Set on 661 acres in rural Barry County in southwest Michigan, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, a mix between an environmental education center, nature center, and biological field station, provides visitors with an opportunity for outdoor education and exposure to a blend of diverse habitats including wetlands, forests, marshes, streams, lakes, and prairies.
To fulfill our mission"to promote environmental education, research, preservation, and appreciation," the Institute offers environmental education and sustainable land management programs to the community, educating environmental stewards by communicating the core values of land conservancy, environmental responsibility, citizenship, inclusiveness, and the pursuit of knowledge; undergraduate research grants and research partnerships with a consortium of area colleges and universities; and miles ofhiking trails open to the public, free of charge, from dawn to dusk year-round.
The New Brown Trail Gets a New Name
Thanks to all the creative individuals who submitted entries for our recent trail naming contest, we are happy to announce the Brown Trail has been renamed "White Tail Trail" as suggested by Marianne Orr and Barb Lancaster. Thanks again for helping us find an appropriate name for our newest trail!
No Family Left Indoors
Free Family Fun every Tuesday night!
June 9 through August 18
6:30 – 8 pm
Get outside and enjoy all the local community has to offer! The free No
Family Left Indoors programs are scheduled throughout the summer at a different Barry County location
Enjoy a delicious summer brunch meet the Institute's new Chef Paul Vugteveen! During the program, several 2015 researchers will share their projects. This program is an excellent opportunity to learn what it is like to spend the summer at the Institute focusing on an in-depth scientific or creative project. As always, the program is free. You do not need to attend brunch to enjoy the program.
The secret to healthy and happy kids is in your own backyard!
Western Michigan University, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute
Growing up in Hastings, I have come to know the local outdoor adventure areas like the back of my hand. Since moving to Kalamazoo and becoming a student of English and Spanish Education at Western Michigan University, my interest in the relationship between nature and education has only deepened. After completing my third year at WMU, I received the Nature in Words Creative Writing Fellowship at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute. This unique fellowship has given me the opportunity to spend a summer exploring the topic of children in nature. I have delved into nature literature and research, spent lots of time reflecting and observing, and focused on producing several distinct pieces of writing, which include a research essay, an informative brochure, and a children’s book. Without a doubt, this summer has proven to be one of the best learning experiences I have had yet; my favorite part has been the close relationship I’ve formed with my natural surroundings—something that not enough people have the time and resources to do. In recent decades, this lack of human to nature contact has been under investigation. While it’s not always easy to spend time outdoors each day, this article can serve as a guide to your family’s relationship with nature.
As many Michiganders know, July is filled with hot summer days that can often make you want to stay inside away from the heat and humidity, but you should think twice before you close the doors and turn on the T.V.—especially if you have children in your household. The summer months in Michigan offer children and teens a much needed time to relax and catch up with friends and family. But that’s not all that summer is good for—these months provide endless opportunities to head outside and become more acquainted with nature.
In recent years, the relationship between nature and children has been a popular research topic. Many studies have led to a similar conclusion: nature helps to form a healthy and happy lifestyle for your child. A 2005 national best-selling book by Richard Louv titled Last Child in the Woods explores the effects that nature can have on children, such as improving mental and physical health, stimulating creativity and imagination, and lowering the likelihood of stress and depression. Louv also discusses a social condition called Nature Deficit Disorder, which he describes as “the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.” So how do we prevent our children from facing Nature Deficit Disorder? The answer is simple: spend more time outside and teach your children how to appreciate their natural surroundings. Exploring nature can be fun and beneficial to the mind, body, and spirit. Below are some ideas to get you and your family outside this summer:
Attend Family Science Night at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute on August 6th from 6:30 – 8:00 pm to explore nature and the sciences.
Have a picnic in a park, like Bob King Park, Fish Hatchery Park, or Tiden Park.
Challenge your family to identify bird calls on a birding hike at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Otis Bird Sanctuary, Yankee Springs Recreational Trails, or along the Paul Henry Trail.
Take the family dog for a walk on local, dog-friendly trails.
Learn about agriculture by visiting a local farm. MOO-ville offers family activities in the summer, and Prairieville Farm hosts old-fashion farm days in September.
Take advantage of Hastings’s unique placement on the Thornapple River. Spend an afternoon floating down it on tubes or canoes or walk beside it on the scenic Thornapple River Walk.
Challenge your teen to use that smartphone to capture nature scenes from any of the areas associated with the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy or give them a nature journal in which they can practice nature inspired writing.
Attend a free No Family Left Indoors program held at venues throughout Barry County every Tuesday from 6:30 – 8 pm through August 18.