‘Protecting our Species’

April 4, 2019

Earth Day is coming on April 22, and in anticipation of the holiday, A Few Friends for the Environment of the World (AFFEW) is gearing up for its annual celebration of Mother Earth.

AFFEW’s 29th annual Earth Day celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 13 at the Ludington United Methodist Church, 5810 E. Bryant Road.

The theme of this year’s event is Protecting our Species, and the activities, speakers and guests will focus on wildlife, biodiversity in peril and species loss and the effects of climate change, among other topics.

Keynote presentations

AFFEW President Julia Chambers said there will be two keynote presentations at the event: one from Shaun Mckeon and Nick Green from the Michigan United Conservation Club (MUCC), and one from Dave Dister, a local wildlife photographer and writer with a bachelor’s degree in botany, and secondary education teaching certificates in biology and earth science.

Mckeon and Green’s presentation will focus on hunting, fishing and the protection of natural resources, and will take place from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Dister will give a presentation prepared by Manistee-based optometrist Dr. Brian Allen about the effects of climate change on birds and other forms of wildlife from 4 to 5 p.m.

Dister said the presentation will feature 35 slides, graphs and information about how carbon dioxide levels have increased over time.

“Some of the main thoughts are that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been measured to be increasing rapidly in the last 30 to 40 years, and there’s been a steady increase ever since the industrial revolution,” Dister said. “When you look at a long-term perspective, the CO2 levels have just skyrocketed since then.

“If we can’t keep it from getting higher or reduce it, then the impact … will result in more erratic climate swings with an overall globe that’s warming.”

Dister said this could have an impact on crops, trees and various forms of wildlife.

“The thinking is that droughts will become worse, that could mean crops will be shifting northward as things get warmer,” he said. “We might be losing species like black spruce. Birds can fly, and hopefully they can adjust quicker than reptiles and amphibians … but we might see an effect on species like mockingbirds.”


In addition to the keynote presentations, the Earth Day celebration will feature workshops led by Carolyn Thayer, owner of Designs in Bloom in Frankfort, who will discuss how native plants can prevent erosion, filter storm water and provide habitats for insects and wildlife.

Her workshop is titled “Native Plants & Rain Gardens,” and will be from 11 a.m. to noon.

Kathryn Niemeyer, an associate professor at Ferris State University and family nurse practitioner with a Ph. D. from the University of Arizona, will speak about the medicinal and nutritional properties of plants and herbs in her presentation, “Health from the Ground Up,” from 1 to 2 p.m.

Brenda Begnoche, Heidi Moloney and Kethy Wincezwski — the also known as the Green Gals — will talk about making do-it-yourself ‘green’ cleaning products from 11 a.m. to noon, Chambers said.

“We also have John Ferree from Little Red Organics, and he’s doing a workshop about organic pest care,” Chambers said, noting that Ferree’s talk will be from 1 to 2 p.m.

Kids activities

Earth Day will also feature kids activities, including a live animal exhibit from John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids.

Begnoche has helped organize the exhibit, and she said the specific animals are brought will depend on weather condition.

“They’ll be smaller animals — things they can take out of cages,” Begnoche said. “There’s going to be a 45-minute presentation from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m., and people can come in, sit down, talk about the animals and carry them around.

“Then, for a few hours after the presentation, people will be able to come in, walk around, see the animals and ask questions until 3:30 p.m.”

The live animal exhibit is one of many programs John Ball Zoo takes on the road to promote education about wildlife, according to Begnoche.

“It’s one of their outreach education programs they do for schools and events and other things,” she said.

Animals will also be found at the Ludington State Park booth, where park interpreter Alan Wernette will have a display of reptiles, turtles and snakes.

Wernette’s reptile exhibit will be open throughout the day.

There will also be button-making lessons, hikes other kids activities.


Chamber said there will be 20 booths with different local organizations offering up activities, products, educational material and more.

“The U.S. Forest Service will be there, and so will Ludington State Park and the Sable Dunes Audubon Society … and a lot of the groups we’ve had in previous years,” she said.

Other exhibitors include Hamlin Lake Preservation Society; Friends of Ludington State Park; Steve Begnoche Photos; District Health Department No. 10; Old Silo & McBritton Farms; Knot Your Mama’s Crafts; Morley Chiropractic; Petunia Parade; Kid Ranch CSA; Spectrum Health Green Team; Young Living Essential Oils; Maria Marfia Fine Art; and Live Well Mason Food Council.

New this year will be food and beverages from Marva Jeanne’s Catering, which is owned and operated by David Lefler Ford.

“He’s serving chicken, turkey, jackfruit tacos and other foods that you can purchase,” Chambers said. “He’s trying to be as ‘green’ as possible.”

Marva Jeanne’s will be serving food from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

There will also be raffle drawings for Keen hiking shoes donated by Snyder’s Shoes and an all-expenses-paid weekend stay at Barothy Lodge in Wahalla, among other prizes.

Chambers said it’s important to AFFEW that Earth Day celebration attendees have fun and learn at the event, and that there are plenty of activities and opportunities to learn for guests of all ages.

“We like to have our Earth Day event really be a celebration, and we want to educate people on what they can do (to help the environment),” Chambers said.

For more information, including a full schedule of times and events, visit the newly redesigned AFFEW website at www.affew.org.