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Tag Archive | "Howard Christensen Nature Center"

On tap this weekend


You don’t want to miss these events coming up Friday and Saturday!

On Friday, May 13, at 7 p.m., En-Gedi youth center, meaning a Place to Be Refreshed, will host its first ever “Come Be Refreshed – Special Event” in the Cedar Springs High School. This is a free community event with a dessert buffet/cook-off providing sweet treat samples for guests to enjoy. Area catering and restaurant owners will be vying for guest’s votes in hopes of being named the “2011 En-Gedi Best Dessert Cup Winner.” A silent auction will be held for items such as two tickets to a Taylor Swift Concert, one ton of wood pellets, guided turkey hunt, two desktop computer, monitor, and software, Amish quilts, two bikes, a leather relaxation recliner, one-night stay at the W. W. Lodge, MSU autographed basketball, and many more great items. The evening will conclude in the auditorium with some exceptional music from local musicians as well as hearing from some students and Pastor Holloway. Proceeds go to support the youth center. Visit the En-Gedi website to learn more and/or make a donation (Pay Pal) www.En-GediYouthCenter.com.
On Saturday, May 14, come celebrate the grand reopening of the Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16190 Red Pine Drive, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The Birds-eye Treasure Hunt has been canceled, but residents are still welcome to come out and explore the nature trails and enjoy the cozy atmosphere of the Red Pine Interpretive Center, where lunch will be available for $5. The Howard Christensen Nature Center occupies 135 acres owned by the Kent Intermediate School District and is located west of Cedar Springs in the middle of the Rogue River State Game Area. To make a donation, or to get more information, call (616) 675-3158.

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Celebrate grand re-opening of Nature Center


Bird’s-Eye Treasure Hunt fundraiser on May 14

Supporters of the Howard Christensen Nature Center did not hibernate during the dark months of winter. They were busy making plans to re-open the nature center, at 16190 Red Pine Drive, which closed at the end of January due to budget issues. The popular nature center is experiencing a re-birth under the operation of a new non-profit organization called Lily’s Frog Pad Inc. The public is invited to participate in a “Bird’s-Eye Treasure Hunt” fundraiser on May 14, 2011 to celebrate the center’s Grand Re-opening. The Howard Christensen Nature Center occupies 135 acres owned by the Kent Intermediate School District and located west of Cedar Springs in the middle of the Rogue River State Game Area.
Lily’s Frog Pad Inc. is the creative idea of Cindy Perski, who is the President of the independent, 501c3 non-profit organization formed for the purpose of managing Howard Christensen Nature Center. Perski came up with the Lily’s Frog Pad name to initiate a fun, new image for the nature center that is well-known for providing environmental education field trips to West Michigan students since 1976. The Field Station, one of two “interpretive” buildings on the property, is expected to be re-opened as “Camp Lily” to provide a site for group overnight retreats. Other programs to serve the community’s needs are planned such as summer nature day camp, crafts classes, and fitness programs.
To “jump start” the nature center’s re-opening, Lily’s Frog Pad Inc. received a $3,100 grant from the Jimmy F. New Foundation. This Indiana foundation honors the founder of JF New, an environmental restoration and consulting firm with eight offices throughout the Midwest including three in West Olive, Ann Arbor and Holt, Michigan.  The grant was awarded in January, but wasn’t disbursed until recently when the new non-profit board was established, and matching start-up funds were acquired from Cindy Perski. Former director and Lily’s Frog Pad Inc. Vice President, Kathy Reed, says this grant allowed the nature center to offer field trips again this spring, but additional grants, donations and fundraising events are critical to the continued operation of the nature center.
The first fund-raising event is the “Bird’s-Eye Treasure Hunt” on Saturday, May 14 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Participants must register in advance and make a $25.00 donation which allows them to hunt for 51 treasure “blocks” that have a value of $2.00 to $25.00 and a total value of $1,000.00! Rules and registration forms are available at the nature center and local libraries, or request one by e-mail. Lunch will be available for both visitors and participants to purchase from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The Red Pine Interpretive Building at Howard Christensen Nature Center is now open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with occasional exceptions due to field trips or other scheduled events. For more information call the Howard Christensen Nature Center at (616) 675-3158.

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Spring ephemerals at Howard Christensen Nature Center


The twinflower is one of the flowers adventurers might see as they explore Howard Christian Nature Center May 7.

Saturday, May 7, 1-4 p.m.

Explore Howard Christensen Nature Center with Ranger Steve Mueller on Saturday, May 7, from 1-4 p.m., to enjoy naked miterwort, dwarf ginsing, twinflower, fringed polygala, starflower, beadlily, and a host of other spring flowers that should be peaking during the field trip.
“Hopefully the day will be sunny warm so spring butterflies will be on the wing,” said Mueller. “We will visit a huckleberry patch at the 18 Mile bog in hopes of seeing Brown Elfins as well as flowering bog heaths.”
The trip is sponsored jointly by the White Pine Chapter of the Michigan Botanical Club and West Michigan Butterfly Association. The public is welcome.
The nature center is located at 16190 Red Pine Drive. From Cedar Springs follow 17 Mile Rd. west for approximately 6 miles to Red Pine Dr., turn north (right) onto Red Pine Dr. and continue north to 18-Mile Rd., turn west (left) onto 18 Mile Rd. Take this a short distance (less than 1/4 mile), and then turn north (right) on Red Pine Dr. Continue for about 1-1/2 miles. The entrance will be on the east (right) side of Red Pine Dr.

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A Phoenix Rises from the Ashes


Howard Christensen Nature Center takes steps to reopen

Ranger Steve Mueller leads a group on a nature walk at Howard Christensen Nature Center in this Post file photo.

By Tom Noreen

A group of about 30 people gathered at the Tyrone Township Hall on March 3 to learn about the progress made in reopening the Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC), 16160 Red Pine Dr, in Kent City, as its own nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. The center closed in January due to a funding shortage.

Cindy Perski, with the assistance of Kathy Reed (former director under the Kent Conservation District) has taken the lead at creating the umbrella organization that would oversee the center. Perski recently retired as CEO of a manufacturing company in Southwest Michigan. After retirement, she sought out Reed to volunteer at HCNC, only to find out that the center was going to close. Perski’s goal is “to give a legacy to our communities, children, to volunteer with a purpose, to give unselfishly, to expect nothing back in return, to leave this life better than I found it. It is an act of responsibility to leave a positive legacy.” She decided to put her words into action and see what she could do to bring the nature center back to life.

During the meeting, former director Ranger Steve Mueller gave a brief history of the center and its primary goal of education. The Kent Intermediate School District (KISD) ran the facility from 1976 until it closed in 2005 because of budgetary constraints. The KISD owns the 142-acre facility and would be willing to negotiate a lease with a qualified nonprofit as they did with the Kent Conservation District (KCD).

KCD Chair, Connie Redding, explained that the KCD used the facility to not only provide educational opportunities to school children but as a demonstration site for the services that KCD provides to land owners in the county. She briefed that funding was the primary reason for not renewing their lease. During the four years that the KCD ran HCNC, the center ran a loss of about $30,000. She said, “We will be willing to help and are very supportive of this plan.”  One attendee asked about the 10-year Forestry Plan and she said the plan was still intact and all it needed was an individual or organization to execute it.

One of the primary agenda items was identification of potential directors/advisors for the board. While Perski has filed the initial forms for creating the nonprofit under the name Lily’s Frog Pad, a board must be established to take responsibility.

Reed said, “We are looking for a diversified board with different talents in such areas as finance, marketing, education, fund raising, and legal.” According to the draft by-laws, the board must have at least three members and up to ten. Cindy asked those interested in being on the board to leave their name. She plans to contact each and have a follow-up meeting within the next two weeks.

One of the first actions of the board is to agree on a name for the organization, which may be different from the actual center. Kathy affirmed that the Christensen family was supportive of this plan and of using the current name. Perski said that, from a marketing perspective, the organization’s name should be short, easy to remember and have an association with the location. An example she gave was “Pure Nature.” Those in attendance were asked to submit ideas for the organization’s name.

Reed was questioned about current funding for the group and she said that a $3,000 matching grant was available once the organization could open a checking account. She said she already had matching funds for this. The historical operating expenses for part-time operation was between $35,000 and $40,000.

There was a great deal of positive input from the audience regarding potential uses, fundraising, and collaborating opportunities. The group left with a sense of encouragement that a bright new future awaits HCNC.

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Nature center closes again—temporarily


By Judy Reed

Kids and adults in the greater Cedar Springs area have fond memories of field trips to Howard Christensen Nature Center—walking the nature trails, identifying trees, leaves, and birds, seeing wildlife in its natural habitat. But yesterday, January 19, was the last field trip for kids at Howard Christensen Nature Center. At least for now.
In a move that no one seemed to know was coming, the board of the Kent Conservation District voted last week to cease programming at the nature center on Red Pine Drive due to a funding shortage.
The Kent Conservation District took over funding operations at the nature center in 2006 after the Kent Intermediate School District closed it in 2005 due to budget cuts. “Administrative and financial support was provided to the community because Kent Conservation District believes in the mission of Howard Christensen Nature Center to help people connect with nature through hands on, site-based experiences,” said KCD administrator Conning Redding. (We) have worked steadily to increase the nature center’s independence since 2006.” She went on to say that the programming at the center has not provided the funding necessary for sustained operation, and that because of limited resources, the board had to withdraw from involvement with the center.

Ranger Steve Mueller leads a group at a nature center outing.

According to Director Kathy Reed, the 2011 proposed budget is $45,000. Besides Reed, who is a part-time director, the center was staffed by eight part-time interpretive instructors, and one volunteer interpretive instructor. She added that several volunteers put in over 1,000 hours last year helping maintain the center. “They are very important to the facility as well,” she said.
Reed said that over 2,500 students visited the center last year, and 864 people attended their programs—up 227 people from the year before.
She noted that although the facility is closed, the public can still access the nature trails at the south entrance.
“It’s been a real rollercoaster,” remarked Reed. “What makes me so sad, is all the people affected. I’ve heard kids are praying in Sunday School for it to reopen, and I’ve had a lot of phone calls of support from the community.”
Reed doesn’t consider the closing to be permanent. She said she is currently in talks with another agency that could be promising, but the discussion is just beginning.
She asked that those that want to donate to help keep the center open should monitor the situation, and as soon as she has news she will alert the public. “It’s then that we will need support,” she said.
In the meantime, if you want to leave a message of encouragement or say that you will donate, you can do it on their facebook group page. We will have a link to their group on our facebook page.

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Snowshoe Saturdays at the nature center


January – March, 12:00-3:00 p.m. – Snowshoe Saturdays

The Red Pine Interpretive Center at Howard Christensen Nature Center is open for snowshoe rental on Saturdays, from noon to 3 p.m., when there is at least 6 inches of snow. On Friday night check the answering machine (616) 675-3158 or website at www.kentconservation.org/hcnc to see if the center will be open or closed on Saturday. Rental costs $4 per person for one-size-fits-all snowshoes. Rental is first-come first-served (reservations available for HCNC members). Hot drinks and snacks are available. Cross country skiers and hikers are also welcome to come in to warm up!
The Red Pine Interpretive Center is located at 16190 Red Pine Dr, Kent City, MI 49330.

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Outdoor survival workshop and snowshoeing


Survive the Christmas vacation blues!

Join us on December 29, from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. for an outdoor survival workshop at Howard Christensen Nature Center. Our instructors have lots of outdoor experience and a knack for making learning fun! Participants go outside to hike and learn about topics such as what it takes to survive outdoors, how to avoid getting lost, shelter options, survival kits and basic first aid. Two groups are planned: Grades 1-5 with Nova Blackburn and Grades 6-12 with Brian Robinson. The cost is $20 per person ($18 for HCNC members) and includes lunch. Class size is limited and advance registration is required. To reserve a spot please contact us by phone (616) 675-3158 or e-mail hcnc@kentconservation.org. (Group rates are also available; call or e-mail for details). Teen volunteers also needed.
We will be open on Saturdays for snowshoe rental when there is at least 6 inches of snow. Keep on snowing! See you then!!

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Nature center opens doors to public this fall


Fall is one of the best times to visit the Howard Christensen Nature Center

A decrease in biting insects and increase in color make September and October two of the most popular months to visit the Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC) in Kent City. This year the nature center, which is about 20 miles north of downtown Grand Rapids, offers both new programs and returning favorites.

A new event will be held at HCNC on September 19, 2009. It is a kick-off celebration from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. for the county-wide “Connecting Families With Nature” Passport Program. Although the focus of the day will be to promote a cross-generational appreciation of nature, guided hikes and refreshments will be available for all visitors.

Family groups, which can include children and parents, grandparents, or any other adult mentor, are invited to pick-up a free “Connecting Families with Nature” Passport at HCNC and get started filling in their passport. Those children who complete the passport can attend a special party at the John Ball Zoo on September 25, 2010. Additional “Connecting Families With Nature” events will be scheduled throughout the year. Learn more about the passport program at the kick-off celebration (on September 19), or visit www.kentconservation.org/families for more information.

Returning events at the Howard Christensen Nature Center include a Home School Student Workshop on October 2, and the Kent Conservation District (KCD) Fall Seedling Sale pick-up on October 10. Registration information for the Home School Workshop can be found on-line, along with the KCD Seedling Catalog (www.kentconservation.org). These events require advance orders or registration.

On October 10 and 17 from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., the nature center’s Red Pine Interpretive Center will be open so that visitors can view the educational displays inside as well as the fall colors on the hiking trails. A drawing for a “Fall Colors Art Raffle,” sponsored by the Rockford Sportsman’s Club to benefit the nature center, will be held on October 17, at 1:00 p.m. Please contact the nature center for details about the raffle by calling (616) 675-3158, or (866) 675-3158, or send an e-mail to hcnc@kentconservation.org. Proceeds from the raffle will help support programs such as field trips for school groups and Snowshoe Saturdays for the public. Volunteers are also needed to help with the fall open houses, grounds maintenance, and upcoming snowshoe days.

The Howard Christensen Nature Center is managed by the Kent Conservation District and the trails are open for hiking and cross country skiing everyday from dawn until dusk.

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