Friday, August 17, 2012

New Rain Garden beautifies and manages water runoff

The Harwood Learning Landscape Arboretum & Wildflower Trail at Kettunen Center has a new theme garden to manage rain water runoff.
The Harwood Learning Landscape Arboretum and Wildflower Trail at Kettunen Center has a new theme garden to manage rain water runoff.
The Harwood Learning Landscape Arboretum and Wildflower Trail at Kettunen Center has a new theme garden to manage rain water runoff.

MSU Extension master gardener volunteers, Maggie Swiriduk, Pat Marlow, Andrea Grix, and Mike Stifler, a retired Department of Environmental Quality Water Division engineer, wanted to change the ditch at the trail entrance to a rain garden that would not only manage water runoff, but also showcases native Michigan wildflower species.

The rain garden, made possible with a gift from Dr. and Mrs. Russ Mawby and the work of volunteers, manages the rain runoff from the impervious surfaces like the road, parking lot and compacted lawn areas at Kettunen Center by collecting and absorbing the rain water preventing soil erosion, water pollution and flooding. Native plants are used because they do not require fertilizer, are more tolerant of local weather conditions and also attract local pollinators such as birds, butterflies and bees. The plants absorb excess water and rocks placed at the entrance of the garden slow and direct water flow.   

In addition, the gift supported the work of a professional landscape designer from Manning Designs of Big Rapids to create a new plan for the pollinator garden areas, and to purchase informational signage for the garden. The signage explains the importance of gardening for native bees using native wildflowers, shrubs and trees. The sign is a replica of the signage placed in the MSU Horticulture Gardens at the native bee educational display garden.

Monday, August 13, 2012

2nd Annual Green 5K Run/Walk Results

The 2nd Annual Green 5K Trail Run/Walk at Kettunen Center was held Sat., Aug. 11.
The 2nd Annual Green 5K Trail Run at Kettunen Center, held Sat., Aug. 11 saw a marked increase in participation and competition with over 70 registrants.

The overall winner was Ken Zylicki of Traverse City with a time of 19:42. The women’s winner was Grace Hamilton of Evart with a time of 25:21. See the full results below.

The Green 5K Trail Run/Walk course is advertised as “not your typical 5K” and started with a short spurt on asphalt, which quickly led to Kettunen Center’s extensive trail system. Racers went up and down hilly paths through hardwoods and meadows, and those taking a more leisurely pace, had the chance to enjoy beautiful vistas overlooking Center Lake and several wetland areas. Remarks from participants after the race included “I loved the run! I can see why this is such a good place for teaching outdoor and environmental education,” and “Whew! That was an excellent training run for hill work. Really nice!”

The event would not have been possible without the help of many local community volunteers. Laura Jacobson, Kettunen Center program staff and race organizer praises the efforts of Kettunen Center staff for getting the course marked and cleared for the race and credits the many volunteers who came and helped make the race a success.

Proceeds from the Green 5K Trail Run/Walk will be used to support youth and family programs at Kettunen Center making it more affordable for schools, camps and other youth organizations to attend. Annually, over 2000 youth and adults participate in outdoor and environmental education activities at Kettunen Center that include team building and leadership development.

Plans are to hold the race again next August.

Women’s Run Results

9 and Under:  Katharine Vann (37.18)
10 – 12:  Christina Vann (35.43)  Madeline McLutyre (1.04:42)
13 – 15:  Kinzie Sikkema (27.08)     Cheyana Rizor (28:09)    Robin Peppy (48:58:
16-19:  Grace Hamilton (25:21)    Jamie Bogart (34:49)
20 – 29:  Lindsey Akom (30:55)   Leah Sefton (33:56)   Holly Barber (35:14)   Wendy Paterson (43:02)   Stephanie Ellison (49:54)
30 – 39:  Nicole Edstrom (28:49)  Tonia Hartline (34:38)  Brandy Loveless (35:45)  Teresa Grover (38:46)  Michelle Bartman (39:40)  Sara Keinath (40:46)  Christina Dodde (41:58)
40 – 49:   Ann Bush (30:56)   Sheri Montoye (32:22)   Lauren Heilman (33.26)  Ellen Vann (35:43)  Louanne McLutyre (1.04:46)
50 – 59:  Becky Doll (34:54)   Darcy Vandawater (49:58)  Lisa Fragomeli (55:26)  Deb Nemish (56:11)
60 – 69:  Karen Yorks (37:18)  Joanne Iler (41:29)  Betsy Erickson (41:29)  Barbara Vandenberg (51:26)

Men’s Run Results

10 – 12:  Timmy Rizor (35:28)   Caleb Dodde (36:20)
13 – 15:  Ben Rigling (22:52)  Derek Hartline (25:12)   Joe Rigling (31:34)
16 – 19:  PJ Nemish (56:11)
30 – 39: Jed Avery (27:32)  Scott Akom (31:07)  Kirk Edstrom (34:58)
40 – 49: Mike Battle (25:06)  Tim Rigling (28:59)  Walt Hartline (31:44)  Tom Vann (39:17)
50 – 59:  Ben Zywicki (19:42)  Dale Moody (22:44)  Greg Mills (24:13)  Keith Stutzman (27:32)  Gary Sielski (33:23)
60 – 69:  David Stroud (30:43)  John Iler (50:38)  Ketih Yorks (52:49)
70 + :  Ken Vandenberg (37:40)

Walker Results

Men – 50 and Over:  Mike Tylman (47:18)
Women 40 – 49:   Renee Bisel (52:49)
Women 50 and Over:  Kris Bullock (53:41)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Welcoming Christopher Gentry

Chris Gentry
Please help us welcome Christopher M. Gentry as Kettunen Center director. Gentry succeeds John Grix who served as Kettunen Center’s director since 1988. Chris comes to the Michigan 4-H Foundation from service as executive director of the Oliver Art Center in Frankfort. He brings 25 years of non-profit organizational leadership and management experience serving local YMCAs in a variety of roles including managing a 180-acre facility in Ohio. He recently served as executive director of a $6.5 million YMCA facility in Cadillac with responsibility for building capacity to deliver program and funding which led to completing the construction and opening the facility. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Park and Recreation Administration from Michigan State University. If you are at Kettunen Center in the coming months, please take a moment to welcome Chris to Kettunen Center and Michigan 4-H.

Save the Date for our Summer Events

Summer Family Water Fest - June 9

Start your summer with a family fishing trip to Kettunen Center. Saturday June 9th, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., join the Summer Family Water Fest to enjoy shoreline and pontoon boat fishing on Center Lake. Basic fishing skills will be taught with a prize for the largest fish caught. Center Lake is great habitat for Yellow Perch, Bluegill, Largemouth Bass and this year the Michigan Department of Natural Resources fish-stocked the lake with Rainbow Trout. Enjoy paddling a kayak or canoe and watch Common Loons diving for fish and Great Blue Herons hunting for frogs. Basic boating instruction provided. Other Summer Family Water Fest activities include watercolor art, and water team games. The cost of the event is $4.00 per person or “fill the boat” with five or more family members and only pay $3.00 a person.

Registration deadline June 7th. To register call Kettunen Center at (231)829-3421. Funding for the event is provided by the Osceola County Community Foundation.

Learning Science Through the Arts Camp - July 8-11

Kettunen Center has a summer camp for kids, 9-14 years old from July 8-11, 2012!  It is the 20th year for the Learning Science through the Arts Youth Camp. This year the camp will focus on Games around the World: Our window into other cultures! Campers will learn games, songs, dances, art, sports, traditions and culture of people that live in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. Different cultural food preferences and lifestyle practices will be explored through hands-on geography and science activities. Campers will also enjoy fishing, swimming and boating on Center Lake, disc golf, campfires and much more.

Registration deadline July 1st. To register, visit Kettunen Center online at for a camp brochure and registration form or call Kettunen Center at (231)829-3421.

Camp scholarships funded by Mecosta-Osceola United Way are available for local families.

5K Green Trail Run/Walk - Aug. 11

If you enjoy a challenge Kettunen Center is hosting the 2nd annual 5K Green Trail Run/Walk event, August 11, 2012. The course is not your average 5K. We have it all- hills, flats, woods, lakeshore and fields! We will have medals for the top three in each age group and a trophy for overall fastest male and female runner, plus Masters Runner. T-shirts will be given to the first 50 registrants. Start time is 9:00am. Registration begins at 8 a.m. The race begins at 9 a.m.

Cost is $15 before Aug. 8 and $20 day of the race. To register visit Kettunen Center at, for the registration form or call (231)829-3421.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kettunen Center Director is retiring

After 24 years of service, John Grix is retiring as Kettunen Center's Director. The Michigan
4-H Foundation and Kettunen Center cordially invite you to a retirement celebration to honor John and his accomplishments. Join us for an open house reception on Friday, May 11, 2012 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Kettunen Center. Coffee, punch snacks and cake will be served. A presentation will take place at 4 p.m.

Please RSVP to Kettunen Center at 231-829-3421 or by email to no later than May 7th.
If you would like to submit an item (picture, letter, etc.) for the memory book that will be given to John, please send them to:

Kettunen Center14901 4-H DriveTustin, MI 49688
All items due before May 7th.

If you would like to honor John with a gift, please make a contribution in his name to the Michigan 4-H Foundation to the John and Andrea Grix Endowment Fund to support Kettunen Center. Contributions may be made online at: You may also mail your gifts to:
Michigan 4-H Foundation
535 Chestnut Road, Room 240East Lansing, MI 48824

Feed the Need in Wexford County

In 2011, Kettunen Center staff members started the Feed the Need Program and with help from all our guests, we donated over 500 items to Cadillac Area OASIS/Family Resource Center. Kettunen Center is continuing the program in 2012. Please remember to bring one non-perishable item to the center the next time you visit in 2012.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Traditional Irish Dinner and Ceiliah

Join us for a Traditional Irish Dinner and Ceiliah at Kettunen Center, Sunday, March 18, at 5:30 p.m.

Ceiliah is an informal social gathering with folk music, singing, dancing and storytelling. Celtic music will be provided by Mulligan Stew, a 7-member band accompanied by the Pine River Irish Dancers.

Cost: Adults $25.00 in advance, $30.00 at the door
Youth, 12 and under $15.00, $20.00 at the door

Winter Family Fun Day

Saturday, February 18, 2012
10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Kettunen Center
Join families from across Michigan for a day of winter fun. Try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, sledding, learn about winter survival skills, snow science, bird study and tracking winter wildlife. The day is designed for school-age children and their parents.

Call the Kettunen Center at (231) 829-3421 or email Pre-registration is required by Feb. 17, 2012.

Cost: $7/person (includes use of all equipment, a hot buffet lunch and snacks)

4-H Teen Leadership & Community Change Conference

January 21-22, 2012

By Betsy Knox

Over 140 participants from 32 Michigan counties gathered at Kettunen Center to learn teen leadership skills and how to be agents of change in their home communities. A sampling of sessions offered include: Get Involved in a 2012 Political Campaign; Service Activities that Build Career Skills; Communicating through Conflict, Generating Ideas & Moving to Action; The Photovoice Project: Recording Your Life & Community and Seven Billion People: Global Sustainability & Limited Resources. We also offered a session called Outdoor Winter Club Activities, taking advantage of the beautiful surroundings and natural teaching lab that Kettunen Center provides.

As a result of participating in the program, 95% of the participants think that they can make a difference in their communities; 90% feel a sense of responsibility to their communities; and 94% will teach others what they learned at the conference. This conference was supported by the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, the Sandra Clarkson Stuckman Endowment and the Turner-Ousterhout Endowment.

Tree Donation to the City of Detroit

On Nov. 2, the nonprofit agency that manages Detroit’s Campus Martius Park accepted a delivery of a statuesque, 60-foot Norway Spruce tree that crowned the 2011 Detroit Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and related Winter Magic-Detroit festivities. The 50-year-old evergreen was a gift from Kettunen Center.

The Detroit 300 Conservancy had launched a statewide search for a Michigan tree in August without success. The Michigan Christmas Tree Association pledged support, and through its vast grower’s network ultimately located the tree with help from Michigan State University Extension. The tree was planted a half-century ago to celebrate the opening of the Kettunen Center. It has become a fixture at the Center, where it dominates the arboretum, said John Grix, director of the Kettunen Center. “It’s like a page out of the children’s book The Giving Tree,” Grix said. “It’s a magnificent tree and has given us so much over the years, helping create a beautiful sanctuary for our staff and guests. It’s a fixture here and will be missed, but unfortunately has long out-grown the arboretum. When we learned of the Detroit Christmas Tree search, we couldn’t think of a better use for it.”

The tree was harvested on Oct. 31 and arrived at Campus Martius Park Nov. 2 where it was transformed from wild, forest beauty to glittering, holiday royalty. It took more than a week to ready the tree for the Nov. 18, 2011 Detroit Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Winter Magic-Detroit festivities, presented by DTE Energy Foundation.

Read more about the tree and lighting ceremony in the press: