ELK RAPIDS — Nature delivers a summer blockbuster, and everyone is invited. Nature Fest in Elk Rapids brings together more than 40 area organizations dedicated to promoting a healthy planet and healthy people.

The all-volunteer nonprofit Green Elk Rapids coordinates the free June 18 affair at Veterans Memorial Park and historic Elk Rapids Township Hall.

“There’s a real range of what people do for the environment,” said GreenER committee chair Royce Ragland. “We wanted to broaden the concept of how people think of environmentalists.”

The family-friendly event takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It incorporates exhibits, activities, entertainment and noted speakers. Presenters include representatives from local land conservancies, parks and preserves, water quality advocates, nature educators, plant-based food supporters, wildlife protectors, native plant experts, recyclers, outdoor recreation advocates and other nature champions.

“We aimed to appeal to families, students, the young, the old and the middle grounders who might be open to new ideas,” Ragland said.

Activities include edible plant identification nature walks, story time for youngsters and “Quick Talks,” five-minute dialogs offered by five regional nature advocates. Speskers include Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation’s Alison Metiva; Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s Glen Chown; Butterfly Zoo director Cyndie Roach; Katie Asher, owner of Slip.Vintage Clothing; and Grand Traverse Conservation District director Koffi Kpachavi

Grand Traverse Conservation District’s booth will highlight the organization’s role in restoring the region’s natural treasures.

“I think people will take away a big picture understanding of what everyone’s place is in being good stewards.,” said Alli Hettmer, GTCD program and operations coordinator.

The nonprofit wildlife rescue/rehabilitation Skegemog Raptor Center will share their work through displays of preserved specimens and artifacts. Founder/director James Manley said they will answer the public’s questions, including those on the current topics of concern, avian influenza and lead poisoning in bald eagles.

“It will be a great benefit for people to see the ways they can engage in nature and to learn what we can do to minimize our impact when enjoying nature,” Manley said.

Grass River Natural Area’s station will promote the exploration of wildlife in northern Michigan, from looking at animal scat to hands-on exploration of pond critters.

“With 40-plus nature organizations working together at one event, it will highlight the diverse and talented organizations we have and the great number of opportunities available to the public for people to get outdoors and appreciate all northern Michigan has to offer,” said Grass River education director James Dake.

In keeping with GreenER’s mission of raising awareness of all things green, Nature Fest strives to set an example as an eco-friendly event. QR codes will be used by presenters in place of printed informational brochures to eliminate paper waste. The public is urged to support the goal by bringing their own beverage container to further reduce the event’s environmental footprint.

Find a full list of presenters and a booth map at greenelkrapids.org/nature-fest-event-info.

“There’s a real range of what people do for the environment. We wanted to broaden the concept of how people think of environmentalists.” GreenER committee chair Royce Ragland

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