Twin Creek Nature Area hosts ecology camp in Evart

Coordinator: 'Our goal is to teach ecology and sustainability practices to our kids'

EVART — Twin Creek Nature Area in Evart hosted a group of students from Marion Public Schools last week as part of the SEEDS EcoSchool program.

Site coordinator Erin Horton told the Herald Review that the group was participating in a six week ecology summer camp.

“We were really happy to be able to come here and have this hands on opportunity for the kids,” Horton said. “I can’t believe the number of activities they have prepared for us today.”

Students participated in activities at each station throughout the nature area, learning about the significance of the natural habitat represented at each station. Activities included learning about the watershed and the life cycle of water, touring and learning about the wetlands, learning about groundwater, identifying invasive and native species, learning about pollinator gardens and creating a beehive.

“They will be taking ground water level measurements and learn about the different tools for that,” Ice Mountain natural resources manager Arlene Anderson-Vincent said. “Evart Garden Club member Kathy Fiebig will teach them about the pollinator garden. We have all kinds of stations set up.”

Following the station activities, the students were put into groups and assigned a station where they created a video describing the station and why the nature area was important to the community.

The SEEDS EcoSchool program brings place-based learning opportunities to students with hands-on and outdoor activities that develop leadership and life skills and teach about ecology and conservation of natural resources.

“Our goal is to teach ecology and sustainability practices to our kids,” Horton said. “Throughout the school year, we do after school program during the week. We do composting, hiking, learning about native and invasive species. We dissect fake salamanders and frogs.”

Horton said her group has established a school garden and the students maintain the garden. In addition, they have a composting program and compost the food waste from the school cafeteria, which is delivered to Morgan Composting.

“We are learning about nature all year long,” Horton said. “When they come to the summer camp, a lot of the kids were in the after-school program, so they are used to hearing the words invasive and native. This is the hands-on experience that goes along with the year-long program.”

The SEEDS EcoSchool after school program and summer camp is free to all students. It is funded by the Michigan Department of Education grant program, Horton said.

“We (Marion) are the first one in the area, and we are hoping to expand,” she said. “We are reaching out to the Evart school administration and hoping to establish the program here.”

Anderson-Vincent said they are very excited to be able to work with the school groups and bring them to the Twin Creek Nature Area to learn about nature and ecology.

For more information about the SEEDS Eco-School program, visit ecoseeds.org or email Horton at ehorton@ecoseeds.org.

For more information about visiting the Twin Creek Nature Area, email arlene.anderson-vincent@nestlewaters.org.