Earth Day | Restore Our Earth

Nature Hike Series

April 11-April 24
Earth Day Quiz Walk | Cartier Park

Go for a Walk…Learn more about a local park environment…Celebrate Earth Day – all at the same time

Participants will at their leisure walk about 1.40 miles following numbered signs placed along the Cartier Park pathway. The signs 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!

The quiz questions  as well as more guidance on how to participate in the QUIZ WALK can be found on a sign posted in the pathway parking lot at the corner of Bryant Road and N Rath Avenue. The quiz questions can also be viewed with a smartphone by scanning a QR code.   

Once you complete the QUIZ WALK, you can enter a prize drawing by taking your picture framed by AFFEW’s Earth Day photo booth sign located at the pathway parking lot. Send your photo by email to AFFEW or post it on our Facebook page. 

If you’re interested in helping remove invasive plants from Cartier Park, join our group of volunteers on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month.

Saturday, April 24 | 230 pm 
Exploring Nature Close to Home
Maximum 10 per hike. Masks and proper social distancing is mandatory! 

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.

Dave Dister earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in botany from Miami University and a secondary education teaching certificate in biology and earth science at the University of Cincinnati. He moved to Ludington in 2008 and was a seasonal botanist for the Manistee National Forest through 2014. From 2009 through 2014 Dave conducted a vascular plant survey of the 5,400-acre Ludington State Park, which was published in “The ‘Great Lakes Botanist” in 2017. His expertise in field ornithology includes identification of Great Lakes breeding bird species by songs and call notes. Dave has conducted breeding bird atlas work in 5 states. He is the compiler for the Ludington Christmas Bird Count as well as the Mason County Migration Count. In 2012, he took over an annual Breeding Bird Survey Route for the US Fish & Wildlife Service that runs 25 miles through parts of Mason, Lake, and Newaygo Counties. Lastly, in January 2020 Dave self-published “The Birds of Mason County, Michigan.” He’ll have copies of his recent book available for sale the day of the hikes for $20.

Saturday, May 1 | 1 & 230 pm
Ludington State Park Hikes
Maximum 25 per hike. Masks and proper social distancing is mandatory!
Alan Wernette, Ludington State Park Interpreter  

Forest and Wildlife Health & Management | 1-2 pm
This hike will focus on plant diseases, invasive pests and deer herd issues.

Water Levels of the Great Lakes | 230-330 pm
Learn more about the iconic endangered Piping Plover bird and the changing weather patterns that have caused water level issues in our state.  

Alan Wernette is a Michigan native, and a graduate of MSU’s Natural Resources program with a specialty in Park and Wildlife Interpretation. He has worked for the Michigan State Parks for 34 years, with the past 24 years as the Ludington State Park Interpreter.

Past Presentations

Watch ALL past presentations on our YouTube Channel!

Tuesday, April 6 | 7-8 pm with discussion to follow
Michigan Reptiles & Amphibians Up Close
Speakers: Jim & Carol McGrath
Nature Discovery

Among many other state-native creatures Nature Discovery, in Williamston, MI, is home to the state’s largest educational zoo of Michigan native reptiles and amphibians. Via Zoom and using live specimens, Jim & 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 the Ludington area. 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 you can do about it. At the presentation’s conclusion you can participate in a question and answer period and even watch a few of them being fed up-close!

About the Speakers

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 an impressively 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 | 7-8 pm with discussion to follow
Let’s Talk About Recycling in Mason County
Speakers: Matt Biolette and Sharon Edgar 

Fasten your zoom seat-belt for a fast paced overview of recycling options available to residents of Mason County, followed by the opportunity for questions and discussion.

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 your local curbside program!

Sharon will cover the drop-off recycling available to Summit 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.

You live in a part of the county that does not have recycling access? Sharon and Matt will offer their thoughts on why that is the case and what you might do if you’d like to see recycling access in your township.

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 our 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. Matt believes in being part of the conversation and has previously served on the board of directors for the Michigan Recycling Coalition for 8 years and currently serves on several county solid waste planning committees.

Sharon Edgar is on the AFFEW Board and a resident of Ludington. She retired to Ludington in 2018 after 30+ 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 27 | 7-8 pm with discussion to follow
Mr. Natural’s Organic Gardening for the Homeowner
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 your soil will help produce higher yields for your gardening season. Composting is an economical way to enrich your soil while reducing the amount of kitchen waste in landfills. A win-win for you and our planet!

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 veggie garden at the Senior Center in Hillsdale. He even had this garden plowed by draft horses and mules! 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 | 7-8 pm with discussion to follow
Benefits of Native Plant Gardening
Speaker: Garrett Noyes
Birdsfoot Native Nursery

Join us for 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. They grow Michigan native wildflowers, grasses, sedges and shrubs for landscape professionals, retail nurseries and habitat restoration efforts in the northern part of the state. They are also committed to applying organic practices to their operation. AFFEW partners with Birdsfoot Native Nursery for our annual Native Plant Sale on the second Saturday in June.