For the full schedule of summer programs, visit miottawa.org/parks and click on the newsletter icon; or call 616-786-4847.
The Summer Interpretive Programs Series are naturalist-led walks that focus on a variety of subjects for adults and families. The walks last about 90 minutes and are canceled if raining. There are no program fees and advance registration is not required. Bring insect repellent and dress for the weather.
Exploring the Grassland will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 16, at the Nature Education Center. The short-grass native grassland at Hemlock Crossing should be ablaze with color for this hike along a hard-surfaced trail. Bring your camera.
The next walk in this series is What is an Oak Gall? At 2 p.m. Saturday, June 23 at the Nature Education Center. Explore the natural history of the unique galls found on oak trees. After a brief indoor introduction, the group will go outside to see how many different kinds of galls they can find on oak trees along the trails.
The last walk in June is a Butterfly Foray at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 30, at the Nature Education Center. Look for butterflies along the trails and learn the proper way to capture butterflies with a net, handle butterflies, and release them unharmed.
The Shoreline Amateur Astronomical Association is offering Summer Astronomy Sky Viewings on selected Fridays this summer (weather permitting) in the parking lot near the Nature Education Center. If the viewing is canceled due to weather on Friday, it will be rescheduled for Saturday. Telescopes will be provided or you may bring your own. Bring a lawn chair, binoculars (if you have them), and insect repellent. There are no program fees and advance registration is not required. Programs are for adults and older children. Sky Viewings are scheduled the second and fourth Fridays in June at 9 p.m., July at 9 p.m., and August at 8:30 p.m.
For adult birders, there is an all-day Breeding Birds Field Trip on Friday, June 15. This trip will focus on finding and identifying a variety of breeding birds including waterfowl, gulls, raptors, shorebirds, and songbirds in west Michigan. The trip is from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., transportation is via personal vehicles, and binoculars are required (some loaners available). There is no fee for this trip, however, a state park vehicle passport may be required. Advance registration is required. A letter with details and meeting location will be sent in advance to those registered.
And for the kids, a Nature Walk Just For Kids will be every Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Nature Education Center. Join the Nature Education Center staff for these one-hour hikes at Hemlock Crossing. The plants and animals in the park change every day as the season progresses. These age-specific walks will focus on these changes in a fun and interactive way. There are no fees; however advance registration is required and space is limited. Walks are canceled if raining. Walks for kids in kindergarten through second grades will be on June 24, July 8, July 22, Aug. 5, Aug. 19, and Sept. 2. Walks for kids in third through sixth grades will be on June 17, July 1, July 15, July 29, Aug. 12, and Aug. 26.
The Nature Education Center is located at Hemlock Crossing County Park in Port Sheldon Township. From U.S. 31, travel west on Croswell Street just over the tracks to West Olive Road. Travel south on West Olive Road to Hemlock Crossing. The center is at the end of the park drive.