Kiwanis Environmental Education Preserve (KEEP)
When the 17 acre property called The Kiwanis Center was purchased in 2014, the focus was on the 123,000 square foot building to be used to house the Kiwanis Thrift Sale and the new sources of income to be received by rental of space beyond that which Kiwanis would need. The overgrown and neglected 7.6 acres of wet woodlands that spanned the eastern portion of the property was a tag along, with no positive value in the eyes of the seller. However, from the beginning it was apparent to a group of Kiwanians that the wooded area would be ideal for a Kiwanis Environmental Education Preserve (KEEP). Kiwanis Club member, Dan Dever promoted the idea, chaired an approved KEEP committee and explored ways to involve a broad range of community organizations in developing the KEEP as a community resource.
In 2016, KEEP committee members blazed trails through the KEEP around natural features and along existing ponds. In 2017 a like-minded, generous Kiwanis member donated funds allowing the committee to hire a landscape architect to design a Master Plan for a layout of trails and facilities for environmental education programs. In October 2018, the Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors approved the KEEP concept, which was then submitted to the Kiwanis Foundation membership for approval as a multi-year project, which was required according to the Foundation bylaws. In November 2018, the general membership voted to approve the KEEP as an ongoing multi-year project.
Since that time, planning has continued and affiliations with other environmental and education groups and entities have been sought and cemented. Studies have been conducted by Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, and University of Michigan undergraduate and graduate programs of the existing habitats, of plant and animal life present, and of stormwater management.