Native Plant News

The bees will be a buzz when they find this new addition to Blandford Nature Center’s landscape.

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We’re excited to be the recipient of a grant from the Wildflower Association of Michigan (WAM) to install native plants around a new detention basin near our parking lot. The detention basin collects storm water from our parking lot and the roof of our new Visitor Center, and the native plants will help filter pollutants from that storm water before it enters the watershed.

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The plantings will also support pollinating insects and serve as a demonstration area to show visitors how native plants can prevent erosion and water pollution, provide wildlife habitat, and add color and diversity to an urban landscape.

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The beautiful colors of late summer, as shown in this stunning patch of Goldenrod and Joe Pye Weed Photo Credit: via Wildflower Association’s Facebook page provided by Kathryn Lund Johnson Nature Photography

The Wildflower Association of Michigan encourages the preservation and restoration of Michigan’s native plants and native plant communities, and holds a two-day conference each year in Lansing. We are happy to have them as a partner!

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Interested in being a part of the installation of this project through giving your time, passion and skills to Blandford?

Blandford Nature Center has several areas of our non-profit that needs your helping hands! Whether it’s pulling invasive plant species along one of Blandford’s beautiful trails, tending to the Wildlife Ambassadors that call the Wildlife Education Center home, or teaching today’s youth about the wonders of nature as a Volunteer Trail Guide, volunteers are highly valued as an integral part of the success of Blandford Nature Center.

Blandford has many opportunities that let you share your time and talent. We would love to help you find something that matches your interests, skills, and availability.

How do I become a Blandford Volunteer? Head over to the website for more details.

 

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Land Stewardship Opportunities

“We must not only protect the nature, we must restore what has been destroyed … Once our natural splendor is destroyed and man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature, his spirit will wither…”
 – President Johnson
Blandford Nature Center hosts several community “stewardship days” throughout the year. Work focuses on habitat restoration, trail maintenance, stream clean up and removal of invasive species on several sections of our 143-acre site.
Education is always a major focus of the day. Stewardship Days provide close-up, hands-on work that has tangible results. Community members learn to identify and manage plants that may be growing in their own backyards, their schools or city parks. Volunteers will learn to identify common invasive plants like buckthorn, privet and honeysuckle.
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Walk-ins are welcome. We meet in the main visitor center parking lot. Be prepared to work off the trail with sturdy shoes and a water bottle.
Stay connected to our ongoing efforts through Facebook , Instagram and Twitter.  We hope to see you out on any of the following Saturdays: June 18July 2, July 16, July 30August 13, August 27: 9:30-12:30pm.

A Student Returns to Serve

Blandford is very fortunate to have loyal volunteer support from area organizations. One of our cherished partners includes Farmers Insurance. It has become tradition that when a new Customer Service Associate training is complete, the group has a day of bonding and service at Blandford. Volunteer Coordinator, Jessie Schulte shared, “We are always extremely impressed with the enthusiasm the group brings. These are the best costumer service  employees and we see that in their positive, can do attitude.”

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Maintenance Manager Martin Ferrone often comments that, “They are one of the hardest working groups we have had out to serve at Blandford.” We cannot thank them enough for returning month after month to move fence, mulch trails, prep pioneer buildings for special events and eagerly jump into any assignment.

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On their last service day, March 11th, we discovered that one of the Farmer Insurance heros of the day, Shineene Houston, was a former Blandford Environmental Education Program student. And another, Nickolas James, was a Sugarbush festival musician. It was fun to reminisce and be reminded of the rich connections our volunteers have with Blandford Nature Center.

Earn Rewards by Serving at Blandford

Next week is invasive species awareness week and Blandford will have eco-stewards continue to cut and treat invasive species preparing for spring habitat protection, reducing the amount of invasive chemicals flowing into vernal pools. Stewards are motivated to help because they care about the projects and lands at Blandford. But there is another special bonus volunteers can gain by helping this winter. You could earn points redeemable for all sorts of fun rewards by volunteering at Blandford.
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Writer Heidi Stukkie shared “[What] began almost two years ago as an online program where people could earn rewards for recycling has now entered phase two. The City of Grand Rapids’ MyGRcitypoints.com website has recently added two new two features that let people earn points and get involved in their communities.
The first new feature encourages people to volunteer with the incentive to earn rewards for their actions. The way it works is residents sign up for an account on the site and then volunteer for one of the featured opportunities. Afterward, they earn points that can later be redeemed for discounts on restaurants, services, and retail purchases.

gr pointsPhase one of the MyGRcitypoints program was developed to encourage recycling in the City limits. There are now around 10,000 users and the program has increased recycling by 80 percent. This new second phase is open to anyone in West Michigan, and not just City residents.

City Manager Greg Sundstrom says the key with phase two of MyGRcitypoints is not so much about earning points, but instead about “keeping local dollars local and building communities.” He believes these two actions are important for our city’s future.

“But we are one of the first communities to do this and that sets Grand Rapids apart from other cities,” he says. “It’s kind of a radical idea.”

The City is open to suggestions for the site and ideas for future campaigns that will motivate people to get involved in the community.”All we’ve done is build the platform,” says Sundstrom. “Others can now help figure out what to do with it.”

If you’d like to earn rewards for your volunteer or recycling efforts, or participate in the special Park Makeover campaign, here’s how to get involved:

  Visit MyGRcitypoints online to find out more.
–    Sign up to start earning points.
–    Volunteer to earn points.
–    Like MyGRcitypoints on Facebook.
–    Follow @myGRcitypoints on Twitter.
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Pictured above is volunteer Tom Riddle helping remove invasive plants along a fence row on the edge of Brandywine creek in January 2016. Now, Tom and others can earn rewards for helping protect nature. MyGRcitypoints wants “everyone to take part in transforming the community into a better place to live, work, play, eat, and shop. Throw a few cans in that new recycling cart, plant a tree, or spread some woodchips; then watch your points and local businesses grow as we all work together to create a vibrant, sustainable community.”