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Asylum Lake service project leaves no child inside

by Jeanne Baron

June 6, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of WMU's Cari DeLong leading children at Asylum Lake Preserve.
Cari DeLong (left) leads children during Springtime Adventure.
KALAMAZOO--About 150 youngsters from the Kalamazoo and Mattawan (Mich.) public schools and Kalamazoo's Montessori School took part in an educational cooperative service project at the Asylum Lake Preserve May 3.

The Springtime Adventure project had them removing the invasive garlic mustard plant and helping with water ecology efforts at the preserve, one of Western Michigan University's three natural areas.

It also allowed the youngsters, mostly third graders, to do some interactive journaling and participate in leadership activities. In addition, they had a chance to meet Buster Bronco, WMU's mascot.

The project is part of the Outside in Our Schoolyard program, which evolved from the 2009 Kalamazoo No Child Left Inside Community Initiative that resulted in local leaders developing a community action plan aimed at getting kids back outside and reconnected to nature.

WMU's hosting of the Asylum Lake Springtime Adventure was led by Cari DeLong, natural areas manager. Assisting with the event were several volunteers from the University and Kalamazoo Nature Center, parents, and community members.

This year's Outside in Our Schoolyard program is partially funded by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation with support from the Kalamazoo Nature Center, WMU and private donations. Through the program, students have the opportunity to meet and get to know kids from other schools by participating in a series of field trips to the nature center, Asylum preserve and each others' schools.