Friday, January 28, 2011

Connecting Preschool and Head Start Children to the Outdoors

Kettunen Center received a Great Parents Great Start grant in 2009 and again in 2010 that launched a series of innovative and exciting workshops, programs and partnerships for getting local kids ages 3-5 and their parents outdoors learning about nature. Project WILD’s Growing Up WILD and Project Learning Tree’s Early Learner educator workshops were held this fall and winter. Kettunen Center staff along with local preschool and Head Start teachers from Tustin, Leroy, Luther, Marion and Mesick attended the workshops and received two activity guides filled with age-appropriate, researched based lessons for use in the classroom and Kettunen Center outdoor programs.

In December, the Kettunen Center staff visited all the schools to set up bird feeding stations and involve the children in hands-on activities such as Habitat Hunt and Who Am I? This year, multiple one-day field trips are scheduled at Kettunen Center for the children to experience the outdoors all four seasons.

The workshops and field trips were funded by the Early Read First Program of Wexford Missaukee Intermediate School District and the Osceola County Community Foundation. The Pine River Chapter of Audubon also had an interest in early learners, and donated the book, Wild About Michigan Birds by Adele Porter, for each classroom and Wild Birds Unlimited of Traverse City provided discounts for bird feeders & seed. Andrea Grix, Kettunen Center Education Program Coordinator, is hopeful the success of these programs will lead to additional grants to expand the program.

Kettunen Center appreciates all the funding and donations in support of 171 local preschool children and their parents for the purpose of learning and connecting with the outdoors!

December is a Time to Give

This past year, Kettunen Center has been fortunate to have Bob Patterson, from Patterson's Flowers volunteer as a decorations consultant. Bob has worked with the 4-H Foundation and Kettunen Center staff to plan and refine our seasonal decorations with a theme of "natural yet elegant". He has volunteered at Breakfast with Santa since it began 29 years ago. Bob has served as a Michigan 4-H Foundation trustee and as a 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp co-director.

Bob's parents started Patterson's Flowers in 1952 and he has been working full time at the shops since 1979. They have stores in Reed City, Big Rapids and Cadillac. These photos show some of the arrangements Bob has donated to Kettunen Center.

Bob was born and raised in Reed City and has lived in the Osceola/Mecosta county area his entire life. The flower business has many "peaks and valleys" – the holiday seasons are very busy. The months of February, April, May and December are peak months in the floral industry.

Bob's favorite decorating tip? "Don't under estimate the amount of lights it takes to decorate your Christmas tree. Plan on at least 100 lights per foot of your tree height," he says.
Thank you Bob for all your dedication and support of Kettunen Center.

If you are interested in volunteering your talents at Kettunen Center, please contact Andrea Grix. For information about donating to Kettunen Center, visit

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Kettunen Center had its 29th annual Breakfast with Santa Sat., Dec. 11, 2010. It is a one of a kind community-oriented event. We had over 750 people in just a little over 3 hours; 393 of them being children ranging from newborn to 14 years. The children were able eat breakfast, listen to storytelling, make a postcard stamp, do a craft, get their face painted, and most importantly talk with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Children also learned – thanks to Ms. Claus – Santa’s favorite cookie. Each child received a gift bag with age-appropriate books and toys.

Breakfast with Santa is not just about the toy, it is about memories. Some families have been coming since the beginning, and some bring new additions – infants only a week or a couple months old – to share in the memories and traditions they create at Kettunen Center. It is a day filled with fun, excitement, joy, and sometimes even a little shyness.

Kettunen Center’s Breakfast with Santa could not be possible if it wasn’t for our many generous donors from local businesses and all of our adult and teen volunteers. Another successful “BWS” in the books! Kettunen Center’s 30th annual Breakfast with Santa is scheduled for Saturday, December 10, 2011. See you then!