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Tag Archive | "Lily’s Frog Pad"

New director at Nature Center


David A Kieft and his daughter.

David A Kieft and his daughter.

Lily’s Frog Pad, Inc., the operating entity of Howard Christensen Nature Center located at 16190 Red Pine Drive, Kent City is proud to announce the election and appointment of David A Kieft as the new Executive Director.

Cindy Perski, former director and founder of Lily’s Frog Pad, resigned July 14 to enjoy retirement with her husband. “She has done many wonderful things and has made a tremendous impact at Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC),” said a spokesperson for Lily’s Frog Pad. “Although she will remain on staff teaching and volunteering, her retirement will leave her daily presence dearly missed.  She has left very big shoes to fill, thank you Cindy for all you have done, we cannot express our gratitude enough!”

Those big shoes will be filled by David A Kieft, “DK”, of Kent City. David is a father to an outgoing 8-year-old daughter Skylynne, and many pets. David’s educational background certificates and degrees include Culinary Arts, Accounting and Business finance and he will be transferring his graduate credits to a state university this fall. David is the general manager of Kieft Hospitality Company (a local caterer and concessionaire). He is an avid outdoorsman, and graduated from a Colorado Springs Community College affiliated naturalist guiding and survivalist program, before taking up work in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as a guide and camp cook.

He also enjoys volunteer work, especially with children and youth, and is a long-standing board member and coach for Grant AYSO region 1472, assists Sparta United Methodist Church’s youth pastor with youth group, is vice-chairman of the Kent City Village Board of Zoning Appeals and served as a board advisor for HCNC until his appointment to executive director July 14.

In his spare time, David enjoys spending time at his weekend home on Ryerson Lake, working in his organic garden at home, hunting and fishing. As an experienced chef and caterer, cooking is also an enjoyable activity for David.  When asked what he enjoys doing most, David responded, “I just love working with kids, and really anything outdoorsy.”

We welcome DK, and wish him luck in his new position as executive director at HCNC.  Stop by and welcome him and see what HCNC has to offer as well. Dave will have a large pot of coffee on as long as he’s on the grounds!

 

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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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Nature center to reopen April 15


By Judy Reed

It just wouldn’t be spring without a school field trip to the nature center. So it’s good news that Howard Christensen Nature Center, operated by Lily’s Frog Pad, will reopen on April 15, after closing in January due to funding cuts.

Cindy Perski, who took the lead in creating Lily’s Frog Pad, the non-profit group operating the center, will initially volunteer at the center full-time until they can find a part-time director. “We just don’t have any income right now,” she explained.

The operating budget for the center with a part-time director is $45,000. “We are working feverishly to find another organization to partner with, but we haven’t had any bona fide offers yet,” said Perski.

The property is owned by the Kent Intermediate School District, and Perski said that they have been “super supportive” in helping them reopen. “They rented the land to us for a $1 per year,” she noted.

The center will have many of the regular ongoing programs such as school field trips, after school programs, summer camps, family programs, scout programs and more. Some newer programs include dog walking on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a children’s craft time on Wednesdays, a 10-day adult outdoor wilderness survival, a seniors get together, and more activities. Families can even rent a 10-foot by 5-foot patch of land to grow a garden. For more information visit www.lilysfrogpad.com.

A volunteer orientation day is scheduled for Saturday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. They are looking for people who enjoy volunteering outdoors to work with the naturalists, teach kids about nature, help maintain the trails, cleaning, data input and filing, donating goods, and more. RSVP by emailing cperski@charter.net or calling (616) 325-4554.

Those wishing to make a donation to help with expenses should make checks out to Lily’s Frog Pad Inc. Contributions can be mailed to 12380 Pine Island, Drive, Sparta, MI 49345.

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