Friday, September 10, 2010

New Kettunen Center outdoor features include disc golf

Michigan’s 4-H volunteer training and conference facility, Kettunen Center, now offers disc golf as a new outdoor recreational activity for guests.

Disc golf is played like traditional golf but instead of using a golf ball and golf clubs, players use a flying disc and try to toss it into a basket. As in traditional golf, there is a par for each hole.

Kettunen Center’s disc golf course is in a forested area along the Red Fox Trails. The course – complete with disc golf baskets, cement tee pads and tee signs – is an environmentally friendly course built around existing trees and trails. The course was designed by Seth Hopkins, Lake County MSU Extension 4-H educator, and installed by Kettunen Center staff members.

“It is a nine-hole beginner course to be used for educational purposes and as a pasttime at workshops and other conferences,” Hopkins said. “I helped set up the par and design the actual course. We limited cutting to anything 3 inches and under, and most of the course is on trails that were already there.”

Hopkins also is involved with a disc golf 4-H club in Lake County. The club has eight members and meets two days per week for skill drills and has a league night.

“We have club trips planned to Kettunen Center,” Hopkins said. “The goal is to get the kids out to different courses. We also hope to have youth participate in the [disc golf] state finals.”

Kettunen Center’s disc golf course was supported by an MSU Extension 4-H Participation Fee Grant. The grant also provided funding for a disc golf course at Baldwin schools, new 4-H club development in Lake County, the use of the Educational Disc Golf Experience (EDGE) curriculum, the purchase of a variety of official disc golf discs, and future train-the-trainer workshops at Kettunen Center.

Additional outdoor enhancements at Kettunen Center include:
  • The Butterfly Garden, located in the Kettunen Center arboretum, with a new solar-powered bird bath fountain. The garden, created last summer by the Tustin Explorers 4-H Club and several Cadillac-area home-school families, models native plants that attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds. The fountain serves as both a bird bath and as a water source for pollinators.
  • The MAX (Mobile Adventure Experience), a 32-foot-tall climbing wall, which arrived last spring at Kettunen Center. The wall provides both physical and mental challenges and serves as a team-building activity that can be built into both youth and adult conferences at the center.
  • New landscaping. Four MSU Extension Master Gardener students spruced up the outdoor garden landscapes at Kettunen Center. The students, along with Jenny Gray, Wexford County Master Gardener and Susan Alexander, Master Gardener and owner of In Harmony of Gardening by Design, volunteered their time and resources providing new garden design ideas, selecting plants and supplying mulch and other materials at a discounted rate.
  • A quilt trail block. Kettunen Center is now a part of the Osceola County Quilt Trail. A quilt trail is a route containing a number of wooden blocks that are painted to resemble quilt squares and then mounted to host structures. Together they form a self-guided tour. The exterior of Red Oak Hall boasts a Rising Star 4-H quilt pattern, which honors all the 4-H rising talents. The quilt was designed in collaboration with the Osceola County Quilt Trail. The block was funded by a grant from the West Michigan Quilters’ Guild. Currently there are 13 quilt blocks in Osceola County, including the one at Kettunen Center.
  • Two new kiosk panels featuring Kettunen Center Nature Trails and Living Green on the outdoor kiosk located beside the sidewalk between the White Pine Lodge and the Mawby Learning Center. The kiosk was sponsored by gifts in memory of Margaret and Francis Grix in 2003. The Nature Trails panel features the 3½ miles of marked nature trails and includes professional photographs of wildlife species donated by local artist Charles St. Charles, of Hoxeyville, Mich. The Living Green kiosk panel outlines Kettunen Center’s commitment to “green” practices, programs and environmental monitoring, and offers guests tips for conserving natural resources. It also recognizes Kettunen Center’s steward level of certification from the Green Lodging Michigan Program, sponsored by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.
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Originally published in the Fall 2010 issue of Vantage.

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