Earth Day 2023 | Invest in our Planet

Saturday, April 22 | 10 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 2023 is Invest in our Planet. This all day event will include many topics of interest. This year’s keynote speaker is Dave Dempsey, environmental author who has helped shape conservation and Great Lakes policy for 30 years! Were also pleased to have Jim McGrath from Nature Discovery bring his interactive show featuring Michigan native snakes.  In addition we’ll have many organizations and groups represented at the information booths.

Event Schedule

10 am | Guided Hike with Dave Dister
11 am-12 pm | Identifying and Treating Invasive Species
11 am-3 pm | Informational Booths
11 am-3 pm | Earthly Treats by Dannee & Kay
11:30 am-12:30 pm | Bikes & Transportation
11:30 am-2 pm | U Dig It Community Garden Tours
1-2 pm | A Conversation About Environmental Protection in Michigan
2-3 pm | Musical fun with the String-a-Longs!
2:30-3:45 pm | Snakes Alive!

10-11 am | Guided Hike with Dave Dister

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 .

Sweet Fern

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.

11 am-12 pm | Identifying and Treating Invasive Species

Over the past several years, employees of the Mason-Lake Conservation District and North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA) have been working diligently to combat the invasive plant species challenge at Cartier Park in Ludington. Volunteers with AFFEW also assist with this ongoing project. 

Hemlock Wooly Adelgid

In this session, representatives from both organizations will talk about the recent project that included identifying and treating nearly 2000 trees for hemlock woolly adelgid. In addition, this past fall several invasive trees, shrubs and plants were removed from the park and replaced with native species. Participants will also learn how they can identify, treat and receive more information from these organizations to deal with invasive species on their property.

Vicki Sawicki has been working in invasive species since her master’s thesis on purple loosestrife, completed in 1998 at Binghamton University in New York. She worked in invasive species control and habitat restoration for the U.S. Forest Service in Baldwin, before becoming the coordinator for NCCISMA.

Bri Jasinski is the HWA Project Manager at Mason-Lake Conservation District. She joined MLCD in December 2021, moving back home to Michigan after 8 years working in biology for various government and nonprofits in the southwestern U.S. and Alaska. She is enjoying all the water and snow in beautiful Ludington, MI.

11:30 am – 12:30 pm | Let’s talk about walking and biking in Ludington!!

AFFEW Board Member Sharon Edgar considers herself an active transportation (amateur) expert. Her rule of thumb is: if it’s under 5 miles you walk it or bike it (unless there’s bulky cargo involved!) Sharon biked 4,600 miles last year — most of them around town. Sharon will tell you about her experiences walking and biking in Ludington and hopes you will also share yours!!!  Whether for recreation, fitness, or love of the planet, getting there under your own steam can be very rewarding.

1-2 pm | Keynote Speaker: A Conversation About Environmental Protection in Michigan with Dave Dempsey

Join Dave Dempsey, prolific author about Michigan’s environment and environmental leadership and his guest Lois DeBacker, managing director of The Kresge Foundation’s Environment Program, for a conversation about Michigan’s environmental history and current conditions. Dave has helped shape conservation and Great Lakes policy for 30 years and is an author and co-author of six conservation books. As a leader within the Kresge Foundation, Lois focuses on helping communities build resilience in the face of climate change while attending to racial justice. An informal conversation between Dave and Lois (moderated by AFFEW Board member Sharon Edgar) as they talk about their professional and personal history in environmental protection with a focus on the Great Lakes, climate change and Michigan’s history as a (former) environmental leader.

Dave, Lois and Sharon met when Dave was serving as Michigan Governor Blanchard’s environmental advisor in the late 1980s.

Dave Dempsey has helped shape conservation and Great Lakes policy for 30 years and is an author and co-author of six conservation books. He is currently a policy advisor for FLOW, a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to protecting Great Lakes waters using the public trust doctrine. Dave served as Environmental Advisor to Michigan Governor James J. Blanchard (1983-89). He has served in leadership and policy positions with the Michigan Council on Environmental Quality, Michigan Office, Clean Water Action, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Conservation Minnesota and the International Joint Commission Dave has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree from Michigan State University. He lives in Traverse City, Michigan. Learn more about Dave Dempsey and his publications, visit his website.  

Lois DeBacker serves as managing director of The Kresge Foundation Environment Program, which focuses on helping communities build resilience in the face of climate change while attending to social justice. She joined the foundation in February 2008. Lois’s experience includes more than 16 years at the C. S. Mott Foundation and 10 years in Michigan state government in both policy-development and program-management capacities. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. She lives in Birmingham, Michigan.

Sharon Edgar is retired from 32 years of state government service in Michigan and Ohio, 18 of those years at the upper management level. She worked in the areas of transportation and natural resources management. She is a Ludington resident and member of the AFFEW Board of Directors.

2:30-3:45 pm | Snakes Alive!

Fox Snake

Learn all about Michigan snakes during this interactive presentation! Fears and misconceptions about snakes are addressed in addition to dissemination of sound information about snake biology and ecology. Individual species’ habits and characteristics are discussed with inspection of live specimens. At the presentation’s end, all participants are encouraged to handle the snakes. There’s a possibility you might even get the chance to see them feed on their favorite food!!

Biologists Jim and Carol McGrath 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.

Earth Day Celebration

Our annual Earth Day Celebration will be an interactive, in person all day event! We’ll have a variety of speakers presenting and informational booths representing the community and our partners. The day will include activities for children including a live reptile show and a guided hike. We’ll also have tours of the U Dig It Community Garden located behind the church. Visit our Earth Day Celebration page for more information.