American Heritage Festival 2016

The day felt like autumn had arrived – cool in the morning, warming as the day progressed. A little sun, a few clouds – a wonderful day for the American Heritage Festival at Woldumar! I took my camera and recorded a little bit of what I saw. The horsedrawn wagon ride is always a favourite…horse-drawn wagon ride

Musicians provided pleasant sounds as I walked through the vendors and displays – it was too early for the advertised music, but obviously some had arrived ahead of time and couldn’t resist getting together informally under the trees.

 

There was lots to see and learn – the Woldumar blacksmith was making a pair of pliers, a gentleman explained about trapping beaver for the pelts, a woman showed her pottery, and the Moon Log Cabin was a site to learn about early kitchen tools among lots of other cool stuff!blacksmith at work, fur trapper, potter, kitchen tools on display

I even sat in the corner of the herb garden for a few minutes to get a view of history from that perspective. The view of the cabin and proximity to the blacksmith shop gave me a chance to ponder what life would have been like in those days!

view from the herb garden h2410002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, of course, I can’t visit Woldumar without some time on the trails – there were others I passed (some human and some animals) but the chance to walk in the woods is always relaxing and refreshing.

fellow hikers on trail - ducks on the lagoon - a horse-drawn wagon comes through the woods

Get To Know Our 2016 Camp Staff!


staff

Summer Camp is officially underway, with an awesome group of staff to lead our campers, inspire their curiosity and help them learn about nature while having a wonderful summer at Woldumar!

travis2016Travis is our Assistant Director, and this is his first year working at Woldumar. Travis was born on the same day as NFL great Emmett Smith, and is excited to teach canoeing!

alex2016Alex is our Activities Coordinator, also working his first summer at Woldumar. Alex loves studying language and is currently learning Spanish and Portuguese. He enjoys teaching about nature and the environment and how our actions affect the world around us.

harleigh2016This is Harleigh’s first year as a camp counselor at Woldumar. Harleigh has a “Bug” — a Boston Terrier/Pug mix — named Penelope. She’s excited to take campers bug catching (we assume she’s talking about insects, not dogs!).

jonathan2016Jonathan has been on staff at Woldumar for four years, and was a camper for 6 years before that! Jonathan loves to sing and writes songs for the piano (side note: he’s also one talented artist. He made the wood-burned “Camp Discovery” sign you see in these photos). Jonathan is looking forward to sharing his knowledge of edible wild plants with campers this summer.

tessa2016Tessa was born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula and moved to Kalamazoo 3 years ago to study psychology. This is Tessa’s first year working as a counselor at Woldumar. She’s been looking forward to getting to know her campers and teaching them about the earth. She says, “Michigan is a beautiful state and the perfect place to learn about the wilderness.”

mike2016Mike is also working as a counselor at Woldumar for the first time, but as a teacher, he brought classes of elementary students here a number of times. He has seen the Dave Matthews band over 25 times, so after camp don’t be surprised to find him laying under the table and dreaming (those kids will wear you out!). Mike is elated to be teaching outdoors this summer!

tom2016Tom is a camp counselor and has worked at Woldumar for 3 years. He was a camper for many, many years before that. Tom loves to write stories and is excited to teach campers about shelter building and survival skills this summer!

lauren2016This is Lauren’s 5th year working at Woldumar, and she pretty much grew up here as a camper. Lauren can entertain campers by moving her bottom eyelids from side to side… she’s looking forward to making this the best summer of Camp Discovery yet!

The staff are all looking forward to a great summer exploring and discovering science and nature as they play outside with your kids!

 

Spring Has Come to Woldumar! May 6, 2016

If you would like your writing or art featured in the Woldumar newsletter or blog, please email director@woldumar.org.

trail through woodsSpring is a time to get out in nature! And today was a beautiful day – warm and sunny. So I took the opportunity to visit Woldumar; to see the wonderful historic buildings and to wander along the trails. The fruit trees were in full blossom in the central campus area, lending a spring beauty to the barn, the Moon Cabin and even the Sunrise Pavilion.

 

 

 

Spring was more evident in some areas than others. The pines are majestic all year round, but I liked the contrast provided by the spring green of the smaller bushes along the path. On the edge of the prairie, bushes’ new leaves were more evident than new growth in grasses or wildflowers. Ponds were skirted by lush new growth. Trees were sporting new leaves throughout the woods and an occasional flowering tree was delightful.

But my favorites are always the flowers and animals, and I was delighted to get a chance to see some today.

For more information about Woldumar Nature Center visit the website or Like Woldumar on Facebook. Here is a PDF version of the trail maps.

Barn Painting Update

Summer Barn GreenOne of the best characteristics of Woldumar is its historical connections to some of the most influential members of Lansing’s past. The Woldumar property originally belonged to Gladys Olds Anderson, daughter of automobile pioneer R.E. Olds. It was donated to the Woldumar Nature Association over 50 years ago to be used for environmental education efforts. With that gift came a large dairy barn, which was dubbed the title of R.E. Olds Anderson Rotary Barn in 2004 when Rotary Clubs in the area helped with major renovations. Since that time, Woldumar has used the space for camps, school programs, and community events, making it an invaluable asset to our environmental education efforts.

In July of this year, a visitor nominated Woldumar to be the recipient of Lansing State Journal’s Make a Difference Day Grant, which would provide us with funds and volunteers to re-paint the R.E. Olds Anderson Rotary Barn. Woldumar made it to the online voting round, and the support we gained was phenomenal; Woldumar had a strong lead for the majority of the time that voting was open. Our lead was swept away during the final hours, which was a disappointment to say the least, but it was a great encouragement to have the support of over 2,000 individuals during that voting week.

A few weeks after the voting had closed, we were approached by a volunteer who wanted to help us by painting some of the trouble spots on the barn. He graciously donated his time and supplies for this project, and we were once again astounded by the kindness and support of the community. Art Kyler, a long-time volunteer and lifetime member of Woldumar, saw the importance of a fresh coat of paint and referred us to a company that had recently painted his own barn. Seeing our need, a representative from the painting company gave us a discounted quote, but he mentioned there was a small time frame in which he would be able to complete the job.

Barn2We quickly launched an online campaign in an attempt to raise the funds needed to re-paint the barn. With your help, we were able to raise almost 50% of the necessary funds over one weekend – a true testament to the positive change that can come about with the help of a community. The majority of the barn was painted the next week, and only a small unpainted section remains. A handful of kind-hearted volunteers have offered to assist with the last portion of this project, provided that Woldumar can secure funds for the last few gallons of paint. We are confident that the support we have received thus far will continue so that we can see through to the completion of this project.

We are incredibly thankful for the volunteers and donors who have stepped forward to help with this project. Woldumar exists for our constituents and by our constituents; the benefits of Woldumar’s accomplishments exist because of the tremendous support of the community and are enjoyed by many. If you would like to donate your time and/or expertise towards the completion of this project, please contact us at 517-322-0030. Donations can be made here– please select “Barn Painting Fundraiser” as the type.

 

Playmakers/Subway Trail Run: A Huge Success!

Run SmallLast week, hundreds of individuals from all over the greater Lansing area came out to Woldumar to participate in the Playmakers Subway Summer Trail Series. After huddling under the Rotary Barn deck during a brief stint of rain, people sprawled across Woldumar’s main campus to engage in various pre-run rituals.

As the time neared 6:30pm, the brightly colored crowd gathered Kids running smallnear the starting line, ready to take on the trails. Woldumar’s newly appointed Executive Director, Kevin Wernet, took the microphone to thank the participants with a friendly greeting before jumping behind the line to join them. With a loud blast of the air horn, the crowd burst into motion as they set off on their journey.

Woldumar was the second of three runs in the series. The first run, hosted at Haslett High School, took place on their cross-country course near the end of June. The next run will be held at Falling Waters Trail in Jacksonon August 20. All of these runs are free, however donations are accepted to benefit the hosting organizations. Woldumar was able to raise over $300 through the generosity of participating runners and walkers, which will help us further our mission to educate people about the natural environment.

We would like to thank Playmakers, Subway, and our photographers Amie Lucas and Ursula Hoppe for helping to make this event a great success! Additional pictures of the event can be found on our Facebook page. If you would like to participate in a trail run at Woldumar, stay tuned for more information about our Run-A-Munk 5K Trail Run, coming up on November 7.

Letter from the Director

One profound benefit of working for an organization like Woldumar is the privilege of observing nature’s transitions. Winter’s blanket recently gave way to a forest floor of ephemerals. As I write this, those spring blossoms are disappearing into deep, lush summer greenery. In a few short months, we’ll watch autumn’s paintbrush spread dazzling colors, which will all too soon disappear under next winter’s first flakes. The change is constant. It’s beautiful. It’s inspiring.

As an organization, Woldumar is changing. We have a new staff, most of whom will celebrate their one-year anniversary this summer. This will be our first summer under a new camp director. Several new volunteers are getting their feet wet maintaining our gardens, grounds, and computer systems. All of these new faces have brought new approaches to the way we operate, changing the look and feel of the organization.

Woldumar has also experienced a change in leadership. In February, after seven years of working for Woldumar in a variety of capacities, I accepted the role of Executive Director. Having witnessed some significant struggles for a number of those years, it was not an easy decision, but one I felt I needed to make. My heart is here. I grew up in the area and attended Woldumar as a child. I’m excited to make positive change and lead the organization in a more efficient and more sustainable direction.

In my first few months on the job, we’ve written a new strategic plan. We’ve worked very hard to limit the organization’s expenses. We’ve trimmed our program offerings to focus on core, mission-driven efforts, and we’ve eliminated programs that were poorly attended or required too many resources. An emphasis has been placed on customer care with extended hours and a more consistent staff presence in the Visitor Center. Our newsletter will be distributed every other month, instead of quarterly as in the past, and you will begin to see more frequent emails and updates to our website. We are offering a new menu of membership options as well as regular, organized volunteer opportunities. We are building partnerships with other organizations, all in the name of rallying the community around this organization.

If you’ve ever felt compelled to become involved at Woldumar, we need you now more than ever before. As the area’s only private non-profit nature center, we depend on your donations to stayoperational. Woldumar is a resource managed by its members, for its members, and a healthy, involved membership is essential to our long-term success. We hope you’ll take a moment now to review your membership status and consider renewing and/or making a donation.

Additionally, Woldumar depends on volunteers to maintain our grounds and trails, plan and implementfestivals and events, and help around the office. We need your participation in programs and events.We need your involvement governing and leading the organization. As detailed in our strategic plan, we have very high hopes for Woldumar – new ways to serve our members and the Greater Lansing Community. Woldumar has a bright and exciting future, but we will need to work together embracing change, supporting change, being agents of change, to make that plan a reality. Please join us.

Camp Discovery is Almost Here!

After a long, cold winter, we are finally seeing signs of spring! The mountains of snow have melted to make way for budding flowers, the animals have come out of hibernation to sunbathe in the lagoon, and the chirping of new life can be heard all throughout the forest. Spring also means that the school year is coming to a close, and it is time to start thinking about how our children will be spending their summer.

If you have been out for a walk at Woldumar, you know first-hand that immersing yourself in nature can have positive effects on your overall well-being. Studies show that connecting with nature in this way can help with behavioral and mental issues such as anxiety and depression, and it can also result in increased levels of creativity and productivity. These findings, in combination with values such as teamwork, physical activity, scientific exploration, and environmental stewardship, have been the inspiration for our Camp Discovery summer program.

Camp Discovery provides opportunities for children to experience a guided exploration of Woldumar’s many diverse eco-systems through weekly themed lessons. Children will leave Camp Discovery with a sense of connection to the world around them, a heightened interest in the scientific process, and memories that will last a lifetime.

To download a copy of our 2015 Camp Discovery brochure and register your child for camp, visit our Camp Discovery page.