Kiwanis Environmental Education Preserve (KEEP)

History :

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 forested 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.

KEEP Goals: (as of January 2020)

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Establish the Kiwanis Environmental Education Preserve (KEEP) as a regional resource and real-life learning laboratory for environmental education in cooperation with schools, conservation groups and public and private entities to promote environmental awareness. The KEEP is located in a commercial area that offers opportunities to conserve natural resources, restore natural habitats and demonstrate the effects of both good and bad environmental practices.
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Cooperate with a broad range of organizations to combine efforts and share information.
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Design a hands-on display of geologic specimens illustrating Michigan’s glacial history.
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Cooperate with educators, environmental scientists, geologists, and other experts to design educational activities and interpretive materials for the KEEP.
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Provide a facility for organizations to meet, share information and maximize resources to achieve common objectives concerning environmental issues and education.

Objectives :

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Implement a comprehensive concept and master plan developed with the assistance of local environmental architects that incorporates loop trails, important natural features including two ponds flowing into Honey Creek, savannah oaks in a closed-in forest, and plant and wildlife habitat.
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Design educational activities and opportunities for demonstration and research projects. Develop a conservation/ecological restoration plan, evaluate and design innovative approaches to environmental education, and demonstrate environmentally responsible uses of KEEP resources
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Develop criteria to monitor wildlife communities, criteria for scientific study and research, and criteria for hands-on activities for visitors including K-12 students.
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Impact and Opportunities

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The project takes on the challenge of reclaiming natural habitats situated in a light industrial and farming area no longer used for manufacturing or agricultural purposes. The property is similar to other older facilities where the physical nature of the land has been adversely affected by development without awareness of or sensitivity to environmental impacts. The KEEP project is intended to serve as a model that can be replicated in similar areas.
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Developing the KEEP offers interdisciplinary opportunities to integrate knowledge and skills:
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Improve walking trails through the KEEP; sample pond water and sediment to identify pond life; identify and monitor wildlife and plant species; assist in planning bridges, walkways, and viewing areas throughout the KEEP; apply critical thinking skills to issues involved in creating a sustainable environmental preserve in an area of high volume traffic, air polluting fumes, vibration and noise; and propose hands-on educational activities to teach environmental awareness, sound environmental practices, and long term sustainability.

keep contacts :

Dana A. Dever – dad@ddwmlaw.com
Margaret J. Krasnoff – mjk@ddwmlaw.com

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