West Michigan throws party for Mother Nature

In celebration of Earth Day on April 22, dozens of great events and outdoor activities are on tap across the region throughout the entire month.

“Earth Day is the perfect chance to teach your kids the importance of respecting and conserving our natural resources and wildlife for future generations,” said Merisa Campbell of the Michigan Wildlife Council.

It also presents an opportunity to learn about efforts to take care of Michigan’s vast outdoor resources, Campbell said, noting that the Michigan Wildlife Council has kicked off an education campaign highlighting the importance of conservation and scientific wildlife management.

The Michigan Wildlife Council’s website ‒ HereforMIOutdoors.org ‒ contains lots of information about the campaign and conservation in general.

In the mood for a road trip? One of the biggest celebrations around is the MI Earth Day Fest in Rochester. The free April 22‒24 festival at the Rochester Municipal Park/City Center will include:

  • Whole Kids Korner with rock wall climb, straw bale maze, arts and crafts and other fun activities
  • Dance and live music
  • Dozens of green/wellness products, services and program exhibits
  • Door prizes and contests
  • Food and Farm areas with local and organic products and food service
  • Wellness programs and services including free yoga, massage and health screenings
  • Presentations by experts and community leaders

The Michigan Wildlife Council is one of several organizations whose sponsorship allows free admission to the 11th Annual MI Earth Day Fest. Campbell said the council is happy to do all it can to help wildlife to survive and thrive.

Festival hours are 4 to 8 p.m. April 22, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 23, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 24. For more information, visit http://www.migreenteam.com/miEDF.

Want to stay close to home? Throughout April, there’s something for everybody who’s celebrating Earth Day ‒ from planting trees to scenic road races to “green” parades. Check out these great ways for your family to get involved:

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks

When: April 9 to May 14
Where: Grand Rapids Parks
Cost: Varies
Info: http://www.friendsofgrparks.org/events/ or 616-288-7209

If your family wants to help Mother Nature this month, then the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks has plenty of programs and activities lined up for you. From community cleanup days to tree-planting classes and native plant gardening, there’s something for all ages and levels of expertise.

April 16 Earth Day Lakeshore Celebration (Grand Haven)

When: 12:30‒6 p.m.
Where: Grand Haven Community Center, 421 Columbus Ave., Grand Haven
Cost: Free

This 11th annual event begins at 12:30 p.m. with a Green Parade starting in the Grand Haven Courthouse parking lot. March on foot, bicycle or anything that doesn’t use fossil fuels to the Earth Day Fair, which is held from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Grand Haven Community Center. There will be booths with demonstrations, information, food, games and environmentally friendly products. An Earth Day Rock Concert is 3 to 6 p.m. at Central Park.

Info: http://www.grandhaven.org/?s=earth+day or 616-502-5990

April 16 2nd Annual Earth Day 5K (Grandville)

Time: 9 a.m.
Where:  Grandville High School, 4700 Canal Ave. SW, Grandville
Cost: $15/person; $50/family of four
Info:  616-540-1472

This fun-run/walk is open to people of all ages and athletic abilities. Organized by the Grandville High School Green Team, its goal is to raise money to fund environmental and energy-saving initiatives for GHS and the Grandville community.

April 16 – SRHOW Outdoor Woman Monthly Mixer 

When: 2–5 p.m.
Where: Billy’s Lounge, 1437 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
Cost: Free
Info: http://bit.ly/1RrPb5B

She Rides Her Own Way, a campaign designed to build self-esteem and bring health awareness to women by getting active outdoors, will celebrate Earth Day by hosting Outdoor Woman Monthly Mixer. Bring friends and learn more about the great outdoors.
April 16-24 – Muskegon Area Earth Week

Info: muskegonearthweek.org

The 5th Annual Muskegon Area Earth Week festival will include events and activities all over the county, most of them free. The week kicks off with a shoreline cleanup at 9 a.m. April 16 at Muskegon State Park. Other highlights include a book drive April 18–22 and an Earth Fair Expo hosted by West Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 23 at Montague High School.

April 20 – Blue Tie Ball

When: 6–10 p.m.
Where: Goei Center, 818 Butterworth St. SW, Grand Rapids
Cost: $65 members; $80 nonmembers
Info: http://wmeac.org/bluetieball/

The second annual Blue Tie Ball is a great night of fun, a fundraiser for West Michigan Environmental Action Council’s (WMEAC) water protection programs and a celebration of Earth Day.

April 23 – Earth Day Celebration (Kalamazoo)

When: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Where: Kalamazoo Nature Center, 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo
Cost: Free
Info: https://naturecenter.thankyou4caring.org/earthday5k or 269-381-1574

Start off your day by running or walking in the Earth Day 5K along some of the nature center’s most scenic trails. Be sure to cheer on the kids at the Raccoon Run for ages 8 and under. The day also includes free trail hiking, Nature's Playground and children's crafts.
April 23 – Earth Day Celebration (Grand Rapids)

When: 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
Where: Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, 11 Sheldon Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
Info: http://www.grcm.org/#!earth-day-celebration/m58wa or 616-235-4726

Learn how you can do your part to help the planet as you create recycled art, plant a seed, make your own terrarium, and take home a tree sapling to plant courtesy of the Swanson Foundation!  April is Go Green month at the museum, so go online to check out all their Earth Day programs.

May 7 – Party for the Planet!

When: 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Where: John Ball Zoo, 1300 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids
Cost: Free with admission ($8 for adults; $6 for kids)
Info: http://www.jbzoo.org/events or info@jbzoo.org

Learn tips and tricks about what families can do to save our world’s resources and wildlife right in your own backyard! There will be giveaways, games, crafts and fun animal activities!

May 7 – Earth, Wind & Tired 5K Dune Dash

When: 11 a.m. –1 p.m.
Where:  Muskegon State Park, 3560 Memorial Drive, North Muskegon
Cost: $25–$50
Info:  http://www.msports.org/event/ewt/ or 231-744-9629

If you want a real challenge, try Mother Nature's course, built over thousands of years, with sand dunes, rocks, fallen trees and forest terrain. Following the race, there’ll be food, beverages and live music.

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