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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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