Set on 737 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.
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 the cement crew prepped the area to pour the cement floor.
Backroads Barry County Bike Tour
Saturday, October 17
8 am - 1:30 pm
Explore some of the most scenic parts of Barry County by bicycle! Routes cover some of the most beautiful gravel roads in the county. All routes start and end at the Institute. View maps and more information.
Saturday, October 17 and Sunday, October 18
10 am - 5 pm both days
The Institute is one of the top desitnations for the 5th annual Arts and Eats weekend. Area artists will display and sell their creations at the Institute for two full days. Stop by to talk with the artists, browse, purchase a few gifts and then travel to the next studio, farm, or restaurant.
Arts and Eats is a backroads art, food, and farm tour of Barry and Allegan Counties. Many area organizations, agencies and individuals have collaborated to produce this creative and entertaining experience. View the map of participating venues.
To learn more about the tour and discover dozens of venues, visit ArtsandEats.org
Free admission at every venue.
Lunch and Learn: Forest History of Michigan
Friday, October 23
10 am - 1 pm
The morning begins with a program onthe formation of the earliest forests after the retreat of the glaciers in our area all the way to the present by Matt Dykstra, program manager at the Institute. The talk will explain patterns in flora, fauna and ecosystems in Michigan's forests and how humans have impacted them. The program will be followed by a tasty lunch by Chef Paul Vugteveen.
Join the Institute’s new Chef Paul Vugteveen in baking fall-inspired quick breads. Learn to prepare coffee cakes, muffins, and loaf pan breads, plus many more all with a fresh culinary twist. Take some home just in time for the holidays!
Environmental Issues Forum: Update on the Kalamazoo River Oil Spill
Thursday, November 5
11:30 am - 1 pm
Five years ago an Enbridge pipeline broke, sending more than 840,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River. Since the spill, millions of dollars have been spent in the attempt of removing the oil from the surrounding environment. Steve Hamilton, professor at Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station, will provide an update on the clean-up process and how conditions on the river have changed. Participants are welcome to bring a lunch to the program.
The Importance of Field-Based Learning
Alice Kinney, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute Summer Research Student
Western Michigan University
We all know about the importance of field trips. They give children a chance to get out of the classroom and learn concepts through hands-on activities. While field trips and the experiences they allow become rare after elementary school, field-based learning opportunities for students of all ages—including adults—do exist and should be explored with enthusiasm!
Each summer the Institute offers Undergraduate Research Grants for the Environment (URGE) to area college students. This year seventeen URGE recipients conducted research on a range of topics, including entomology, eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, snake fungal disease, invasive species control, and grassland bird populations. Other projects focused on the arts: two students incorporated nature into writing through the Nature in Words Fellowship and GRCC student Hana Christoffersen, the 2015 Gordon Art Fellow, created linoleum block prints of native Michigan woodpecker species. Christoffersen says, “This summer has been an incredible experience. The worthwhile collaboration with my mentor and the opportunities to work outside every day observing woodpeckers soaring and drumming in the trees above me, to share in the driven, intelligent research community, and to face and overcome design challenges daily are my favorite parts.”
Of course, learning does not end in college. Just ask Plainwell High School science teacher Sandy Breitenbach. She has participated in five different research projects from multiple organizations throughout her adult life because, as she believes, “Doing research has increased my knowledge about many different concepts in science and has increased my understanding of how science is conducted. It is the one of the best ways I have found to be a life-long learner, and best of all, it is just plain fun!”
Adults aren’t the only ones having fun. Younger learners are, too. This July a group of ten local high school students spent two days each week at the Institute participating in the Summer Science Exploration Program. Led by Hastings High School science teacher Marty Buehler, Delton Kellogg High School science teacher Connie High, and Institute Education and Field Station Director Sara Syswerda, this program has given students a chance to interact with college students, do science in a real world environment, and experience what a future in environmental sciences may be like. Buehler finds giving students the chance to work hands-on in the field helps them remember what they learn and believes having the chance to apply their knowledge in a real-world situation is an irreplaceable experience.
While it may seem like finding a field-based learning opportunity is a rarity in southwest Michigan, it is by no means impossible! Just follow these simple steps:
1. Think about what you’re interested in
2. Do some research—talk to friends and teachers, go to the library, and do internet searches
3. Apply for research positions, register for field-based learning programs, or sign up to volunteer
4. Seal the deal, get involved, and spread the word of field-based learning!