Kalamazoo offers venues for shopping, eating, and even studying, but there are few vistas for nature.
The trees on the quad with acorns as large as rocks may provide shade for studying, but it also lacks diversity. In classes such as Ecology and Conservation, visits to the Nature Center remind students how nice it is to get back into nature.
Not everybody, however, is in an ecology class or so easily finds the motivation to trek out into nature. The Nature Center, by the way, is not the same place as the Lillian Anderson Arboretum. Although equally tranquil, the Arboretum has less interaction than the Nature Center.
For starters, people can see these birds up close because the Center captures birds and places tags on them so they can measure population growth. For instance, two hummingbirds, a cardinal, and a small falcon with sharp claws swept by during the class visit.
Their butterfly populace is also diverse when it’s still warm. Visitors at the Center can see prairie grasslands with dozens of colorful butterflies sailing across a blue sky.
Immersing in nature is good for the body and brain. For instance, an article from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) said “University of Michigan researchers demonstrated that, after just an hour interacting with nature, memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent.”
Clearly, a hike in nature isn’t just for biology students or members of the Kalamazoo Outing Club. It could be the reservoir of inspiration for a creative writing piece. A walk around the Nature Center may improve memory better than cramming for a intro to psychology exam. The same article said researchers at the University of Kansas “reported a 50 percent boost in creativity for people who were steeped in nature for a few days.”
The Kalamazoo Nature Center is a great reason to escape the K bubble and to explore something new.