The Grand Traverse Conservation District recognizes that healthy ecosystems—wetlands, woodlands, dunes and meadows—are the centerpiece of our local economy and our overall way of life. We therefore believe that learning about and caring for our natural world is the responsibility of our whole community. As such, we take a whole community approach to engaging children, adults and families in the appreciation and stewardship of our natural world.
Many people have come to our area to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us. We believe that the therapeutic value of nature is an essential tool in promoting healthy, vibrant schools and local communities. We provide these educational opportunities in a number of ways:
- Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative (GTSI) – The Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative is one of eight regional hubs of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, a statewide effort to develop knowledgeable and active stewards of the Great lakes through hands-on learning in the community. To this end, we work with students and teachers to make authentic, vital connections between and among schools, teachers, students and their communities.
- Community Stewardship Series – From our headquarters at the Boardman River Nature Center, we provide fun, educational programming that engages children, families and adults of all ages in hands-on, minds-on exploration and discovery.
- Pre-K Programs – The Peepers Preschool Program was created in 2008 in response to a growing national concern for the disconnect between children and the natural world. For our very youngest of students (ages 3-5), the Peepers program provides an ideal environment for those pivotal “first nature experiences”—the ones that last a lifetime and set children down a path of curiosity, empathy and wonder. Offered once a week throughout the spring and autumn, each 90-minute nature program includes a seasonally-themed activity and ends with an exploratory hike to bring the lesson to life!
- Field Trips – Each school year, the Grand Traverse Conservation District welcomes teachers and students from throughout the region to the Boardman River Nature Center. While here, they gain valuable knowledge and are provided with a tangible, real-world context to their math, science and humanities curricula. These kinds of “place-based” learning experiences have been shown to elevate student test scores, improve self-confidence, enhance critical thinking skills, and foster a lifelong love of the outdoors.
- Summer Camps – The perfect blend of learning and adventure, each summer the Grand Traverse Conservation District Summer Nature Camps provide kids, ages 4-14 with outdoor experiences they will never forget! From half-day to weeklong camps, the Boardman River Nature Center offers plenty of fun ways to help your child unplug, unwind and explore the joy and wonder of the natural world.