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.
A Latesummer Night's Green
Saturday, September 12
6 – 9 pm
Please join us at our annual fundraiser A Latesummer Night’s Green for a beautiful late summer evening at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute celebrating and supporting the learning opportunities, research, and creativity the Institute and nature provide! As our guest, you will have the chance to:
Enjoy a strolling dinner of fresh and local dishes prepared by Chef Paul Vugteveen,
Bid on unique items at the silent and live auctions,
A special thank you to our event sponsors, Burnham & Dells Advisors, Commercial Bank, Hastings Mutual Insurance Company, Morgan Stanley, Service Express, Inc., and Board Member Hillary Snell for helping us make this evening special for all of our guests.
Under Construction: The New Maintenance Building
Big changes are underway at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute! Thanks to generous donations from Doug and Margaret DeCamp and George and Barbara Gordon, the Institute is getting its first new building since opening in 2001. This building–a 5,4000 square foot maintenance building–will provide valuable space the staff needs to continue to take care of the Institute's buildings, equipment, and property.
Be sure to check in here to check on the construction's progress. This week the cement crew prepped the area to pour the cement floor!
Grow Native! Volunteer Days
Thursday, September 17
9 am - Completion
Saturday, September 19
9 am - Completion
Thanks to the generous support from members and friends, the stewardship department has moved forward with Phase II of the Grow Native! project! This phase will convert all 4,360 ft2 of the Education Building berm into a beautiful prairie demonstration garden that will provide habitat for a variety of native insects and birds - but to do so, your help is needed!
The stewardship department will be spreading mulch on Thursday, September, 17, and planting native wildflower grass plugs on Saturday, September 19. interested volunteers should meet at the Education Building at 9 am each day. Lunch will be provided.
Plant material for planting prairies or other natural landscapes can be very expensive. Finding and collecting seeds can be a less expensive and more rewarding way of expanding and diversifying natural areas. This workshop will help land managers and interested citizens understand the basics of seed collection, including harvesting methods and timing as well as seed treatment and preparation. Program is in cooperation with the Stewardship Network.
Cyanotype Bookmaking with the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
Saturday and Sunday, September 26 – 27
Saturday at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute: 10 am – 3 pm
Sunday at Kalamazoo Institute of Arts: Noon – 2:30 pm
Offered through the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA), this two-day workshop is perfect for all levels of experience. The finished product, a hardcover book of cyanotype prints, will be an introduction to cyanotypes and bookbinding. On day one, participants will meet at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute to take a relaxing walk on the trails to gather material for their cyanotype photograms. Instructor Mary Whalen will guide participants to things that will lend themselves nicely for cyanotype pages. On day two, participants will meet at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts to assemble and bind their cyanotype prints into a hard cover book. All materials will be provided. Bring a snack lunch. Call the KIA at (269) 349-7775 to register.
Members $75 | Non-Members $95
Call the KIA at (269) 349-7775 to register.
Tree Identification Hike
Saturday, October 3
9 - 11:30 am
This all-ages hike will take participants through forests and wetlands, highlighting the diversity of woody plants at the Institute. Instruction will focus on how to use leaf and bark characteristics to identify species. Participants will encounter over thirty woody species common to natural areas around the state during the hike. Students working on leaf collection projects are welcome. Hike will be approximately 1.5 miles through moderate terrain.
Members Free | Non-Member Adults $6; Children $3 Register
Backroads Barry County Bike Tour
Saturday, October 17
8 am - 1:30 pm
Explore some of the most scenic parts of Barry County by bicycle! Routes cover some of the most beautiful gravel roads in the county. All routes start and end at the Institute. View maps and more information.
The Importance of Field-Based Learning
Alice Kinney, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute Summer Research Student
Western Michigan University
We all know about the importance of field trips. They give children a chance to get out of the classroom and learn concepts through hands-on activities. While field trips and the experiences they allow become rare after elementary school, field-based learning opportunities for students of all ages—including adults—do exist and should be explored with enthusiasm!
Each summer the Institute offers Undergraduate Research Grants for the Environment (URGE) to area college students. This year seventeen URGE recipients conducted research on a range of topics, including entomology, eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, snake fungal disease, invasive species control, and grassland bird populations. Other projects focused on the arts: two students incorporated nature into writing through the Nature in Words Fellowship and GRCC student Hana Christoffersen, the 2015 Gordon Art Fellow, created linoleum block prints of native Michigan woodpecker species. Christoffersen says, “This summer has been an incredible experience. The worthwhile collaboration with my mentor and the opportunities to work outside every day observing woodpeckers soaring and drumming in the trees above me, to share in the driven, intelligent research community, and to face and overcome design challenges daily are my favorite parts.”
Of course, learning does not end in college. Just ask Plainwell High School science teacher Sandy Breitenbach. She has participated in five different research projects from multiple organizations throughout her adult life because, as she believes, “Doing research has increased my knowledge about many different concepts in science and has increased my understanding of how science is conducted. It is the one of the best ways I have found to be a life-long learner, and best of all, it is just plain fun!”
Adults aren’t the only ones having fun. Younger learners are, too. This July a group of ten local high school students spent two days each week at the Institute participating in the Summer Science Exploration Program. Led by Hastings High School science teacher Marty Buehler, Delton Kellogg High School science teacher Connie High, and Institute Education and Field Station Director Sara Syswerda, this program has given students a chance to interact with college students, do science in a real world environment, and experience what a future in environmental sciences may be like. Buehler finds giving students the chance to work hands-on in the field helps them remember what they learn and believes having the chance to apply their knowledge in a real-world situation is an irreplaceable experience.
While it may seem like finding a field-based learning opportunity is a rarity in southwest Michigan, it is by no means impossible! Just follow these simple steps:
1. Think about what you’re interested in
2. Do some research—talk to friends and teachers, go to the library, and do internet searches
3. Apply for research positions, register for field-based learning programs, or sign up to volunteer
4. Seal the deal, get involved, and spread the word of field-based learning!