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,
Be entertained by our celebrity auctioneers,
Buy a raffle ticket or two or three…,
Take in the sounds of local musicians,
Reconnect with old friends and meet new ones who share a common interest in Pierce Cedar Creek Institute and its programs,
A special thank you to our event sponsors, Morgan Stanley and Service Express, Inc. 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 contractors moved out while plumbing was installed. Up next are interior walls!
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
Join us at the Institute for an evening of finger-lickin' barbeque and toe-tappin' bluegrass music at BBQ & Music! The evening starts with a sumptuous selection of summer favorites like brisket, slow-roasted picnic ham, and buttermilk biscuits. After dinner, two great bands, Who Hit John? and Red Tail Ring, take the stage for music that will have the whole family dancing in their seats! Dinner has been known to sell out, so register early to save your spot!
Environmental Issues Forum: Emerging Issues in Forestry
Thursday, August 13
11:30 am – 1 pm
Barry Conservation District Forester Shawn Kelly and Phillip Kurzeja from the DNR will lead this forum geared toward helping community members and leaders understand the problems impacting Barry County's forests, such as diseases, pests, and climate change, and find answers on what might be done to mitigate their effects. Feel free to bring a sack lunch. Refreshments included.
Autumn olive is a common invasive shrub found in old fields and forests throughout Barry County. At Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, staff and volunteers work to reduce populations, encouraging natural succession to occur. During the summer and fall, volunteers will have multiple opportunities to help with this massive endeavor. Volunteers should wear long pants and closed-toed shoes. Gloves will be available, but participants are welcome to bring their own.
See Barry County from a different perspective during this paddle trip. Participants will have the opportunity to learn basic canoe and kayak paddling techniques and will then travel from Charlton Park to Hastings along the Thornapple River. Registration includes boat and personal flotation device rental, transportation to the launch, instruction, and snacks for the trip. Participants may bring their own canoe or kayak for a discounted rate, please call
Come out to the Institute and enjoy a great view of the night sky. Watch the nearly full moon rise as the stars come out one by one. The Kalamazoo Astronomical Society will have telescopes on hand to get a close look at some of the wonders of the universe. Program may be rescheduled or canceled due to weather conditions.
Non-Member Adults $6 | Non-Member Children $3 Register
Another ScienceStrong Day at the Institute
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.