From the seeds of awareness and experience come the fruits of appreciation, understanding, and ultimately responsibility. The Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens offers a variety of educational programs for all ages throughout the year.
- Programs for children and families
Critters & Company (for 3–6 year olds and their caregivers)
- Each season, we offer a four week series of programs designed for children aged 3–6 (the critters), and their caregivers (the company), to explore nature together. Participants explore a new topic each week.
Woodlands & Wetlands summer camps (for 4–11 year olds)
- A fun, hands-on learning adventure where campers become immersed in the outdoors, and develop a greater understanding of God's creation.
Family programs (for families with children aged 3–12)
- Always free, always fun!
First Saturdays: Programs are held on the first Saturday of October, November, December, February, March, and April. Explore a new topic each month.
Spring break: Activities are held every day during Grand Rapids Public School system's spring break. Enjoy your "staycation" at the Preserve.
- Always free, always fun!
- Discovery Field Packs
Create your own adventure with our free, self-guided Discovery Field Packs. All ages will enjoy exploring the preserve with these themed backpacks containing easy-to-understand guides and activities. Learn more about the Discovery Field Packs.
- Elementary school groups
Curriculum-based, outdoor learning experiences for your budding scientists. Our leaders will engage your students with a close-up, hands-on view of nature. Find out more about various elementary school groups.
- College programs
Environmental career panel
- Learn about a variety of environmental careers from professionals working in both the nonprofit and business worlds. Panelists will speak about their current positions, academic and career paths, and will share advice with students wanting to work in the environmental field.
Environmental Education Certification
- As a college student, you can gain environmental educational certificates for your resume, discover your new career at one of our environmental career panels and/or develop valuable skills as a member of our student staff.
- Adult programs
- Preserving our natural habitats through ongoing ecological education. Branch out, stimulate your senses, and engage your mind at our presentations and workshops.
- Inspiring workshops presenting two of the most widely taught environmental education and conservation programs—Project Learning Tree or Project WILD. Award winning, interdisciplinary curriculum materials are demonstrated for formal and non-formal kindergarten through high school teachers. Strategies and activities meet state educational standards, are easy to implement, can be used indoors or outside, promote cooperative learning, and positively impact student attitudes toward the natural world.
- Native Plant Sale
On the first Saturday of May each year, we hold a Native Plant Sale with the aim of improving the health of our environment as these plants are spread through the community. Everyone is invited to shop our sale for inexpensive, lovely, low-maintenance plants that help restore biodiversity and purify stormwater. Learn more about the Native Plant Sale.
- Fall Open House
We host an open house during Calvin College's Family Weekend each October. Everyone is welcome to stop in the Bunker Interpretive Center, create some of our favorite nature art projects, and go for a hike on our scenic trails. Learn more about the Fall Open House.