The Outdoor Discovery Center Nature Preserve makes connecting people with nature and wildlife its business. Located at the corner of 56th and 142nd south of Holland, the non-profit is home to nature trails, elk, birds of prey, nature exhibits, wetlands, streams, woodlands, and even a pre-school. They offer many diverse programs such as snowshoeing, archery, fishing, pond studies, and summer camps that help foster the concepts of wildlife management and conservation. Our supervisor Hattie has led an HYC team all summer to help maintain and improve the natural environment, cause there's never enough helping hands on the 150-acre preserve. They helped rebuild an educational sandbox, help beautify and add structure to a stream on the property, have maintained gravel trails, and removing invasive species and weeds from the property. "These kids are superheroes!" says Hattie, "I'm amazed at the work they do everyday."
When Ottawa County Parks inherited Paw Paw Park, located on Paw Paw Drive, across from Macatawa Greenspace, they knew there was a lot of work to be done. "The existing park just hadn't been used much, and wasn't up to our standards," said Melanie Manion, Ottawa County Parks Natural Resources Management Supervisor. The two-year improvement plant will cost $125,000 and feature mostly trail improvements and signage to open up the area for people to get outdoors and be more physically active.
Fortunately, they landed two great teams through Holland Youth Connections to aid in the grunt work. Mario Landin and Nicole Hoshor supervise ten kids who have spent the past weeks removing the invasive species Garlic Mustard, as well as Honeysuckle, Buckthorn, and other harmful invasive plants that threaten to take over the native species growing in the park. "We work hard in the heat or rain to get the job so we can be proud to say, 'Yes, that's our work!' in the end," says Mario Landin, HYC Supervisor. In the process, the team has made friends with each other and with Ottawa County Park Employees who help direct their work. Developing a family within the work teams has been a really cool part of the program for everyone involved. This team is doing great work to make their corner of Holland a better place for everyone!
Ken Wells leads a star-studded cast of young people helping the City of Holland Transportation Department this summer. Whether you notice it or not, the maintenance of city signage, roadways, and city-owned vehicles is overseen by the Holland Transportation Department. Ken's team helps by washing vehicles, clearing alleyways and parks throughout the city, keeping the garage clean, and doing landscaping work around the headquarters. Who are the honorable ones who comprise this team? Autumn Lochridge. Kayonia Wilburn. Manny Bueno. Matthew Ackavong. Marvin Teran. Here's a firsthand testimonial from Ken's team last week:
"Yesterday as we were cleaning an alleyway near Maple & 17th, when of my team took it upon themselves and began to remove the old vines that had overgrown a wooden fence belonging to an elderly Hispanic woman. The woman was overcome with joy and gratitude, so much so that she offered the team water and refreshments. She said the vine had been there for years (thanks to Matthew for interpreting her Spanish!). The kids were hyped because they had the opportunity to help out not only the community but someone with a present need!"
As Holland BPW makes way for its new comprehensive power plant facility near E. 6th St., Richard's team is clearing trash from what had been neglected property, making way for a nature trail system, a hoop house, and other "green" initiatives that are a part of the project's long-term plan. See more as the summer goes on on the team's Facebook page!