MISTY BROOKS – Land Stewardship Volunteer
I began my visits to Blandford Nature Center when I was a little girl. I was fortunate enough to have grandparents living in the Hilburn condominiums at the end of the street. I can remember walking down to Blandford, without fail, every single time we visited with them. Sometimes it was for various festivals (I can especially recall the annual sugar bush festival) and other times we would just come to walk the trails. We always would spot birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and various other wild animals when we were there. I loved walking the quiet nature trails and learning about plants and animals. I was always so excited to visit Blandford back then, and I still am today.
I have a fond memory from one of my early childhood visits. We walked in, my grandparents, my brother and sister, and myself. The woman behind the desk asked us if we wanted to see something cool. Being young and adventurous children, of course we wanted to see whatever it was. She brought out a tall cardboard box. At a first glance I remember seeing just a towel inside. She gently moved the towel to reveal a tiny baby squirrel! Apparently someone had found it fallen from a nest and brought it to Blandford, hoping that they could help this tiny creature. Although I don’t know whatever became of that baby squirrel, I do remember learning two things that day. 1) Baby squirrels are hairless and pink. 2) I was really excited about Blandford and the things that they did, and I wanted to do something like that when I grew up.
That day really made an impression on me. I grew up very passionate about nature, and wanting to help wildlife. I would spend hours working in the garden with my dad. We would take walks out in our own backwoods, and my parents would teach me things that they knew about nature. It all really stuck with me. A few years after graduating high school, I decided to enroll at Grand Valley State University as a Natural Resource Management major.
Today, I am a senior, and have stuck with that major throughout my college years. Even though my grandparents no longer live in Hilburn condominiums, I recently started visiting Blandford again. I contacted them hoping to do some volunteer work for an afternoon for one of my classes. That day turned into several days, and the days into months. This has blossomed into a lasting and reoccurring volunteer position! I am so happy to be frequenting Blandford Nature Center again, and it is even better as an adult.