Shadbush Nature Center: community, service, education

The Burgess Shadbush Nature Center, located in River Bends Park is practically in the back yard of Utica. The center is a hot spot for young volunteers interested in Michigan great outdoors.

Bugs, fish, birds, and mammals all have a place within the center. May, especially, is an important month at the center. May is the month Great Blue Heron’s return from their long flight south during the winter.

The Great Blue Heron is a signature feature of the park every spring. The birds raise young in massive nests in trees, and they attract many bird enthusiasts to the area for viewing.

The Heron festival has been celebrated in River Bends and Holland Ponds park since 2012, this year the festival was held on May 9th,

“We brought in mist nets and caught birds, we also caught fish and frogs,” Junior Ryann Easterbrook said.

“The park is my favorite place in the world, I’ve volunteered over 1,000 hours there.”

The park/center also holds other events throughout the year, including Pioneer Christmas, which is celebrated the old fashion way with a log cabin and syrup making.

There is also the Halloween event every year, which is held in the center and targets the younger trick or treaters, the center is transformed into a haunted house, using the animals such as snakes and spiders.

The nature center is run by JoAnn Burgess, and the naturalist of the area is Dan Farmer. During the summer months teens have supplemental opportunities to put in hours volunteering at the center. The center offers kids camps all about the great outdoors,

“Prospective volunteers should call the nature center,” River Bends Coordinator Kerry Crosier said, “or go visit the center in person.” ” The number is 586-323-2478, and the center is open Wednesday through Sunday.”

The summer camps that need help include Archery for beginners( grade 4-6) and advanced( grade 4 and up). Other camps are for kids interested in bugs and crafts.

“It’s a fun environment to be in,” Junior Kaylee Radtke said.”We help the public and we take care of animals.”

The Shadbush Nature Center continues to provide excellent opportunities for kids and teens to learn.