MI—Global Youth Service Day, along with the support of Youth Service America, Michigan Nonprofit Association and the Michigan Community Service Commission, has awarded Blandford Nature Center a grant of $500 for the upcoming “Protecting Forest Floodplains and Neighboring Waterways” restoration work day on Friday, April 24th. This work day will bring many area organizations and three Grand Rapids Schools together as they work towards a common goal: keeping Blandford Nature Center’s ravine habitat healthy and beautiful.
High school students from Grand River Preparatory School , 8th graders from CA Frost Environmental Science Academy and 6th graders from Blandford Environmental Education Program (BEEP) will partner together in four teams so that every student has a chance to become an Eco-Steward. Guided by Blandford volunteers and staff, student teams will work along the banks and floodplain of Brandywine Creek with each team going through four, 30-minute work and learning sessions.
Session 1—Creature Comforts: Blandford trail guide volunteers and interns will lead students to high-quality ravine habitat where they may see turtles, frogs, snakes, and birds. Here, guides will share how erosion control and rock placement can protect wildlife habitat. Working with their partners, students will transfer small boulders and rocks in place to stabilize the shore and learn how erosion plays a part in smothering out macro-invertebrate
Session 2—Cut the Mustard!: Students will learn how invasive plants can destroy Michigan’s habitats by limiting animals’ access to clean water, food sources and nesting sites. Next, they will learn to identify three common invasive non-native plants found here in Michigan: garlic mustard, dame’s rocket and creeping jenny. Then, each team will pull and collect these invasive plants in biodegradable garbage bags for later disposal.
Session 3—Stream Makeover: A stream is only as healthy as the land around it. With their partner, students will look for evidence of frogs, snakes, salamanders, newts and turtles along the creek banks. They will learn what makes a good habitat and make this habitat even better by carefully removing man-made debris and learn why fallen limbs and dried leaves should be left in place. Debris will be hauled in wheelbarrows to our dumpster and sorted for recycling.
Session 4—Buffers for Dragonflies and Other Wildlife: Students will learn the importance of natural “buffer zones”—plants that grow near lakes and streams that filter run-off water and catch silt. They will learn how replacing invasive species with native species can result in not only cleaner streams but better habitats for reptiles, amphibians, birds and other animals.
Each team will put this knowledge to use as they plant native fruit bearing shrubs. These shrubs will be marked with the group’s name and date.
Global Youth Service Day is the largest service event in the world and the only one dedicated to the contributions that children and youth make 365 days of the year. “There are a million lessons to be learned in restoration work,” said Jessie Schulte, Land Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator at Blandford Nature Center. “We are proud to have Grand Rapid Public School students protecting our most precious natural resources”. Having children directly immersed in nature and practicing stewardship to keep their community’s naturescapes healthy is part of Blandford Nature Center’s mission.
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, the nature center is dependent on generous donations and passionate volunteers to meet its mission of educating, engaging and empowering our community to become stewards of the natural world that sustains us. Many community partners and organizations will be assisting with this restoration work day.
- Blandford Nature Center student interns, volunteers and staff
- Grand Rapid Public Schools’ Blandford Environmental Education Program (BEEP)
- Cornerstone University (intern)
- Grand Valley State University, student volunteers
- Grand River Preparatory School
- Ottawa Conservation District and Kent Conservation District
If you would like to volunteer or be involved at Blandford Nature Center please call (616) 735-6240 or visit http://blandfordnaturecenter.org/get-involved/.