNC Spring Break Camp

Apr.3-7: We’re looking forward to another week of Spring Break Camp at Howard Christensen Nature Center! Each day will have a new theme while we cover team building, archery, animals from water and land, and a whole lot of fun games! April 3rd – 7th from 10 am to 2 pm. Pack a lunch (except for Friday’s Pizza Party), dress for the weather and don’t miss out! $40 per student, Members $30. Register online at www.HowardChristensen.org today! The center is located at 16160 Red Pine Dr., Kent City. 616-675-3158. #10

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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.


Spaghetti Dinner Benefit

Mar. 4: A Spaghetti Dinner Benefit for the Hammer family will be held on Saturday, March 4th at the Cedar Springs American Legion, 91 First St., Cedar Springs from 4 to 8 pm. Adults $7, Kids $5, 4 and under $2. The Hammer family lost their home and possessions to fire. Dinner includes Spaghetti, bread stick, salad & dessert. 50/30/20 raffle, gift card box, and live auction at 7 pm. Please come out and help support this family. Everyone is welcome!. #9p

Dinner at the Legion

Mar. 6: American Legion, 80 S. Main St. Cedar Springs, is hosting a Baked Chicken dinner on Monday, March 6th , from 5 – 7 pm. Included will be stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy, veggies, salad, 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.  #9p

God’s Kitchen in Cedar Springs

Mar. 7,14,21,28: Join us for dinner every Tuesday. God’s Kitchen – Cedar Springs welcomes families from Northern Kent County and the surrounding area to a Tuesday Evening Meal. No charge – no registration required!  Served from 5:30 – 6:30 pm at the St. John Paul II Parish, 3110 – 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs. For more information, call the Church office at 616-696-3904. #9

Mixing Magic at KDL

Mar. 8,9: Mixing Magic! A World of Color, Optics and Light. Explore how we see our world by mixing color and playing with light. Discover magical illusions and other natural phenomena such as rainbows! For ages 6 and younger. Wednesday, March 8th at 10 am and Thursday, March 9th at 6:30 pm at the Spencer Township KDL Branch, 14960 Meddler Ave., Gowen. #9

Let’s Get Growing at HCNC

Mar. 10: Let’s Get Growing – indoor seed starting will be held at Howard Christensen Nature Center on Friday, March 10th from 6 to 7:30 pm. A donation of $8 per person (members $4) includes pots, soil and seeds! Join seasoned gardeners in learning how to begin your garden early indoors. A great way to save money by avoiding costly plants at the nursery each spring, and a wonderful way to dictate an earlier harvest. Make your garden the envy of the neighborhood while feeding your family. Beans, peppers, tomatoes, pickles, squash and more. HCNC is located at 16160 Red Pine Drive., Kent City. Sign up online at www.HowardChristensen.org today! #9

Rotary Life Leadership Conference and Scholarships

Mar. 17: The Cedar Springs Rotary Club is now accepting interest forms to attend a leadership conference for high school sophomores and juniors in Tustin, Michigan June 14th thru 17th. The conference fee is covered by the Cedar Springs Rotary Club. Students learn about leadership styles and identify strengths and weaknesses of those styles. Small group discussions include an understanding of various political, cultural, ethnic, gender, and religious groups. Two $1,000 scholarships will then be awarded based on Interviews, Applications, Presentations and Essays submitted by the students chosen for the conference. Interest Forms are available in the Cedar Springs High School Academic office, CTA Counselor’s office, Independent Bank or White Creek Lumber with a response deadline of Friday, March 17th @ 5:00 pm. #9

Register Now For Free Hunter Education

Mar. 21: To register for firearm Hunter Safety Classes  at the Red Flannel Rod & Gun Club, call Jim Pope at 231-834-5545 after 6 pm. Classes at the Club, 7463 18 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs, will be Tuesday, March 21st, from 6-9 pm,  Thursday, March 23rd  from 6-9pm,  Saturday, March 25th, from 8 am-4 pm. Class size limited to 50 students. #9,10p

Youth Theatre Workshop

Mar. 25, Apr. 29: The Cedar Springs Community Players will be putting on two theatre workshops for youth ages 8-18 on March 25th and April 29th. Sign up information and more details on www.cedarspringscommunityplayers.org. #9

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Growing Cardboard


Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

As a child, I observed toilet paper rolls were not wrapped around a cardboard tube. By the time we removed the paper, a cardboard tube had grown on the inside of the roll. I remember my mother telling me a rock on a street corner near her house grew larger as she was growing up.

Our observations were faulty. Both my mom and I thought we made good observations. I looked inside the paper roll and did not see the cardboard. I was not perceptive enough. Mom did not make measurements on the rock to verify growth.

I recall taking local middle school students to Costa Rica to learn about Tropical Rain Forest. We visited schools to plant trees with students. We shared that forests are a renewable resource that were being cut faster than they could regenerate. Some rainforest soils get baked to laterite rock when cleared of trees.

Sustainable practices that support future generations of people living in the rainforest and here need to manage rainforest differently if we desire to have toilet paper or other forest products in the future. Some apply temperate forest management practices there and are unwilling to change because they desire to think it will work anywhere. As adults, we are not making accurate observations based on sound scientific investigations.

Naturally, tree harvest industries are most interested in cutting trees and shipping them. They keep moving and clearing rainforest without adequate concern regarding the impact on the local community or future generations. For some, the goal is only short-term profit for the company. Many people feel that is in their best personal interest and it is particularly true if they invest money in mutual funds that include that forestry company.

Others seek socially screened industry investments that work to provide healthy economic, social, and environmental practices for both present and future generations. It is known as the triple bottom line.

A recent national survey prioritized 12 US citizen concerns. Environment was number 11 of 12. The only one of less concern was immigration. Political policies are based on constituent desires. It is good when people develop good observation skills and behave to support the triple bottom line for the present and future.

When I was director at the Howard Christensen Nature Center, it was operated by the Kent Intermediate School District serving Kent County public and private schools. One purpose was to provide hands on learning to help students develop careful observation skills and to learn how scientists constantly review the work of other scientists to find flaws and correct them. When studies involve things like how nature niches work in forests, we can improve best practice management. Science has self-correcting peer review.

Field trip learning helps children develop accurate observations in fun natural locations. They learn to draw better conclusions than I did regarding toilet paper growing cardboard while on the paper holder.

The Kent ISD superintendent, in 2005, told me they were closing the Howard Christensen Nature Center because environmental education was no longer a priority in America. He stated he was not saying it lacked importance but only it was no longer a priority in America. In the presidential election prior to 2005, Al Gore, with a sustainable environment policy, won the popular vote but lost the electoral. The recent election went the same way with the sustainable environment policy candidate winning the popular vote but losing the election. Environment was only one of twelve American priorities but indicated a sustainable environment for future generations is low on our priority list. The role of environment for sustaining a stable economy is important.

Encourage your children’s teachers to go to HCNC. It is now operated as an independent nature center. Purchase a 2017 family membership. Rent snowshoes there and have fun outdoors. Emotionally connect with the environment that supports us and our future. It will help raise a sustainable environment priority.

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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Porcupine and Cougar


Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

Two North American porcupines in a tree in Quebec, Canada. Photo by Wikipedia user Mattnad.

Two North American porcupines in a tree in Quebec, Canada. Photo by Wikipedia user Mattnad.

By Ranger Steve Mueller

When working as a ranger at Bryce Canyon National Parks, I conducted field research on the mountain lions (cougars) in the park. During the summer months, the highest plateaus in North America were home to the lions, porcupines, and me. At 9000 feet elevation, I found tracks in one of the few areas with a surface water pond on limestone bedrock. It was a rare drinking hole for deer, lions, and other wildlife.

During the seven years I worked there, I never heard of unattended cows being taken by a lion in the national forest where ranchers grazed cows in summer. Come fall the ranchers drove cows to 6000 feet elevation. Deep snow, lack of food, and excessive cold would leave cows high, dry, and dead in winter on plateau tops.

South from the park’s Yovimpa Point one can see 80 air miles across a near wilderness to the north rim of Grand Canyon National Park. One paved road crosses the south expanse and unpaved trails zigzag the terrain. It is precarious and unknown whether a vehicle other than those with four-wheel drive and high clearance will safely succeed.

Lions follow deer south into the wilderness, or they move east off the Paunsegunt Plateau or neighboring Aquarius Plateau (10,000 feet) into Tropic Valley. Lions have legal protection but poaching occurs by ranchers who think laws do not apply to them. Lions heading east have a better chance of being poached but those heading south have better poaching avoidance. Energy companies desired to strip mine coal to the south of the park for more than 50 years instead of developing alternative energy sources. Coal proposals have been blocked but renewed pressure to strip mine is expected. Coal strip mines could eliminate lions from Bryce Canyon.

Life is difficult for predators in nature niches where they need adequate food, accessible water in an arid landscape, and places to hide. People have fears that have some justification but dangers from predators are unlikely compared to other health threats. Driving, falling from a ladder, and other threats are more likely.

Lions have few threats from animals except people but starvation and dehydration are dangerous. Ranch water impoundments can be valuable but bring lions close to people. They tend to seek water in night stillness.

While tracking a lion, I found scat and broke it apart to discover what it had been eating. Porcupine quills were present. Literature reports lions prey on porcupines and I had found physical evidence. They avoid quills by eating from the belly where no quills are present. First the lion must kill the porcupine while trying to avoid being struck by a tail swing or quills raised high on the back. Quills cannot be thrown but they dislodge easily.

Porcupines move slowly but their armor helps protects them. When quills enter skin, mouth, or tongue, the quills puff up like a balloon because air sealed inside cannot escape. Pressure from the quill’s squeezed end in the skin causes quill swelling. The sharp end that entered the skin is covered with scales like shingles on a roof that face away from the quill point. Those scales prevent easy removal because the shingles hold it fast.

To remove quills, clip them to release air pressure and pull with pliers. Do not try this with a lion because you might not survive. Pets do not seem to learn to avoid porcupines. Every dog in our family has gotten quills at least once. Ody Brook, who the sanctuary is named after, bit one in our yard one night in Bemidji, Minnesota. I did not notice until he came into the house. It is important to remove them soon. The delay allowed quills to work deep and were difficult to remove. One in his gum worked too deep to remove. One year later, I noticed something sticking out of his eyelid. A close look revealed it was the gum quill emerging. I pulled it despite Ody’s objection. That story ended well without it entering his eyeball.

I read some quills migrated into a lion’s heart and were deemed a likely cause for its death. Porcupines are moving south as forests reclaim this region. One has been seen at Ody Brook and some are resident at the Howard Christensen Nature Center. More than one has been killed on Red Pine Drive. Walk the forests at HCNC with attention to the conifers or aspens where you might see the dark lump of a porcupine.

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.


Holiday Market

Nov. 26: The Tri County Music Boosters is hosting a Holiday Market on Saturday, November 26th at Tri County High School, 21338 Kendaville Rd., Howard City, from 10 am to 4 pm. Over 30 of your favorite vendors will be on hand offering specials for the holiday season on their unique items! Why fight the crowds in the malls when everything you could want can be found right here! Admission is only $2.00 and includes a raffle ticket of over two dozen fantastic door prizes. #47p

Sand Lake Tree Lighting & Carols

Nov. 27: There will be a Tree Lighting and carols in Sand Lake at Salisbury Park on Sunday, November 27th at 5:30 pm. Meet at the tree on the southeast corner of the park. Special music from Resurrection Lutheran Church Preschoolers. #46,47p

Praise the Lord at Cowboy Church

Nov. 27: 2nd Chance will be having Cowboy Church on Sunday, November 27th 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 and music will be shared by the group Riding for the Brand. 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. Cowboy Church will introduce you to 2nd Chance and its vision. The school is in the building stage, which when completed, will teach troubled teens through God and the horse. If you have questions, call 616-293-2150. See you there! #47

Indoor Live Nativity

Dec. 2,3: Sand Lake United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall is transformed into the city of Bethlehem for an indoor live Nativity on Friday, December 2nd from 6 to 8 pm and Saturday, December 3rd from 1 to 3 pm. See the baby in the manger and listen to the angels sing. Our free gift to you this Christmas. #46,47p

Annual Cookie Walk

Dec. 3: St. Peter’s Ladies Guild’s Annual Cookie Walk will be Saturday, December 3rd at 310 E. Division in Rockford from 9 am until the cookies are gone. The cookies are sold by the pound and you pick the combination. This is the perfect time to pick up cookies for the holidays. Proceeds help our Mission Projects throughout the year. #47,48p

Vendor and Craft Show

Dec. 3,4: The Rockford American Legion, 330 Rockford Park Drive, is hosting a Craft and Vendor Show on December 2nd from 5 to 9 pm and December 3rd from 9 am to 4 pm. Lunch will be available for purchase. #47,48p

Holiday Marketplace

Dec. 3: Get a good start on your Holiday Shopping at the Greenville Area Senior Citizen Center, 715 S. Baldwin, Greenville, during their Holiday Marketplace event, taking place on Saturday, December 3rd from 9 am to 3 pm. Choose from a nice selection of quilts, crafts, dolls, holiday décor, gift items and baked goods, along with unique gift options from outside vendors. Entrance and free parking is in rear of building. Holiday Marketplace is part of a citywide holiday celebration. #47

Chalk Artist and Ventriloquist

Dec. 4: Chalk for Christ artist and ventriloquist, Rod Snow will present an entertainment show the whole family can enjoy, Sunday, December 4th at 4 pm in the sanctuary of the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church. Please join us for an afternoon of fun! There is no charge for this event. #47,48p

Help Promote Literacy

Dec. 5,16,20,28: The need is urgent at this time! The Literacy Center of West Michigan has scheduled  information sessions for prospective volunteer tutors. These sessions last one hour. It allows persons interested in becoming volunteer tutors to find out more about the Literacy Center and its programs. At the end of the session there will be a chance to sign up for tutor training. Sessions are Monday, December 5th at 10 am, Friday, December 16th at 2 pm, Tuesday, December 20th at 6 pm and Wednesday, December 28th at 10 am. 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 Literacy Center of West Michigan 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. #47

HCNC Holiday Party

Dec. 9: The Howard Christensen Nature Center staff, board and volunteers would like to invite you (everyone) to our annual holiday party at the Center! Unlike the previous years potluck style dinner, this one will have a light faire provided with samplings of cider, wine, juice and pop! No need to bring anything, however HCNC always appreciates holiday donations. Mingle with those who make this place happen and get to know us a little more! FREE to all, but donations are appreciated. The center is located at 16160 Red Pine Drive, Kent City, 616-675-3158, www.HowardChristensen.org. #47

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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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