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4 County funds kids’ outdoor program


To the Editor:

Seven Ponds Nature Center was recently awarded a grant for $3,000 from the Four County Community Foundation for a project titled "Let's Get Children Outdoors." The grant provides funds to help get students from the Almont, Armada, Capac, Dryden, Imlay City, Oxford and Romeo school districts out to Seven Ponds on field trips over the coming year. The project addresses a growing concern that today's young people are not spending enough time outdoors. Today, children spend more than 50 hours per week with various electronic devices, including television, computers, video games, and cell phones.

On the other hand, they spend fewer than 20 minutes a week outdoors in unstructured time. As a result, we are raising an entire generation of young people who largely lack a basic understanding of natural processes, who are frightened by common plants and animals, and who have little appreciation for natural things. In addition, this lack of connection with nature is creating a variety of problems for our young people. It is being linked to the rise in obesity, diabetes, attention disorders and depression.

Seven Ponds Nature Center provides a variety of opportunities to local communities and a busy year around schedule of activities. The nature center has placed a special emphasis on children during its 44 year history and offers field trips for school classes, in-classroom activities, scout programs, home school programs, and a popular series of summer classes. The nature center has tremendous resources and is in an excellent position to provide some much needed environmental education activities for local young people. During this project, Seven Ponds will revise its existing school programs in conjunction with changing school science curriculums, and then offer funding for field trips to schools in Almont, Armada, Capac, Dryden, Imlay City, Oxford and Romeo. The grant is particularly timely as the current economic climate has had a big impact on local schools. Funds for field trips have been cut dramatically and many school districts have been unable to visit nature centers like Seven Ponds in recent years.

The "Let's Get Children Outdoors" grant will get children in these districts out to explore the nature center's fields, forests, prairie, and ponds, to learn about the natural environment. It will also help Seven Ponds maintain its usual busy schedule of school groups during these difficult economic times.

The grant is a reflection of the Four County Community Foundation's motto which is "For Good...For Ever." The foundation's original endowment was created from the sale of the Community Hospital on Van Dyke for $2.5 million. Currently, its endowment stands at over $8.4 million. The foundation serves the corners of Lapeer, Macomb, Oakland and St. Clair Counties. It is making a difference in the lives of people in Almont, Armada, Capac, Dryden, Imlay City, Lake Orion, Metamora, Oxford, Romeo and Washington. During its 22 year history it has provided over $5.5 million in grants for a variety of charitable purposes. It provided $292,400 in grants in 2009.

The Four County Community Foundation has supported the nature center with a variety of grants since 1991, including very generous grants for the center's recent capital campaign.

—Mike Champagne

Executive Director

Seven Ponds Nature Center

Dryden


June 02, 2010

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