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Thurston Nature Center News of Feb 11, 2015

Greetings - Thurston Nature Center Neighbors and Friends,

Over the past 4 months I have been reminded several times how important it is to have and share our mission statement, and to never assume that everyone knows and understands it.

So……as I get a chance to write it down one more time, and with all the new tasks we have to accomplish at the TNC, I ponder what it really means to each one of us and how we can be more inclusive and participative as we move forward into the new year. 


“To promote and foster student, community, and family, interactions  and relationships as partnerships

in the education, appreciation, stewardship, and enjoyment, of nature and the environment.”



Thurston Pond & Wetland Restoration Project - Status

o   Many thanks to all of you who donated funds toward the campaign of Restoring The Thurston Nature Center and more specifically to the Pond and the Wetlands Restoration Project. Your support is fantastic and so much appreciated. The contributions over the last 2 months amounted to approximately $40K. While we are still short of our $60K goal, it reflects the strong intent, commitment, and desire of our community to continue to preserve and conserve the TNC.

o   We are staying optimistic, and we are making progress to insure that our vision becomes a reality, and our mission carries on for another 25 years. With the support of OHAC and AAPS (the two owners of the TNC), as well as the AAPS and City of Ann Arbor, we continue to move forward though the various stages of approvals and their required due diligence. Our target is still to complete all the MDEQ permitted construction work by this coming September.

o   For more details and information on the status of the project and on our fundraising efforts please see the attachments to this email. If you have any questions on our fundraising activities and/or our project feel free to contact Frank ().

o   And yes…it is not too late… you can still contribute – every dollar helps! J  

GREEN-STEAM at Thurston

GREEN-STEAM has begun at Thurston Elementary School. The TNC provides the school an outdoor classroom, which supports “Exploration and Experiential  Learning” concepts, by initiating the use of hands-on manipulatives, student inquiry, thematic integrated-subject instruction, and active participation in a project-based authentic assessment learning process like GREEN-STEAM.

Collaborative initiatives between teachers, staff, and the PTO using the new TNC-Rain Garden (sponsored by a funds and resources from Toyota and Washtenaw County-Water Resources Commissioner) have resulted in various GREEN-STEAM projects

o   Kindergarten - Amphibians habitat - “hibernating mud”

o   1st grade – Amphibian diet – “insect/bug collecting”

o   2nd grade - Selecting, raising, releasing amphibians

o   3rd grade - Building and designing a rain garden

o   4th grade - Amphibian habitat – water quality

o   5th grade - Amphibian – required water aeration (supported by an Educational Grant from the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation)

For more information and perhaps a wish to volunteer and help the program, contact GREEN- STEAM LEAD Mary Manthey ()

Clague Middle School - Ashley Clague Leaders and Service Core (ACLSC)

In honor of Mr. Ashley Hubert Clague (“Live in service to our community”), Principal Mr. Ché Carter has created ACLSC. The project encourages collaboration between Clague middle school students, and the community. The program will promote service learning, leadership, community involvement and citizenship. TNC stewards have been requested to help support students learn the importance of servant leadership and its impact on social change and healthy communities. We are excited about the opportunity to work with the Clague students. If interested in getting more information and/or helping contact Frank ()

WAM Supports TNC-Oak Savanna

Thanks to our veteran, long-serving, and dedicated volunteers, in 2009 the TNC was able to receive a “forestry” grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Along with matching funds from the community, the grant was used to purchase and plant 20 oak trees (consisting of Bur, Chinkapin, White, and Swamp White Oak). This effort kick-started the creation of our Oak Savanna ecosystem.

Just recently, Jim Vallem’s  initiative resulted in the TNC receiving an Education Grant from the Wildflower Association of Michigan (WAM). The grant will cover the cost of native grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs to convert 1/2 of the non-native turf grass in our Oak Savanna to a short-grass prairie. The new plants will be typical of what historically thrived in our area among scattered oaks. We'll be doing this portion in 2015, and completing the other half in 2016. To make this project fun and educational the TNC will collaborate and partner with the Thurston Elementary School, PTO, and Boy Scouts. If you want to participate and/or get more information, details, and schedule contact Jim - our Land Steward ()

 Thurston Vegetable Garden and Our Partners (Green Things and Trailsend Stable)

Even though there is still snow on the ground and suppose to snow more, I know spring will soon be here. Meaning, that once again and with the help of our partners at Green Things Farm (Jill and Nate) and Trailsend Stable (Tracy) we will be getting our Vegetable Garden ready for the students at Thurston Elementary School. This season we want to welcome our new “garden torchbearer” Deanna Lernihan Sakamoto. While “Mr. Frank” will still be around, he is very excited that “Ms. Deanna” has decided to join us, as she brings a lot more knowledge and experience to the program. A local resident and Thurston as well as Clague parent, Deanna will be collaborating with our partners, Thurston teachers, and PTO in making the garden an enjoyable and a hands-on experiential learning experience for the students. If you wish to participate and help Deanna feel free to contact her ()

The Hardworking Trees at Thurston

Kris Olsson’s article in the HRWC - Huron River Report - Fall 2014 edition, reminded me how fortunate we are to have our Mature Oak-Hickory Woodlot. This 5 acre site is the “most original” (oldest) ecosystem that we have at the TNC, yet often does not get the attention or recognition as other areas do. It has so many attributes as well as provides numerous benefits to our TNC. For example, we often talk about the pond being a “cleaner” of the neighborhood stormwater but the trees also play an important role -  “One tree can intercept 1,763 gallons of runoff water each year.”

Land Stewarts Mike Conboy and Jim Vallem will soon be establishing schedules for our yearly clearing of those nasty invasive and other activities to rescue our trees. If you are interested or have a group that wants to volunteer contact Frank ()


Restoration of OHAC and TNC Yorktown Entrance and Pond Access View Area

In collaboration and partnership with OHAC - - a Working Group is being established to restore and landscape the OHAC/Pond property (just west of the parking lot), and the main TNC Entrance on Yorktown. We are looking for volunteers with some prior experience, to help us design and construct an attractive and useful accessible site. If interested or would like more information contact Frank ()


! TNC Open Meetings each month - The Thurston Nature Center volunteers (TNCC) meet each month (subject to change due to usage conflicts of the school facility and weather schedules – check Facebook for possible changes)

o   The next 4 months the TNCC will meet at the Thurston Elementary School Library (7 to 9 PM) - March 5th, April 2nd, May 7th, and June 4th, 2015 

o   Reservations for special TNC Working Group Meetings (to be announced) have been made for – February 26th, March 19th, April 30th, and May 28th, 2015

o   After June we will be switching our location of meetings (to be determined)


! March 9th – March 15th, 2015 - National Wildlife Week – activities are currently being planned


! April 19th – April 25th, 2015- Celebration of Earth Week and National Environmental Education Week – a full week of daily events – TNC Working group currently being establish - to help organize various activities – details to follow

o   Earth Day = April 22nd

o   Arbor Day = April 24th

! April 25th & 26th, 2015 - TNC Stewardship and Work Days

! May 16th, 2015 - A 50 year - Celebratory – “Kiwanis & Thurston 5K” – a sponsored Run and Walk starting at Thurston Elementary School parking lot - going around Bromley, Orchard Hills, and Maplewood and ending at the Thurston Nature Center – Stapp Amphitheatre

For updates, more details and additional information  you can always check the Thurston Nature Center website at and Thurston Nature Center on Facebook at



Contact [email protected] and/or call Frank at (734-369- 0992)

Stay in touch + Get involved + Pass the word on + Create awareness