Say what you will about 2016; it was a pretty good year for me. Early in the spring, I pitched a book idea to Adventure Publications about Michigan’s nature centers and preserves, and wouldn’t you know they liked it! So I spent the the spring and summer traveling around the state with my kids looking for the best nature centers and nature/wildlife preserves in Michigan to share with readers.
Nature is valued in Michigan, and the number of communities that support nature education and preservation is overwhelming. In the end, we whittled our favorites down to just over 50.
Some properties were nothing more than a sign indicating a trailhead; others have a robust community of supporters that can rightfully boast of museum-like exhibits, educational facilities, and calendars full of classes and events.
I was honestly surprised by how much we found. The idea for the book sprang from our attempts to find outdoorsy stuff to do and see with our kids. As we visited familiar vacation spots, we were surprised that there were nature centers everywhereâ€”many we had never heard of.
In many cases, these sites are less that fully utilized resources. Most are free (and those that have fees are more than reasonable), and they all encourage families to be more engaged with the natural world.
This blog is meant to be a “universal” resource, so we’ve not focused too much on regional activities, but over the next couple months, I will share some of the more interesting places I talk about in the book. If you haven’t really embraced your local nature centers, maybe these posts will an inspiration.
In the meantime, Michigan’s Best Nature Centers and Wilderness Preserves will be available from booksellers in mid-April.