Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve



Summer Family Programs

Thank You

Friendly Faces

Nature Neighbors



The Bunker Interpretive Center

Walking trails are open to the public every day from dawn to dusk.

Bunker Interpretive Center (BIC) hours

Academic year:
M–F  9 a.m.–5 p.m.

M–F  8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Closed weekends and holidays.
Admission to the trails and BIC is free.

1750 East Beltline Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
(616) 526-7600

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Bring your family to the preserve for our free Summer Story programs!  Miss Nancy, our volunteer naturalist, will read a nature storybook, then play a nature game or go for a hike with the group.  We will be reading about herons, turtles, bats, slugs, and more.  For schedule details, click here.


A big “thank you” goes out to our community for supporting the Native Plant Sale this year.  We are grateful to the nearly 200 community members who purchased native plants, and showed their support for our mission.  We are also grateful to the 20 volunteers who helped us transplant thousands of plants, make as many tags, move numerous flats, and greet visitors.

Each year more and more gardens are being filled with native plants, which in turn help our insects, birds, and animals in West Michigan by providing them with food and shelter.  And each year, more and more children are able to attend our educational programs at reasonable prices (or even better, for free), which in turn enables us to inspire our students to care for the environment.  back to top


summer stewards
Introducing our Summer Preserve Stewards
(from L to R):

Annaka: a sophomore, double majoring in Biology and Environmental Studies
Jesse: a junior, majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering, with an Environmental Studies minor
Seth: a junior, majoring in Biology, with an Environmental Studies minor
Emily: a senior, double majoring in Biology and Spanish

What do you do at the preserve?
We gather data for a variety of long-term monitoring projects, including surveys of birds, small mammals, trees, and macro invertebrates. We also remove invasive species, maintain trails, and participate in restoration efforts both here and at the Flat Iron Lake Nature Preserve.

Why are you excited to work at the preserve this summer?
All our new stewards look forward to spending time outside!  Annaka also wants to take the information she learned in her classes and apply it in a practical way, and provide the wildlife here with a healthy habitat.  Jesse hopes to discover new plants and animals he hasn’t observed yet.  Seth is partial to birds, and looks forward to learning more about them.  Emily wants to learn more about native plants and plant identification.
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You might find this neighbor at the preserve and near your neighborhood!

Meet Your Neighbor:  American Toad (Bufo americanus)
american toad

Description: 2-4.5 inches, short, stocky body, warty skin & relatively short hind legs 
Voice: High pitched trill lasting 10-30 seconds.  To listen to its call, click here.
Habitat: open woodlands, woods edges, prairies, meadows, marches, suburban yards and parks 
Interesting Facts: Toads don't give you warts! They have glands (‘warts’) behind their eye that produce a toxin that many predators dislike.  Toads eat worms, spiders and insects, so they are great to have around your home or schoolyard.  Toads, like all amphibians, can breathe through their skin.

Be a Good Neighbor:

  • Create gardens around your school or home to provide toads and frogs a habitat.
  • Avoid using pesticides around your home or school that could harm toads and frogs.
  • Before you pick up toads or frogs, be sure your hands are clean - no sunscreen or bugspray! (Remember, they breathe through their skin.)
  • Make a toad abode (see 'Unplugged' for instructions).

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As a family, make a toad abode this month. Good neighbors come in all different species. Provide your neighborhood toad with a home and some water, and he will consume your garden pests and insects. What a great neighbor! Toads need cool shady places to hide from predators and the sun.  For your toad abode, you will need a terracotta flowerpot and saucer. Take your pot outside to a shady moist spot in your garden or school yard, dig a shallow hole using your trowel, and lay it on its side. Fill the pot half way up with dirt and leaves. (Hint: Toads like to live next to downspouts and air-conditioning unit drip drains.) Place the saucer next to the toad abode and fill it with a small pebbles and lots of water. Wait for a toad to make itself at home and enjoy the shady retreat from the sun!
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