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)


10-11 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 Presentation Series | Michigan Reptiles & Amphibians Up Close

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.

Sign-up for this presentation!