Nature Education Center Capital Campaign
Chippewa Nature Center

CNC to Build Nature Education Center

Building Nature Connections for the Youth of Today and Tomorrow



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Since it was first established in 1966, Chippewa Nature Center (CNC) has seen tremendous growth. Nature Day Camp (NDC), Nature Preschool and school programs are among its most impactful programs on youth and their families throughout the region. To meet existing and growing demand for these programs, CNC plans to build the Nature Education Center (NEC). The NEC will primarily serve as the home for these youth-based programs. Groundbreaking for the Nature Education Center will take place in 2024, with completion in 2025.


Children and counselor hold up turtles at Nature Day Camp
Nature Day Camp
Nature Preschool teacher and students smiling, gathered in a circle in winter
Nature Preschool
Students and teachers gathered at a picnic table studying aquatic animals
School Programs


Located near the Visitor Center and existing Nature Preschool building, the Nature Education Center will consist of multi-purpose indoor program space, two Nature Preschool classrooms, office space, a meeting room, accessible restrooms and food prep areas, an outdoor covered area for school and camp programs and lunches for up to 150 people, nature play areas and access to nearby trails and ponds.

Nature Day Camp, Nature Preschool and school programs have outgrown their current space, and a new program building will play a critical role in growing CNC’s service to the community. This building will grow the capacity to serve youth in each of these programs, while maintaining the high quality programming. The new facility will enhance opportunities for positive nature connections for youth throughout the region for years to come.

Nature Preschool entranceNature Preschool Entrance

As of August 2023, CNC has raised more than $4.2 million toward the $5.2 million project, with support from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, The Charles J. Strosacker Foundation and individual donors, as well as funding provided by CNC. “The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation has been a partner and supporter of CNC and its programs since its inception in 1966,” notes Ruth Alden Doan, president and trustee. “We are proud to support the Nature Education Center project, which will greatly contribute to the quality of life in the Great Lakes Bay Region.” Dennis Pilaske, CNC executive director adds, “CNC’s first parcels of land were donated by The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. Dorothy Dow Arbury (daughter of Herbert and Grace) was instrumental in securing that land, and provided incredible leadership as an original board member.”

“CNC is committed to meeting the needs of the community while pursuing its mission to connect all people to nature through educational, recreational and cultural experiences, which is critical to the health and wellbeing of our community,” Dennis Pilaske, CNC's Executive Director, shares. “We are thrilled to provide this new resource to connect even more people to nature.”

Covered Courtyard
Covered Courtyard


Ways to Give

Nature Education Center main entrance
Nature Education Center Main Entrance

  1. Online - See giving level options
  2. By mail by check or credit card - Mail to: Chippewa Nature Center, 400 S Badour Rd, Midland, MI  48640
  3. In person at CNC's Visitor Center at 400 S Badour Rd, Midland - Hours: Mon-Sat, 8 am-5 pm and Sun and select holidays, 12-5 pm
  4. Stocks and bonds, donor-advised fund - Contact Dennis Pilaske, Executive Director, by email or 989.631.0830 for more details

Please visit your Human Resources department to inquire about matching gift opportunities.


Please join us in
Building Nature Connections for the Youth of Today and Tomorrow!




The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation
Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation
The Charles J. Strosacker Foundation
The Harry A. & Margaret D. Towsley Foundation

   In memory of Lois J Jones
Arbury Insurance Agency
Roger Bohl
Wendell & Marcia Dilling
Darrell Eagle
Eileen Finzel
Dr. Arthur & Judith Frock
Kathryn Hamilton & Steve Wang
Susan Hoshaw
Howard L. and Kathleen E. Garrett
   Donor-advised Endowment Fund
Jim Malek
Barbara McGivern
Marianne & Fred McKelvy
Mark S. and Mildred P. Putnam
   Donor-advised Endowment Fund
Dennis & Michelle Pilaske & Family
Donna & Andy Rapp
Walter & Joanne Rupprecht
Jonathan Truitt & Tessa Peterson
Larry & Karen Sherwood
David & Jane Wirth

Debbie Anderson & Elan Lipschitz
   In memory of Patrick Dahlin
Melissa Barnard & Rick White
Barbara Barnes & Bill Krueger
Sarah & Jeff Bates
Mark Becker
Matt & Sue Berghoff
Anne Marie Birkham
Matt & Deb Bishop
Kathleen Biskupski
Ruth Blair
   In memory of Etcyl H Blair
Leroy Bliven

Jennifer Bridges
Terrence & Barbara Brown

Richard & Karen Burrow
Angela & Gary Buske

Eric Carlson
Erlene Carmody

Ron Chmielewski & Mary Jane McIntee
Ken & Marilyn Craven
Judy & Rick Dalbey
   In memory of Carol Busick
Tiffany Daniels
Richard W Danville
John & Nancy Davis
Jeannie Dellar
Nancy Dunn
Karen & Mike Durisin
Kagey & Paul Duso
Tad & June Eastman
Jim & Fran Falender
Michael & Sherilyn Farris
Friends & Family of Melvin Garrett
   In memory of Melvin Garrett
Doug & Pam Gandy
Gap, Inc
Peggy Gilstad
   In memory of Tom Gilstad & Marvin Fox
Gary Gruber
   In memory of Karen Gruber
William J Hargeaves
Ryan, Jamie & Gavin Hockstra
Caroline Holland
Adrienne M. Jezewski
Gunnar & Marylin Johanson  
Ruth Jones
Millard & Mary Lou Kent
Steve Kin
Rod & Ruth Kitzmiller
Verna Kochanny
Randy Kursinsky
Kristy Labadie

Tyler Lemieux
Elizabeth & Keith Lumbert
Pat Marsh
Mark McCartney
Chris & Clark McCreedy
Martin McGuire
Anne Messinger
Raquel Miquel
Ken & Connie Moorhead
   In memory of Howard L & Lois E. Rice
Earl & Sharon Morris
Anja Mueller
Robert Nash
Suzanne & Andy Osterbrock
Ruth & Beacher Pearce
Chris & Nancy Peeler
John & Joyce Petro
Marjorie Phillips
Michael Rabideau
Terry & Debra Riedlinger
Ross Family
Carolyn L Sandford
William & Bethany Schmidt
Karen Skorup
Harold & Vicki Smith
Ron & Judy Suderman
Richard Swenson & Donna Anderson
Deb & Terry Temperly
Alan Terrill
John & Kim Tilmann
Dick & Jeanne Touvell
   In memory of Mary Leigh (Sharp) Touvell
Paul & Suzanne VanSickle
Bruce & Joan Vaydik
   In honor of Wesson Evans
Dennis & Kathy Wolf
Fielding Yost
Gregg & Marilyn Zank


LineNature Education Center covered courtyard
Nature Education Center Covered Courtyard

Will CNC serve more youth with this new program building?
Yes! In the coming years, the new building will enable us to serve additional youth through Nature Day Camp, school programs and early childhood programs.

Where will this new building be located?
The new building will be located near the beginning of the Homestead Road. This location creates a campus-like feel with the Visitor Center, Nature Preschool building and other facilities, and easy access for program participants.

When will you break ground?
We expect to break ground in spring 2024.

Will summer 2024 Nature Day Camp be impacted?
While there may be days we have to adjust traffic flow or close specific areas for safety reasons, we expect all of CNC’s programs to continue without interruption throughout construction. Nature Day Camp will continue to run out of the Visitor Center until the completion of this project.

When will the building be open for programming?
We anticipate completion of the project in early 2025, with Nature Day Camp being the first program to use the space.

What will happen to the existing Nature Preschool building?
The Margaret Ann (Ranny) Riecker Nature Preschool Center will continue to welcome preschoolers. The new education building will serve an existing preschool class and allow for future expansion.

Nature Education Center Nature Preschool entrance
Nature Preschool Entrance


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