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.
buckthorn
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.
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Science Community Day

My internship at Blandford has allowed me to meet so manlaureny wonderful people! More recently I have met  Blandford’s person of the month- Professor Lauren Elliott. She knows that invasive plants are the second greatest threat to our natural communities next to ​habitat loss from development. She is taking action to engage her students in service learning at Blandford. She has helped host and participate in three work days at Blandford and has made a significant positive contribution to Blandford’s long term land management goals. How can you get involved? Go visit and suppport the Science Day at Grand Rapids Community College this Saturday 10-2pm or pledge to remove Buckthorn from your yard.
Learn how to guard and defend against alien invaders! Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about invasive species in Michigan, what impact they have on the environment and what you can do to help! There will also be stickers and pencils too!  The kids will have make “Wanted” Posters. They can join the GRCC GUARDIAN GANG and learn how to guard the environment from these alien invaders!
A Blandford Nature Center representative, lead eco-steward Heather Bell and the West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area Coordinator, Drew Rayner, will be on site to answer any questions. You can also learn about Blandford Nature Center  and all it has to offer the community!
This Blog post was contributed by Brooke Mellema, Blandford’s Land Stewardship Intern.
giving tuesday

 

Global Youth Service Day

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.stream clean-up

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.February

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/.