AFFEW will observe Earth Day throughout April.

March 24, 2021

AFFEW will observe Earth Day throughout April.

AFFEW (A Few Friends of the Environment of this World) is planning to hold a month-long celebration of Earth Day beginning with a five week Zoom presentation series starting Tuesday, April 6. 

Registration required for all events. Go here for more information.

Tuesday, April 6, 7 to 8 p.m.: Michigan Reptiles and Amphibians Up Close with speakers Jim and Carol McGrath. Among many other state-native creatures Nature Discovery, in Williamston is home to the state’s largest educational zoo of Michigan native reptiles and amphibians. Via Zoom and using live specimens, Jim and Carol McGrath will discuss a wide range of common and uncommon frogs, salamanders, turtles and snakes found here, with an emphasis on “herps” found around Mason County. They’ll discuss identification, habitat, interesting behaviors and ecological connections of each featured creature, including human-induced problems that are bringing some populations down, then, what can be done about it. At the presentation’s conclusion there will be a question and answer period and a live feeding. 

Jim McGrath, the founder of Nature Discovery, has a degree in wildlife biology from Michigan State University and over 34 years experience as an interpretive naturalist. He is a weekly specialist Michigan natural science teacher at Montessori Children’s House in Lansing, Stepping Stones Montessori in East Lansing, and Okemos Nursery School in Okemos. Jim also presents on a wide range of Michigan-specific wildlife topics in venues across the state which are geared toward any age and demographic group. A strong lifelong interest in the natural world, coupled with an enthusiasm to share knowledge with others, is key to Jim’s popularity with students of all ages.

Carol McGrath has a degree in biology and chemistry from the University of Illinois, Chicago. After working several years as a chemist in the private sector, she has worked with her husband Jim the past 24 years with wildlife education, in addition to other aspects of science education. This includes custom, hands-on biology, physics, physical science and chemistry lessons geared to any grade level. Carol is a specialist science teacher at Montessori Children’s House in Lansing, Stepping Stones Montessori in East Lansing and Okemos Nursery School. She has been teaching youth-oriented classes through Lansing Community College for 20 years. Carol’s love of science is infectious to all students, preschool through high school.

Tuesday, April 13, 7 to 8 p.m.: Let’s Talk about Recycling in Mason County with speakers Matt Biolette and Sharon Edgar. 

Matt will cover the curbside recycling available to residents of Ludington, Scottville, and Pere Marquette Township, including what items are collected and where they go once received. He will also explain why these specific jurisdictions have curbside recycling access (spoiler alert – they get what they pay for!) Matt will also offer tips on how to effectively participate in a local curbside program. 

Sharon will cover the drop-off recycling available to Summit Township and Hamlin Township residents. She’ll also discuss information available on AFFEW’s website about local organizations and businesses in the area that accept specific items, for free or a fee.

For people who live in a part of the county that doesn’t offer recycling access, Sharon and Matt will offer their thoughts on why that is the case and what can be done.

About the Speakers

Matt Biolette of Republic Services is the municipal services manager for northern Michigan. He works closely with local governments to help implement solid waste, recycling services and other programs for residents and business in the region. He has been working in the solid waste and recycling industry for the last 13 years with experience within recycling processing facility operations, hauling operations, and contracted services programming for municipal, commercial, and industrial entities. Sharon Edgar is on the AFFEW Board and a resident of Ludington. She retired to Ludington in 2018 after 30-plus years with the State of Michigan. She held a number of positions within the Departments of Natural Resources, Transportation and Environmental Quality, including supervisor of the unit within the Department of Environmental Quality that was responsible for the state’s recycling grant programs. Sharon represents AFFEW on the Michigan Recycling Coalition’s Education Committee.

Tuesday, April 20, 7 to 8 p.m.: Solar 101 with speaker Greg Oliver.

Greg Oliver will discuss the benefits of solar and options for homeowners. He’ll also outline the different types of installations, explain Net Metering and the many incentives currently available.

About the Speaker

Greg Oliver is a graduate of Thornwell Presbyterian Divinity College. He has experience in construction, project management, and the use of a myriad of computer platforms and systems. He has been in the solar industry for five years in a variety of roles. Greg is married with three children and loves to serve in a local non-profit.

Tuesday, April 27, 7 to 8 p.m.: Mr. Natural’s Organic Gardening for the Homeowner with speaker Alan Haslam. 

This session will focus on organic gardening and the benefits of composting. Learn how to turn everyday food scraps (non-meat) into a rich soil for your garden. Introducing this “black gold” into the soil will help produce higher yields for the gardening season. Composting is an economical way to enrich soil while reducing the amount of kitchen waste in landfills.

About the Speaker

Alan Haslam has been gardening since preschool, thanks to his grandparents, avid gardeners themselves! Grandma and Grandpa Haslam believed in organic methods and lots of compost.

Alan also learned how to properly trim fruit and other trees from his grandpa. He became a certified master gardener and developed a vegetable garden at the senior center in Hillsdale. Alan relocated to Ludington in 2013 and worked for Julia Chambers’ landscaping business. He took over some of Julia’s clients after she retired. He called the business Mr. NaturAl’s Gardens LLC, truly promoting natural and organic methods. Alan retired in 2020 and now focuses on expanding his micro farm backyard.

Tuesday, May 4, 7 to 8 p.m.: Benefits of Native Plant Gardening with speaker Garrett Noyes. 

An informative presentation on the benefits of adding native plants to your landscape. These amazing plants have adapted over centuries, making them easier to grow and beneficial for the birds, animals and other critters in your yard. They are better suited to handle extreme temperatures, diseases and pests in their local environment. They also adapt well to a variety of soil conditions with limited water. The best part, these beautiful plants continue to add to your landscape over time.

About the Speaker

Garrett Noyes is the co-owner of Birdsfoot Native Nursery located north of Traverse City. The nursery grows Michigan native wildflowers, grasses, sedges and shrubs for landscape professionals, retail nurseries and habitat restoration efforts in the northern part of the state. The business is also committed to applying organic practices to its operation. AFFEW partners with Birdsfoot Native Nursery for its annual Native Plant Sale on the second Saturday in June.

April 11-24: Nature Hike Series, Earth Day Quiz Walk, Cartier Park, Ludington

Participants will, at their leisure, walk about 1.4 miles following numbered signs placed along the Cartier Park pathway. The signs provide provide answers to specific questions that will increase your awareness and appreciation for Cartier Park, increase your understanding of Earth Day and offer suggestions on individual efforts we can all take to protect our local environment. You will also get to know AFFEW as an organization. Many of the signs have a scannable QR code for more information about the topic. The quiz will be fun for children and adults.

Saturday, April 24, 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.: Exploring Nature Close to Home.

Learn about unique plants, trees, animals and birds close to town with local author and botanist Dave Dister. He’ll point out the variety of species found in the wetland, open field and hiking trails found behind Ludington United Methodist Church. Masks and social distancing required.  

Saturday, May 1, 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Ludington State Park hikes. Maximum 25 per hike. Masks and proper social distancing required. Hike trails with Alan Wernette, Ludington State Park interpreter. 

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