Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Visit to Blandford Nature Center

I recently went along on a trip to the Blandford Nature Center, as a volunteer helping out with a summer education trip.
I had no idea this place existed until this trip, although I probably would have if I'd grown up in the Grand Rapids area. They do a lot of work with area schools, bringing kids out to experience a bit of nature and see some of the wildlife being rehabilitated. It reminded me of Oregon's outdoor school program, which I attended way back when I was a sixth grader, though not nearly as involved.
The nature center is on the northwest side of Grand Rapids, in a fairly heavily wooded area. There are quite a few trails to walk around in the woods, though on this short visit we stuck to the shorter ones. There's also plenty of open meadow area and some swampy wetlands spots, so visitors get to see all sorts of different habitats. Our group was large enough that we split up and cycled through all the various areas a few at a time, with the center staff leading us through some areas and exploring others on our own.
In and around the central building are habitats for injured or otherwise incapacitated animals. We saw owls, turtles, rabbits, and even a bobcat. The kids I was with were particularly impressed with this part of the trip, especially when they were able to touch the turtles.
There's also a farm on the premises, growing all sorts of vegetables and other crops. Not a lot of quantity, but plenty of variety. Same with animals, with a small flock of chickens and a few pigs. They also make maple syrup in the winter - we didn't see that part in action, of course, but did pass by the barn and saw the equipment.
It's good to see these kind of nature centers available to the public, particularly for school groups. It's important for city kids to get exposure to the world as it exists outside of the urban areas where they spend so much of their time. Hopefully the Blandford Nature Center will continue to serve that need for a long time to come.

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