Earth Day Celebration 2024 | Planet vs. Plastics

Saturday, April 20 | 10:30 am-4:00 pm
United Methodist Church of Ludington | 5810 E Bryant Rd

AFFEW is excited to share a variety of in-person presentations during our Earth Day Celebration! The theme for 2024 is Planet vs. Plastics. This all day event will include many topics of interest. Our keynote speaker, Mary Fortier, will talk about the the most exciting global technology revolution in a century, Electrification! We’re also pleased to have Jim McGrath from Nature Discovery bring his interactive show featuring reptiles and amphibians. In addition we’ll have many organizations and groups represented at the information booths.

Event Schedule

10 am | Doors open
10:30-11:30 am | Butterflies and Skippers of Mason County | Dave Dister
11-11:45 am & 2-2:45 pm | Free Spirit Drum Circle (page 2)
11 am-3 pm | Informational Booths
11 am-3 pm | Earthly Treats by Dannee & Kay (page 2)
11:30 am-2 pm | U Dig It Community Garden Tours (page 2)
12-1 pm | “If Atoms Could Talk” The Electric Vehicle Revolution | Mary Fortier
1:30-2:30 pm | Reptiles and Amphibians | Jim McGrath
2:30 pm | Guided Hike with Dave Dister
2:30-3:45 pm | Water Sampling & Degradation to Streams/Water Bodies | Symon Cronk
+Kids events all day! (page 2)
+AFFEW booth:  Shirts, Student Tote Bags & Online Native Plant Sale info (page 2)
+Jamesport Brewing Company April Round Up (page 2)
+TruEarth April fundraiser for AFFEW (page 2)

10:30-11:30 am | Butterflies and Skippers of Mason County~Children’s Room East

Learn about butterflies and skippers known in Mason County. Dave Dister will cover a variety of species found in our area throughout his photographic presentation. He’ll also outline other species yet to be confirmed and provide information on host plants used for egg-laying in our county.

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. Dave moved to Ludington in 2008 and was a seasonal botanist for the Manistee National Forest and conducted a vascular plant survey of the 5,400-acre Ludington State Park. His expertise in field ornithology includes identification of Great Lakes breeding bird species by songs and call notes. Dave 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. Dave is a published author including his 2020 book The BIRDS of Mason County, Michigan.

12-1 pm | Keynote Speaker: Mary Fortier | “If Atoms Could Talk” The Electric Vehicle Revolution~Sanctuary

Climate change, geopolitics, influencers and regulation have created the most exciting global technology revolution in a century, Electrification! This talk will focus on Vehicle Electrification and the importance of electrochemistry’s role in the decisions we make as leaders, consumers and advocates. “If Atoms Could Talk…” will entertain and educate the most skeptical. Please join us and engage in the revolution!

Mary Fortier is presently an independent consultant who retired from General Motors in August 2022. Prior to her retirement, she was the primary leader for the Advanced Battery Cell Engineering team responsible for accelerating new technology into GM’s Electrification portfolio. Mary has 25 years of leadership experience at General Motors where she specialized in creating successful teams for new business leveraging talent who are multi-disciplinary systems thinkers and innovators.  Mary is an advocate for vehicle electrification and a contributor who has influenced leagues of individuals in their success for the same. Mary graduated from Ludington High School in 1980 where she enjoyed playing softball and hanging out with her friends and crazy cousins.

Thank you to Katie Provenzano with Katie Pro Video for donating her time for recording this event and others!

1:30 am-2:30 pm | Reptiles and Amphibians~Children’s Room West

Photo by the Nature Discovery

Michigan is home to 17 species of snakes, 10 turtles, 13 frogs & toads, 10 salamanders and 2 lizards. Nature Discovery maintains live specimens of most of these species for use in presentations and exhibits. These are often supplemented with color slides, audio recordings and other props. 

Biologist Jim McGrath along with his wife, Carol founded and operate Nature Discovery, a private nature center attached to their home north of Williamston, MI. What they bill as “the biggest little nature center in Michigan” is home to the state’s largest zoo of Michigan-native reptiles and amphibians. Jim and Carol travel all over the state offering presentations and exhibits for youth and adult audiences utilizing these live specimens, in addition to offering a wealth of other opportunities to learn about Michigan birds, insects, and more.

2:30 pm | Guided Hike~Outside behind church

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 United Methodist Church of Ludington .

2:30-3:45 pm | Water Sampling & Degradation to Streams/Water Bodies~Children’s Room East

Photo by Land Conservancy of West Michigan

Learn why it is imperative to sample your well water, preserve shoreline vegetation, identify water quality indicator species, and how to get involved in this work!

It is to no surprise our State’s waterways have been heavily utilized, altered, and impacted since our earliest people inhabited these lands. The advancements of technology, agriculture, and urban sprawl have dramatically changed the composition of our streams, rivers, and lakes. Any alterations to our terrestrial landscape inevitably affects our watersheds and groundwater. As the saying goes, “… flows downstream”  It is this notion for the past century that has caused harmful algal blooms, E.coli contamination, chemical contamination and so on. However, flowing water is powerful and resilient, especially when we take action to protect it’s banks. Commitment to preserving our connection to the aquifers, streams, rivers, and lakes is the greatest contribution we can make for the future generations, natural processes will handle the rest. 

Symon Cronk, Biologist, Mason-Lake Conservation District. Symon has been working with Michigan Conservation Districts for five years. He formerly served as MAEAP Technician to Newaygo and Muskegon counties and earned MAEAP Technician of the Year in 2021. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology from Ferris State University. He has diverse and specialized experience in forestry, sustainable agriculture, watershed monitoring, and native species planting. Symon has sampled hundreds of household wells, analyzed chemical and biological analytes in river systems, and collected aquatic invertebrates for Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps).

AFFEW Online Native Plant Sale 2024

All orders are accepted online for Garden & Single Species flats plus individual Quart & Gallon plants through April 20.

Help protect our species by gardening with native plants! These important plants provide nectar, pollen, and seeds for many insects, birds and animals. They are also hosts for many insects all year long. Native plants also require minimal maintenance and their deep root system absorbs more water than a traditional lawn. With the continuous decline of the Monarch butterfly population, you can make a difference by creating a habitat for these beautiful and important butterflies! Last year, our sale introduced over 1880 new native plants to our community! New in 2024, we have highlighted plants that are native to our section of the state on the order forms.

Having problems with deer eating your plants? View the list of deer resistant native plants from the Lansing chapter of Wild Ones.

AFFEW MEMBERS who ORDER Garden or Single Species Flats will receive a discount of $10 off Garden & Shrub Flats | $7 off Single Species Wildflowers, Grass & Sedge Flats!

Here’s how it works: Place your order with the online forms below. Please place your order by April 20! All orders will be confirmed with the nursery before the order is accepted. An email with a summary of your order and payment options will be sent after the order has been confirmed. Orders are available for pick up on June 8 at U Dig It Community Garden unless other arrangements have been made. Thank you for gardening with native plants and supporting AFFEW!

Garden and Single Species Flats

Each Garden Flat comes with 38 native plant plugs and a design plan for a 4’x10’ garden. Learn more about available Garden Flats 2024.

Single Species Flats also come with 38 plant plugs unless specified. Because our sale is later in the season the plants are often larger in size. These one year plants are grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides and are Michigan genotype.

Garden Flats: $100 | Wildflower & Grass Single Species Flats: $74 unless specified | Shrub Single Species Flats: $105 (Tax included)

Butterfly GardenGrassland GardenPollinator Garden
Rain GardenSemi Shade GardenMonarch Garden
Shoreline GardenTall Prairie Garden 
PLEASE NOTE: Plant substitution may take place due to availability for Garden Flats.

Quarts & Gallon Plants

This year we’ll offer a variety of individual quart  wildflower, grass, sedge and gallon shrub plants. All plants must be ordered in advance! View our 2024 Native Plant Species Guide to help you choose what plants will work best for your growing conditions.

Wildflower, Grass, Sedge Quarts: $7 unless specified | Shrub Gallons: $15 (Tax Included)


Have more questions? Contact Sara Bolan at 815-592-9032 or by email.

U Dig It Community Garden!

U Dig It Community Garden is a membership based organic garden that was established in 2010. We’re located behind the United Methodist Church of Ludington. Garden boxes are provided for personal use in a organic and sustainable environment. We depend on our members to volunteer by maintaining the garden boxes, grounds and equipment. Our journey with AFFEW began in January 2022 when our organizations merged!

In the fall of 2021 we began our expansion of the garden. By the fall of 2023 eighteen additional block beds were installed with the generous support of SRM Concrete  through their Giving Back program. We also received support from Lowe’s of Ludington and T & M Landscaping and Tree Removal as in-kind sponsors who provided equipment and labor to complete the project. After a busy spring and with the help of our volunteers, UDICG now has 65 beds!

In addition to personal boxes, we work directly with our local food pantry Lakeshore Food Club. We provide healthy produce in support of food security for our community. Many of the seeds grown for this program are donated by our partner Baker Creek Seed Company. Since 2021 our members and volunteers donated more than twenty-five percent of all produce grown!

In 2022 with the help of Michigan State University Extension, we introduced the U Dig It! Gardening Series. This educational series is for our members and the community.

In 2024 we’ll partner with AFFEW to host Dig It! Youth Summer Program for 9-11 year olds. This is an interactive program that grows, tastes and donates produce to our community. They also learn and experience a variety of aspects about nature, birds and our environment. Learn more about Dig It! Youth Summer Program!.


Garden Bed Availability
Existing members are given the opportunity to retain their beds before it is opened up to the public. We are currently full, but if you’re interested in being placed on the list for next years consideration, contact Sara Bolan, UDICG Director.

UDICG Mission
To educate its members and the general public in healthy eating by promoting sustainable gardening, organic practices, composting and environmental education for children and adults. Through volunteerism and donations from our gardeners, more than twenty-five percent of the produce is provided to support food security for our community.

When should I start my seeds?
It’s always a challenge to decide when it’s the right time to start seeds. Here’s a handy seed starting calculator that helps take the mystery out of when to plant! Download the Spring Seed Starting Calendar for Ludington.

Help support AFFEW and UDICG by becoming a member or making a tax deductible donation!

Microplastics in the Great Lakes

Below is a rebroadcast of a video presentation given last year by Art Hirsch on microplastics in the Great Lakes.

Microplastics in the Great Lakes 

Art Hirsch will discuss the sources, impacts, legislation and mitigation actions to address microplastics. Microplastics in the Great Lakes is an emerging water quality issue that has the potential of impacting human health and the aquatic environment. It has been estimated that microplastics are consumed by the US population at a rate of 5 grams per week; this is weight of a credit card. Microplastics are found in our food, water and even beer along the Great Lakes. Fish are ingesting microplastics that causes them to starve. Over 22 million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes every year and Lake Michigan is the #1 source.

Art Hirsch is a former environmental consultant with over 30 years of experience. He lives in Boulder Colorado and spends his summers in Pentwater, Michigan. He is originally from North Muskegon, Michigan and he received his Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University and a Master of Science degree from the University of Colorado. His expertise is in the areas of water quality, stormwater management, sustainability and environmental impact assessments. He is a member of the Climate Reality Project founded by former Vice President Gore and the For the Love of Water organization located in Traverse City and the Great Lakes Plastic Pollution Solutions Coalition. He is currently working on the Enbridge Line 5 Shutdown, GHG reductions associated with transportation, oil and gas operations and microplastics.