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Ottawa County Parks & Recreation

Nature Education Center

We are updating our facility reservation system! We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are unable to take reservations for events in 2019 until after our new system is live. Please note that pricing may change for facilities. You are still able to reserve a facility for dates in 2018. Please call the Parks Administrative Office with questions: 616-738-4810. If you would like to receive an email when we are able to accept 2019 reservations, click here.

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8115 West Olive Road, West Olive, 49460
(616) 786-4847
naturecenter@miottawa.org

Hours
Tuesday - Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: Noon-5pm
Closed Mondays

Directions
From US 31, travel west on Croswell Street to West Olive Road. Turn south on West Olive Road and travel a 1/2 mile to the entrance on the west side.

NEW! Register for Programs, Field Trips & Camps Online!

The Nature Education Center , located within Hemlock Crossing Park, has exhibits, a wildlife den with critters and activities, a wildlife viewing area where you can watch birds and animals at the feeders, and a gift shop. The center also hosts a variety of educational programs for schools, special groups and the public.

Man Snow Shoeing
 
Class Program

Reserving the Nature Education Center

Please call the Nature Education Center at (616) 786-4847 schedule a visit, inquire about availability and make your reservation. This packet provides critical information you should know before you rent, plus helpful considerations while planning your event. To rent other facilities within the parks, please visit Rental Facilities.

School Programs

Looking for a memorable, educational outdoor experience for your pre-k through high-school students? Look no further than the Nature Education Center. Our school programs enhance your students’ learning with experiences which cannot be duplicated in a classroom. The educational field-trips are designed to meet your students at the appropriate cognitive level and can even be adapted to incorporate the subject matter you are currently studying. Year-round programs are available. If distance is an issue, there is bound to be a park near you where we can accommodate your class. Contact us today.

Field Trips

Grand Lady Riverboat Trip

Kids on the Grand Lady Riverboat Trip We are now accepting applications from teachers for the 2018 Grand Lady Riverboat trip for fifth grade students. The trip is on Tuesday, May 15 from 9:30am to 12:30pm. We’ll launch from the Grand Lady Riverboat Dock in Jenison.

The trip will compare ecosystems along the Grand River, both from the deck of a historic paddleboat and by foot at Grand River Park in Jenison. Throughout the trip we’ll explore: upland forest, floodplain forest, native prairie, and the Grand River watershed. Our naturalist guides will provide an experience that can’t be duplicated in the classroom and meets Michigan Science Standards:

  • 5-LS2-1: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
  • 5-PS3-1: Use models to describe that energy in animals’ food was once energy from the sun.
  • 5-ESS3-1: Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

Interested teachers should apply online here.

Cost is $5 per student, but minimum charges will apply (see below). We are working to combine several classrooms so meeting the minimum may not be necessary. The cost of the boat rental fee is covered in part by the Friends of Ottawa County Parks, a local 501(C)(3).

  • 1-20 kids - $60 minimum
  • 21-40 kids - $120 minimum
  • 41-60 kids - $180 minimum
  • 61-80 kids - $240 minimum
  • 81-100 kids - $300 minimum
Program Locations

Grand Lady Riverboat Dock: 825 Taylor Street, Jenison, MI 49428
More info about Grand Lady Riverboat Tours: http://www.grandlady.info/

Grand River Park: 9473 28th Avenue, Jenison, MI 49428
More info about Grand River Park: https://www.miottawa.org/Parks/grandriver.htm

Snowshoeing

Hemlock Crossing offers snowshoe rentals for adults and children (4+) at the Nature Education Center. Guided walks are available throughout the winter; take a look at our program calendar for dates. Visitors are invited to warm up in front of a fire in the Great Room after their snowy outing! Contact the Nature Education Center at the phone number above to inquire about  a group or school outing.