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Tag Archive | "volunteer"

We’re still here: what’s happening at Howard Christensen Nature Center


You will see all kinds of wildlife and plant life at Howard Christensen Nature Center. Courtesy photo.

By Kim Gillow

While riding on our float in several parades, I overheard members of the crowd saying, “I thought they closed.” “I remember going there as a kid.” “My sister got married there.” Well, we are still here. Kids still come with their schools and people still get married here. The Cedar Springs Post has been kind enough to list our events in “Hometown Happenings” but that is just part of our story. We are in the midst of a massive renovation and upgrade. Our biggest project is the building of dioramas inside the Interpretive Center to mimic the various ecosystems on the land. We are also planning to restore the planetarium and create an interactive, hands-on area in the former library space. This is all being done through volunteer time, money and energy. As a nonprofit, with no outside funding, we are totally dependent on revenue from our events and donations. We rent the property from KISD but we are responsible for the upkeep and repairs.

Howard Christensen Nature holds many types of events for all ages. Courtesy photo.

Our mission remains the same: To inspire appreciation and respect for the natural world, to increase awareness of environmental concerns and encourage individual’s to maintain earth’s ecology through scientific and educational activities. We have had to institute an admission fee to help with expenses. It is $3 per person for anyone 16 or older. This has led to some disgruntled comments but we do have to keep the lights on. And we want to be able to keep the cost of school trips and other events at a level that isn’t prohibitive.

We are busy staining our tables and benches at the center and are setting up a picnic area near the playground. Volunteers are repairing the boardwalks that have been damaged by weather and vandals. We have a new shed to house our snowshoes and cross country skis, courtesy of  Daniel Mills’ Eagle Scout Project. Fairy doors are appearing along the trails. We dream of paddle boats on the pond and a challenge course.  Plans are in the works for our fall events: Red Pine 5k Run, Fairy Festival, scarecrow and gourd craft day, pumpkin carving and spooky walk, haunted house, pie making, and  wreath making/make and take to name a few. For more information, call (616) 675-3158 or register on our web site: www.howardchristensen.org.

Planning an event? Rent Camp Lily’s, a private retreat center on the north end of the property. There is a large building with meeting space, full kitchen and rest rooms plus a pavilion and camping areas with picnic tables and fire pits. It is the perfect place for a family reunion, graduation party, wedding or corporate retreat. We continue to improve the venue and hope to have an indoor shower by next spring.

Next big thing! We are cleaning out the barn and other nooks and crannies. Mark and Ann Petersen are offering their services for a benefit auction on Sunday, August 27, starting at 3 p.m. The public is welcome to come any time after 1:30 p.m. to get your bid number and preview our wide variety of items that are ready for a new home. And it is a variety: electric clothes dryer, display cases, waders, filing cabinets, fencing, etc. Watch for a complete list on our web site and sale bills around town when we get closer. There will also be raffles of a child’s quilt and baskets of goodies, a bake sale, and hot dogs, popcorn and drinks for sale.

How can you help? Come and see us, become a member, attend an event, volunteer for an individual project or join us to help with an event, rent Camp Lily’s, make a tax deductible donation, wave at us in a parade, let people know—we’re still here!

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Lakes appreciation month: enjoy and protect Michigan’s lakes


Michigan is blessed with all types of waterbodies, including scenic locations without much civilization in site, like this view of Tahquamenon Natural Area between Newberry and Paradise in the state’s Upper Peninsula.

Michigan offers unique combination of four Great Lakes and 11,000 inland lakes

With Gov. Rick Snyder’s proclamation of July as Lakes Appreciation Month in Michigan, it›s the perfect time to encourage residents to enjoy and protect the state’s lakes.

Recreation on Michigan’s lakes—boating, fishing, birding, swimming and more on the water—leads to jobs throughout the state in support of a $7 billion recreational fishery, a $4 billion boating industry, and a major part of the state’s $38 billion tourism revenue.

Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes and four Great Lakes provide a combination of water resources and recreational opportunities not available anywhere else. In his proclamation, Gov. Snyder recognized “the need to protect these resources for future generations,” stating that “lakes and shorelines are critical resources to Michigan’s environment and quality of life, providing sources of drinking water, irrigation, energy, commerce, recreation, scenic beauty, and habitat for fish and wildlife.”

“It’s important for everyone who uses and values Michigan’s lakes to do their part to protect them,” said Joe Nohner, inland lakes analyst for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Our inland lakes face threats from declining water quality, invasive species, changing climate and unnatural shorelines that lack vegetation or woody habitat. There are simple steps each of us can take to protect the lakes we love.”

Fishing and boating go hand in hand as staple activities on many of Michigan›s lakes, making huge contributions to the state’s economy.

Here are just a few ways to show appreciation for these valuable natural resources:

Be a lake volunteer. Volunteer opportunities are available with programs across Michigan. Clean Boats, Clean Waters (http://micbcw.org/) is recruiting “volunteer heroes” to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by showing boaters how to inspect their boats, trailers and gear. Michigan’s Clean Water Corps supports volunteers engaged in water-quality monitoring through its Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program. Adopt-a-Beach volunteers remove litter from shorelines around the Great Lakes.

Protect your shore. Lakefront property owners can learn more from the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership about maintaining natural shorelines to improve fish and wildlife habitat and keep the water clean. Learn how to be recognized through the Michigan Shoreland Stewards program. http://www.mishorelandstewards.org/.

Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Lakes Appreciation Month and Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week were kicked off by the 4th annual AIS Landing Blitz with outreach events at more than 60 boat launches, to raise awareness and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species through recreational boating and related activities. When it’s time to head home from the lake, take steps to ensure aquatic invasive species don’t come with you:

  • Remove weeds, mud and debris from boats and gear, and drain live wells and bilges before leaving the landing.
  • Give boats and equipment at least five days to dry thoroughly before heading to a different body of water.
  • If that’s not possible, clean boats, water receptacles and gear with hot water or a diluted bleach solution before the next trip.

In short, remember to clean, drain and dry boats, trailers and gear after a day on the water. Concerned about aquatic invasive species? Consider inviting the free Mobile Boat Wash to a boat launch near you. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/invasives/Boat_wash_flyer_2017_554286_7.pdf or check them out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MobileBoatWash/.

Take a friend or a young person fishing. Fishing Michigan’s lakes provides an opportunity to spend quality time with someone, reunite a friend with a favorite hobby, or introduce someone to a new pastime. Whether it’s taking the boat to that favorite fishing hole or casting from a pier or quiet dock, fishing is a unique way to connect with the water.

Spend a day at the beach. A picnic or a day of swimming is a great way to get the kids outdoors in the summer. A sunset stroll along the shoreline can be a relaxing end to a perfect day. Looking for a place to take your four-legged best friend? According to bringfido.com, there are 27 dog-friendly beaches across Michigan.

Float your boat. If that boat is still covered and sitting on the trailer, or the kayaks haven’t yet left the garage, it’s time to hit the water. Take a cruise or paddle around the shoreline of your favorite lake to admire the waterfowl and flowering plants, or visit a new lake – with more than 1,300 public boating access sites around the state to choose from, it’s easy to plan a water-bound adventure.

The Lakes Appreciation Month proclamation was supported by the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, an organization that promotes collaboration to advance stewardship of Michigan’s inland lakes.

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January is School Board Recognition Month


 

As citizen leaders, individual school board members face complex and demanding challenges. They are alternately described as having the most important volunteer jobs in the country and facing the toughest challenge in elected American government. Yet school board members are just ordinary citizens with extraordinary dedication to our nation’s public schools. All Michigan citizens should recognize the vital contributions of these men and women and the crucial role they play in the education of our children.

The month of January marks the annual observance of School Board Recognition Month. This is a time to show our appreciation and begin to better understand how local trustees work together to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders. In January, join with others from throughout our district and state to salute the men and women who provide grassroots governance of public schools.

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CTA Assists With GRPD Appreciation Project


 

cta-grpd-1CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. – Creative Technologies Academy teamed up with a volunteer group to assemble approximately 200 bags for the Grand Rapids Police Department. CTA parents, Laura Wortz and Ruthanne Brinks, were asked to be involved and plan an appreciation dinner for the GRPD as their husbands both protect and serve as police officers.

“We wanted our school to be a part of this,” Wortz commented. “We wanted them to have the opportunity to give back to the men and women who give so much to all of us.”

cta-grpd-218 members of the CTA Cross Country team, along with their coaches, helped pack the bags with chips, granola bars, gum and mints. CTA’s elementary students and Charger Kid’s Club spent time decorating the bags before they were filled. The bags that were leftover from the appreciation dinner were given to the community officers to share with the youth that they encountered during their shifts.

Meijer was a major sponsor and provided a generous donation for the supplies for the event.

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Cedar Springs man among those honored by DNR


 

Pictured here are just four of the more than 40 hunting education instructors statewide honored for 40 years of volunteer service. Pictured (L to R) are DNR Director Keith Creagh; instructor James Johnson, Houghton Lake; instructor John Seelman, North Muskegon; instructor David Hansen, Cedar Springs; instructor Joseph Primozich, Pentwater; and DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler.

Pictured here are just four of the more than 40 hunting education instructors statewide honored for 40 years of volunteer service. Pictured (L to R) are DNR Director Keith Creagh; instructor James Johnson, Houghton Lake; instructor John Seelman, North Muskegon; instructor David Hansen, Cedar Springs; instructor Joseph Primozich, Pentwater; and DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler.

DNR honors longtime hunter education instructors for volunteer service

For nearly 70 years, Michigan has conducted hunter education classes, teaching new hunters firearms safety and the regulations behind having a safe and successful hunt. This year, the Department of Natural Resources has honored those longtime instructors who have been with the program more than 40 years with special recognition, including one from Cedar Springs. They have been honored at a series of Natural Resources Commission meetings.

“Our hunter education program has trained over 1 million hunters since its start in 1946 and currently trains about 20,000 students a year,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “We could not do this without the help of our hunter education instructors who volunteer because of their love of the outdoors and their deep interest in passing that interest along to the next generation of conservation leaders.”

There are at least 40 active hunter education instructors who have more than 40 years of service to the program, including Charles Duncan, of Bay City, who is the longest-serving instructor, having volunteered now for 49 years. Instructors honored at the Oct. 9 NRC meeting in Cadillac for their service include:

James A. Johnson, Houghton Lake (46 years).

John M. Seelman, North Muskegon (44 years).

David E. Hansen, Cedar Springs (44 years).

Joseph W. Primozich, Pentwater (43 years).

While having a crop of seasoned, veteran instructors is an advantage for Michigan’s hunter education program, there also is a need to recruit new instructors for the program in all regions of the state, said Lt. Andrew Turner, who manages the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division’s recreational safety program. “We greatly appreciate our veteran instructors who have been with the program for more than 40 years. If you have an interest in passing along your interest in hunting to new hunters, we need you in our program,” Turner said. “This is a great way to ensure that the sport you enjoy today is enjoyed by future generations of hunters.”

For more information on Michigan’s hunter education program, visit www.michigan.gov/huntereducation.

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Volunteer efforts pay off


CSPS-Drama-Club

The Red Flannel Festival delivered a Community Share check for six hundred dollars to the Cedar Springs High School Drama Club for the volunteer efforts at the 2012 Red Flannel Queen Pageant. The Red Flannel Festival is proud of the annual Community Share Program generated over $5000.00 for area local non-profits last year! The Red Flannel Board of Directors and Chairpersons are working hard to ensure the success of the 74th Red Flannel celebrations.

The Red Flannel Festival’s success and growth has been phenomenal! Our staffing demands will out-number our volunteers and we are turning to you, the non-profit community, for assistance. We are proud and excited we have been able to donate almost $30,000 to non-profits in the area with our Community Share Program!

As a completely volunteer, independent non-profit organization, the Red Flannel Festival is keenly aware of the challenges organizations face in fundraising. Our mission is to encourage collaboration and positive economic growth for ALL of the area’s non-profit organizations.

If your non-profit organization is interested in participating in this exciting Community Share Program please contact the Festival office at 696-2662 or email president@redflannelfestival.org.

 

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Volunteer program kicks off in state parks


The Department of Natural Resources announced the schedule of volunteer stewardship events as a part of the new Volunteer Steward program in southwestern Michigan state parks and recreation areas. Volunteering for these workdays is a great way to get outdoors in Michigan’s state parks, breathe some fresh air, get a bit of exercise and enjoy fall foliage and beautiful landscapes.
The Volunteer Steward program kicked off in October with native seed collection for prairie restorations. Volunteers are now needed in November and December to help remove invasive, non-native shrubs in natural areas within state parks and recreation areas. These activities will help protect and restore the unique habitats by improving conditions for native species and restoring ecosystem function. In doing so, volunteers will be benefiting many species, some of which are threatened or endangered, while also learning about invasive species and hands-on management. Volunteers in need of service credit, such as Conservation Stewards, Master Gardeners, scouts, service clubs, school groups and others are welcome to attend.
Dates, times, and locations of the workdays are as follows:
Saturday, Nov. 5: P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 6: Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1-4 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 12: Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 13: Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County), 1-4 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 19: Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 20: P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County), 1-4 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3: Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1-4 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 4: Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 10: Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Dec.11: Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1 to 4 p.m.
Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants, boots, gloves, and bring drinking water. Don’t forget to bring your hiking boots to enjoy the many trails that traverse through forests, dunes, prairies, fen, and the other unique natural areas protected by our state park system.
The Volunteer Steward program is part of the Parks and Recreation Division, Stewardship Unit’s mission to “preserve, protect and restore the natural and cultural resources present within Michigan State Parks for this and future generations.” For information about the specific tasks at each workday and to obtain directions, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers and link to the “Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays.” All volunteers are asked to register using the forms available on the website. Please contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851 ext. 147 or freih@michigan.gov for registration or questions about the Volunteer Steward program in southwest Michigan.

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Volunteers clean up Cedar Creek


By Judy Reed


One group of volunteers ready to go to work on Cedar Creek.

Volunteers spread out over the area Tuesday to clean up debris from Cedar Creek.

The clean up was made possible due to a grant from the Great Lakes Commission to the city of Cedar Springs. The grant enabled the city to purchase waders, picks, and trash bags to perform the annual cleanup, which was mandated to take place in August.

Volunteers arrived at the White Pine Trail staging area at the end of W. Maple Street, and were divided into six groups. Each group was responsible for a certain area of the creek. They cleaned from the end of E. Oak Street and west along the creek to 17 Mile Road.

Those cleaning found all sorts of debris, including fast food cups and waste, glass and plastic bottles, Styrofoam, a large piece of varnished wood and more.

The cleanup fits in with an effort by Schrems West Michigan Trout Unlimited, who recently began work on a project along Cedar Creek to improve the stream bank and flow of the water through the City of Cedar Springs to restore trout habitat.

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A brush of kindness


By Tom Noreen

On July 10, youth and adults from the Cedar Springs and East Nelson United Methodist Churches headed north on the 300-mile journey to Manistique for a volunteer week with Habitat of Hiawathaland. This is the 7th time the group has worked on a mission project in the UP.

In an effort to help more people, Habitat is expanding its mission from just building and renovating homes for families. Its “Brush of Kindness” program helps provide maintenance. This year the team undercoated and put two coats of paint on Cathy’s home and storage shed plus built a 10×14 ft deck and washed her exterior windows. Next door, we insulated the floor joist cavities for Dustin and his family.

With a crew of 17, we had the house painted in three days so asked for some other projects. One crew cleaned out a Habitat house we had worked on during our first mission trip in the UP. The family had to give up the home, as they were moving out of the area for work. Another group replaced part of the floor in a 14×20 ft cabin that vandals had set on fire. A third group helped with office chores and others built walls to subdivide a room in the Blanchard Volunteer Center for families. The center currently has male and female dorms but no facilities for families. These rooms will be used both for families working and as a place for local families in a crisis. A team also put door and baseboard trim up in the men’s dorm, one bathroom and the new shower facility.

Each year the crew gets an afternoon off to see some of the local attractions. Last year we went on a Pictured Rocks boat tour. Because we were working about 50 miles north and east of Manistique, we went to Oswald’s Bear Ranch andTtahquamenon Falls State Park.

On Thursday, July 14, Habitat held a potluck for the group and the family. Joining us this year were also Tracey and her family and Jody and Jim and children. Two years ago we worked on the renovations of Tracey’s home and last year we painted and did trim work on Jody and Jim’s home. Having them join us is a tribute to the relationships made between the team and the families.

We have already set dates for next year. Mark your calendars for July 15-21.

Representatives from Cedar Springs UMC were Shelby Towers, Lauren Falicki, Ryley Clark, Kelsi Briggs, Tyler Bevier, Josh Champion, Jackie Champion, Aaron Burnside, Jake Potter, Kenny Neville, Dan Davis, Nancy Kidder, Theresa Champion, Jim Champion, and Tom Noreen. Jenny (Hendges) Pavlak and Sabina Nelson joined the group from East Nelson.

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Annual sturgeon guarding program seeks volunteers


Sturgeon for Tomorrow is seeking volunteers to join in its effort, in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division, to help protect sturgeon from poaching.
Each spring, mature lake sturgeon—a fish species that is threatened in Michigan and rare throughout the United States—become vulnerable to poaching as they briefly leave Black Lake in Cheboygan County for spawning sites in the Black River. Hundreds of volunteers stand guard at these sites during the spawning season, from late April through late May, to report any suspicious activity and deter the unlawful take of this prized fish.
“For over a decade, the Sturgeon Guarding Program has proven that citizens who watch over the river have greatly reduced poaching and helped ensure the protection and growth of the species,” said Ann Feldhauser, a Department of Natural Resources retiree and the program’s volunteer coordinator. “It’s a unique and rewarding experience – to witness the spectacular sight of these majestic fish, which can live up to 100 years and weigh over 200 pounds, swimming up into the Black River and to take part in safeguarding one of Michigan’s most valuable natural resources.”
When spawning begins, sturgeon guards are assigned to sites along the river in shifts. The volunteers stand watch and, if necessary, use cellular phones provided by Sturgeon for Tomorrow (SFT), to contact DNR conservation officers who are actively patrolling the area in support of the SFT effort.
Various shifts are available for those who wish to get involved, and coordinators will be on-site to assist and answer questions. In addition to guarding the fish, volunteers can also play a key role by recording the number and activity of fish they see.
Individuals or groups interested in volunteering should contact Ann Feldhauser at 906-201-2484 or register online at http://www.sturgeonfortomorrow.org/
For those traveling from outside the local area, several hotels, restaurants and Onaway State Park, located on Black Lake, are very close to the critical guarding locations. Volunteers also are encouraged to set up their rustic camp along the banks of the Black River.
Lake sturgeon rehabilitation in the Cheboygan River watershed is a cooperative effort involving the Black Lake Chapter of SFT, the DNR, Michigan State University and Tower-Kleber Limited Partnership. In addition to the guarding program, this effort includes activities such as tagging sturgeon adults and raising young fish for stocking.

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