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February 2021


Botanical Quest: Documenting Michigan's Rare Native Flora Through Photography

This event has ended
Monday, February 15th, 2021
to (Eastern Time)

Botanical Quest: Documenting Michigan’s Rare Native Flora Through Photography
ZOOM Webinar by:
Craig Elston, Photographer - CDE Nature, Naturalist - City of Hudsonville, President of White Pine Chapter – Michigan Botanical Club, 2nd Vice President of Wildflower Association of Michigan

You must REGISTER in advance for this webinar, After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The program will highlight Craig’s quest for finding and photographing rare and not so common native plant species in Michigan. Plants from all corners of the state will be shown and he will be telling the stories of his adventures locating them—from the Southwest lower corner to the Western U.P. and back to the Eastern U.P. and down to the Southeast lower corner of the state and many areas in between. “If you are comfortable on your outings, you aren’t finding exciting plants.”

Biography - Craig Elston
As a Michigan native, Craig Elston has always been interested in nature from his youth on his grandparent’s farm through the present. He has also always been interested in growing plants and has had a great interest in native plants for most of his adult life. Craig has been leading interpretive hikes at the Hudsonville Nature Center since the mid 1990s. He has also led walks and presented lectures or slide programs at other nature centers, including Hoffmaster State Park’s Gillette Visitor Center, Frederik Meijer Gardens, the Michigan Botanical Club, various events for MSU County Extensions in West Michigan and other garden clubs or nature organizations. Craig has been a member of the Hudsonville Parks and Grounds committee since 1988 and the Naturalist for the City since 2001; he was involved in planting a tall grass prairie at the Nature Center. He has earned the Advanced Master Gardener from Ottawa County. In 2003 he was privileged to be a part of the Kent County MSU Extension’s Master Naturalist program from its inception, developing and writing the Prairie Environments segment with time both indoors and in the field for first hand personal experience. His interest for Michigan’s native flora is not just observation and photographing, but propagation and cultivation of these marvelous gems. Craig finds it exciting to not only learn about these habitats and their inhabitants, but also to share with others who are interested and willing to listen.Finding species that are new to him or rare isalways exciting. An interest in the native plant Jeffersonia diphylla has led to an almost obsession with Thomas Jefferson and Monticello.

March 2021


For the Birds: Fostering backyard habitats to attract birds

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Monday, March 15th, 2021
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For the Birds: Fostering Backyard Habitats to Attract Birds 
Live virtual presentation by Curtis Dykstra, Park Naturalist, Ottawa County Parks

This program aims to motivate the audience to maximize their yard’s potential as bird habitat by going beyond seeds in the feeder. How can we create an intentional habitat structure in our own gardens that will benefit/attract birds for viewing and to benefit the bird’s own needs? What unique birds could your yard attract depending on your location and habitat? 

Additionally, Curtis will describe the motivation behind and implementation of Hemlock Crossing’s Bird Watching Room and what opportunities Ottawa County Parks has for you to learn and enjoy birds even more!

Bio: Curtis Dykstra graduated from Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa with a degree in Environmental Studies in 1999. Since then, his experience as an educator and naturalist includes being a teacher, State Park Ranger in eastern North Carolina, and Assistant Director of Outdoor Education at Camp Roger in Rockford, MI. Since 2013, Curtis has served as a Parks Naturalist for Ottawa County. He is an avid birder and delights in sharing this passion with others. 


April 2021


Native Garden Design

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Monday, April 19th, 2021
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Native Garden Design
Presented by Landscape Designers:
–Amy Heilman, Owner, The Living Garden
–Rebecca Marquardt, Owner, Revery

Join Amy and Rebecca, both local landscape designers and architects, as they walk us through the process of incorporating native plant species into our gardens. Using the newly released Wild Ones booklet, Creating Your Own Native Garden Design, they will expand upon its contents by providing detailed discussions on the following topics:

Choosing plant species based on plant communities
Planting to attract birds and pollinators
Design considerations when developing new planting beds or enhancing existing ones

Viewers will also learn tips on where to get native plants, site prep, planting strategies and plant care as your gardens evolve.   

ZOOM Webinar • Registration required.



Rebecca Marquardt has over twenty years of experience as a landscape architect with an emphasis on ecological restoration. She has spent most of those years in the Great Lakes region. Growing up in and studying the oak savanna landscapes of Madison, Wisconsin and being surrounded by prominent influences of conservationist Aldo Leopold and pioneer native plant designer, Jens Jensen, provided an important foundation to the work she has been doing the last six years in Michigan. The complex and diverse plant communities found in West Michigan have required careful study and observation, which are essential in designing with native plants. Rebecca regularly provides instruction in sustainable landscape practices and her company, Revery, specializes in ecological landscape design and place-based education.

Amy Heilman has been designing and implementing gardens for 20 years and her business The Living Garden specializes in creating habitat gardens of function and beauty using native plant species. Her goal is to encourage home owners to take an active role in the planning and care of their gardens and to use these spaces to learn about the natural world and the web of life they can support.

To increase your enjoyment of our program, the Education Committee suggests you watch this new program series from National Wild Ones called Meet the Designers that debuted on March 9, 2021. Susan Hall of Toledo and Danielle Bell of Milwaukee present their tips and designs that are useful to gardeners of all skill levels. 

You may also enjoy a 10-page Native Garden Design guide for first-time native gardeners in any region in the country. This booklet dovetails with this month’s program. Download a print-friendly pdf version of this guide. 


May 2021


Garlic Mustard Pull at Aman Park

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Saturday, May 8th, 2021
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Join us to help control invasive Garlic Mustard at Aman Park.

Saturday, May 8 • 10am–2pm

Aman Park, O-1859 Lake Michigan Dr.
Grand Rapids, MI  49534

Park and meet in the Indian Trails Camp parking lot closest to the road at 10am. Look for the West MI Conservation event arrow signs. A short identification review and introduction will be held before we break into smaller groups.

Sponsored by Grand Rapids Parks and Friends of GR Parks.

Registration required.
To volunteer for this event, click here to register and fill out a volunteer form.

Gloves and bags will be provided. You may consider bringing your own pair of gloves, small trowel, wheelbarrow, sunscreen, a hat, bug spray and water.  All ages are welcome! There will be opportunities to work in small groups but you may feel comfortable wearing a mask.

Photo: Chris Evans, River to River CWMA,


Wildflower Walk at Odybrook Nature Sanctuary

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Saturday, May 15th, 2021
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 to a

Wildflower Walk at Odybrook Nature Sanctuary

13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319

with the Michigan Botanical Club

May 15 • 2–4 pm

Park at V&V Nursery across the road. A leader will meet the group there.


Cultivating our Schoolyards as Habitats to Grow Scholars Who Will Become Stewards

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Monday, May 17th, 2021
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Cultivating our Schoolyards as Habitats to Grow Scholars Who Will Become Stewards
Presented by Sally Triant, Grow Wise Learning

Children today are spending less time outdoors than ever before; while at the same time our diminishing wild spaces are calling to be protected and preserved. How can our young citizens be inspired to care for something they do not have a relationship with? The solution to creating the next generation of stewards may be hidden in plain sight in every schoolyard in our community. By developing schoolyard habitats and inviting them into the curriculum, educators can reconnect their classrooms to the natural world while allowing the local environment to serve as the foundation for meaningful learning. Additionally, schoolyards offer incredible opportunities for the community to work together to aid in the restoration of vital wildlife habitat while at the same time encouraging the next generation of environmentalists. This program aims to inform you of work being done to support local learning in our community and to encourage you to look to our schoolyards as wild spaces full of growth potential!

Registration required.


Sally Triant and her students


Sally Triant, environmental education consultant, founded Grow Wise Learning in 2014 to develop a seasonal curriculum for all ages and to serve as a resource within the community. Her education and experience span the Fine Arts and the Sciences bound by the common thread of teaching. With a certification in K–8 education with an emphasis on the sciences, and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, her passion to teach about the outdoors led her to place-based education. Her goal is to help individuals, educators, children, and especially families find their way back to the natural world; while in turn discovering more about themselves and their local environment by developing a keen seasonal awareness. She has learned that from the cultivated field, to the urban watershed, to the wilds of the forest, and everywhere in between—there is wonder, inspiration, fellowship, and especially wisdom to be found in the natural world.

June 2021


Farmer's Market Days - Native Plant Sale June 11

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Friday, June 11th, 2021
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Debra Montgomery, Go Grow Native Plants, LLC

Native Perennials - quart size $5 • gallon size $8
Shrubs - gallon size $10
Species List To Be Determined.

Wild Ones River City Chapter members will be handing out
native plant informational materials and answering questions.

More Farmer's Market Days coming in September!


Go Beyond Beauty - June Program

This event has ended
Monday, June 21st, 2021
to (Eastern Time)

Registration Required. Zoom Registration information to be announced.

Did you know that many of the plants that are most invasive in local natural areas originally arrived as ornamental garden plants? Join Shelly Stusick from the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN) to learn about the innovative program, “Go Beyond Beauty” which encourages the removal of high-priority invasive species from use and sale. She will also discuss invasive species resources for gardeners and the impending statewide expansion of “Go Beyond Beauty”. Q & A portion to follow.

BIO: Originally from Grand Rapids, MI, Shelly Stusick joined the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN) in 2020 as their Go Beyond Beauty Specialist. She has a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Management from Grand Valley State University and most recently has completed two terms with the Leelanau Conservancy as a Stewardship Technician through Huron Pines’ AmeriCorps program. Throughout that time, she has gardened for a local small business and is a MSU Extension Master Gardener trainee. In her free time, Shelly enjoys camping, rock hounding, watching Jeopardy, any time spent with dogs and, unsurprisingly, gardening.

July 2021


2021 Native Plant Sale

This event has ended
Wednesday, July 21st, 2021
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15 species of native perennials • 6 species of shrubs/trees

Books, Garden Signs, and Wild Ones Posters also for sale.

Pre-order and Pickup Only

Pay by Paypal/Credit Card/Check

Wild Ones members get advance ordering
June 23 through June 30. Join Wild Ones
Public Ordering July 1 through 14


Pickup Date: Wednesday, July 21
anytime between 5:30–7:30 pm
and BROWSE & BUY extra plants from our growers.
Pickup at the Fulton Street Farmer's Market

1145 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Use back entrance on Fountain Street

Thank you to all who supported Wild Ones River City with the sale!

Thank you to our growers:
Ken Hoganson, Big Bluestem Farm
Tammy Lundeen, She is Growing Wild
Debra Montgomery, Go Grow Native Plants, LLC
Vern Stephens, Designs by Nature, LLC
Joe Sulak, Designs By Nature - West, LLC


Walkabout July 28

This event has ended
Wednesday, July 28th, 2021
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Above photos by Barbara Zvirzdinis
WEDNESDAY, JULY 28 • 5–7:00 PM
Two WORC members that are neighbors:

Barbara Zvirzdinis' home - 4536 Abrigador Trail NE, Comstock Park, MI, 49321
Barbara Zvirzdinis lives on the Grand River and her garden beds are mostly wetland plants and shrubs. She is fairly new to native gardening and her beds range from 3 years–3 month’s old. Barbara's gardens are a work in process as she continues to remove non-natives and replace them with native alternatives.  

Rebecca Ling's home - 4576 Abrigador Trail NE, Comstock Park, MI, 49321
Rebecca Ling, one of the original founders of River City Wild Ones, has learned her flood plain gardening techniques the hard way—through repeated flooding, on-site research, and experimentation over the past 28 years. Experience her beautiful native/non-native, but flood zone hardy gardens. Bring bug spray and/or a hat with a veil and enjoy the beauty. 

Above photos by Rebecca Ling

August 2021


Walkabout at Calvin Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens

This event has ended
Wednesday, August 4th, 2021
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Calvin Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens

1750 E Beltline Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Created in 2018 to showcase the beauty and diversity of native plants, this botanical garden is a living field guide containing more than 200 species of plants found in Michigan. Over 20 mini gardens feature a variety of planting styles. They draw inspiration from both natural landscapes as well as familiar gardening styles such as cottage, pollinator, and shade gardens. Preserve staff, Jeanette and Dena, will be onsite to answer questions and share tips and tricks for growing native plants. The glasshouse will also be open to purchase native plants.



Invasive Species Action: Best Practices to Protect Michigan's Native Flora and Fauna from Intruders

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Monday, August 16th, 2021
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Invasive Species Action: Best Practices to Protect Michigan’s Native Flora & Fauna from Intruders
Presented by Jessie Schulte, District Manager, Kent Conservation District

Location: Greenwood Cemetery1401 Leonard NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

(Greenwood is the cemetery on the North side of Leonard and Mt Calvary Cemetery is on the South side.)

Use the entrance on Leonard Street, but the Greenwood Cemetery sign is past the entrance.  There is a yellow brick building as you enter off Leonard Street with the address.

Look for the Wild Ones arrow signs.

Please travel to the very back of the Cemetery (Look for the large building and parking lot where the park staff maintain their tractors and two dumpsters are located.)

Parking is limited, please carpool if possible.

GPS coordinates:  42°59'26.1"N 85°42'25.9"W

Please exit on Bristol St. when you leave the cemetery.

Welcome back to meeting and learning together in person once again! Join one of Kent County’s knowledgeable invasive species control experts and walk around Greenwood Cemetery to see examples of invasive plants. Information on how invasive plant species affect native plants, birds and wildlife will be provided. Participants will learn how to recognize different invasive plant species in the field, as well as how to report their sightings to the region’s mapping and identification system called MISIN. Various different treatment methods for invasive plant species control will be discussed. Schulte will provide a list of invasive species that will be identified, including Jetbead and Chocolate vine.

Long pants, closed-toe walking shoes, and insect repellant recommended.

Jetbead (Rhodotypos scandens) Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

Jetbead fruit Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

Chocolate Vine Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University,

Chocolate Vine fruit Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

BIO: Jessie Schulte has been the Kent Conservation District Manager since 2016. She spent her first five years in Kent County working as the Land Manager and Volunteer Coordinator at Blandford Nature Center. Jessie has a BS in Resource Ecology from U of M-Flint's Earth Science Department. She has over 20 years of conservation experience gained from working all over the US from City Public Works to three National Parks. Jessie is passionate about invasive species education and control. She truly enjoys helping Kent County residents figure out ways to help land and looks forward to collaborating with you.
Banner photo: Leslie J. Mehrhoff,
University of Connecticut,


During the lead-up time to this remarkable program, the Education Committee thought you might enjoy viewing this pocket-sized, spiral-bound booklet called A Field ID Guide to Invasive Plants in Michigan’s Natural Communities issued by MSU Extension and MNFI (Michigan Natural Features Inventory). This compact field guide of 119 pages reviews Michigan’s invasive trees, shrubs, and woody vines with excellent color plates and can be viewed free online here. The Field Guides will be available for purchase at the August 16 event for $16. Cash or check only.

And don’t miss this newly updated 4-page color brochure from MIPN (Midwest Invasive Plant Network) called Landscape Alternatives for Invasive Trees, Shrubs, and Vines of the Great Lakes Region. You can view or download it free here. Learn why it’s so important to be wise and responsible consumers of plants for our outdoor spaces. We will have these beautiful and helpful brochures to distribute free-of-charge to attendees of our August 16 program.

October 2021


Soil - The Hidden Secrets Beneath Your Feet

This event has ended
Monday, October 18th, 2021
to (Eastern Time)
Bunker Interpretive Center, Calvin University, 1750 East Beltline Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49546 Map

Public Welcome Free Event Chapter Meeting Program/Speaker Presentation

Soil - The Hidden Secrets Beneath Your Feet PRESENTED BY: Gerald “Jerry” Miller, Certified Professional Soil Scientist LOCATION: Bunker Interpretive Center, Calvin University, 1750 East Beltline Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 NOTE: In the interest of keeping everyone safe, masks are required indoors for all attendees to protect yourself and others. Masks are optional outdoors.  The National Wild Ones now requires that each chapter have attendees (regardless of vaccination status) sign a Covid-19 Attestation and Release Form at Wild Ones events. There will be a table to sign the form before entering the Community Room. If you would like to read the form beforehand, view it here. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION The presentation will provide an overview of the three components of a soil—physical, chemical and biological —and their functions in plant growth and development. An orientation will be provided to web-based resources about soil information for the different kind of soil on your property. The presentation will provide Wild Ones members and guests with an awareness and increased understanding and identification of basic soil properties. Recognizing soil characteristics and their associated properties will assist participants in applying appropriate management practices for healthy and productive soils. SPEAKER BIOGRAPHY:  Gerald Miller, Ph.D., CPSS (Certified Professional Soil Scientist), has served as an elected director on the Kent Conservation District Board since 2014. He currently serves as the board chair. In 2019 he was elected for a two-year term as President, Michigan Association of Conservation Districts, following two terms as the association Vice-President. Dr. Miller retired from Iowa State University in 2011 where he served as a Professor of Agronomy from 1974 until his retirement. In 1998 he was selected as an associate dean and he served 13 years in college and university administration. During his academic career he conducted applied research in soil and water conservation, watershed management and soil productivity and interpretation.  He is a member of several professional societies including the American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America and the Soil and Water Conservation Society. He is the current Director, Region 3, Michigan Chapter, Soil and Water Conservation Society. Dr. Miller was raised on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley, VA and earned his B.S. degree from Virginia Tech followed by an M.S. and Ph.D. at Iowa State University. He served 32 months on active duty as a commissioned officer, U.S. Army. Following 33 years’ total military service he retired from the U.S. Army and Army National Guard in 1998 with the permanent rank of Major General.  He is a member of Rotary International. He resides in Cascade Township, Kent County.   OCTOBER PROGRAM ENHANCEMENTS The Education Committee thought you might find these MSU Smart Gardening resources on soil worthwhile either before or after our October program: Composting: A Smart Gardening Practice to Recycle Garden & Yard Waste pdf Don’t Guess, Soil Test pdf               MSU Smart Gardening: Soil Tests (4 minute video 07/10/14) What is Soil (and Why is it Important)?: Crash Course Geography #17 (10 minute video 06/15/21)  

November 2021


The Science and Art of Propagating Native Plants

This event has ended
Monday, November 15th, 2021
to (Eastern Time)
Bunker Interpretive Center, Calvin University, 1750 East Beltline Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49546 Map

Public Welcome Free Event Chapter Meeting Program/Speaker Presentation

Monday, November 15 • 6:30-8:30 pm Bunker Interpretive Center at Calvin University 1750 East Beltline Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 NOTE: In the interest of keeping everyone safe, masks are required indoors for all attendees to protect yourself and others. The National Wild Ones now requires that each chapter have attendees (regardless of vaccination status) sign a Covid-19 Attestation and Release Form at Wild Ones events. Please sign the form in the foyer before entering the room. If you would like to read the form beforehand, view it here. Plant propagation is both a science and an art. The science of plant propagation requires a knowledge of plant physiology, nursery cultural practices, and characteristics of the particular plant that you want to grow. The art of plant propagation consists of specific technical skills that are acquired through innate ability or experience. It requires a certain “feel.” Learn both the science and art through this hands-on presentation. Discover how and when to collect, process and store native plant seeds, germination techniques, and which plants work best using vegetative propagation. Learn tips and tricks you can use to grow your own seedlings and cuttings to support native plant reproduction and survival. Jeanette Henderson Speaker Biography: Jeanette M. Henderson is the Program Manager, directing the educational programs, communications and marketing, and native plant propagation program for the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens on the campus of Calvin University. She oversees the day to day management of the Bunker Interpretive Center and the production greenhouse. A large percentage of her job is mentoring and training Calvin students in the fields of environmental education, interpretation, and native plant production. To keep things exciting she oversees the Preserve’s long term monitoring of Eastern Box turtle populations and fungal inventories. Jeanette's previous professional experience includes coordinating programs and events for Michigan Audubon, as a summer naturalist at several of Michigan State Parks, and as a marine educator for the University of Georgia's Marine Education Center and Aquarium in Savannah, Georgia. She holds a BS in Biology from Calvin University and will complete a Masters in Community Based Education and Leadership from Stevenson University in December 2021. Her current research project focuses on the implementation of the NatureRx@Calvin initiative on the university campus.