For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum is part of the Genesee County Parks & Recreation and has the privilege of leading the stewardship efforts for the park system. In a world of “Full Schedules” and digital distractions, For-Mar has found that through outside-of-the-box thinking, creative partnerships and having a YES attitude, we are able to create unconventional stewardship opportunities for people of all ages and abilities in our community to make genuine connections to the natural world. During this session we will explore some of For-Mar’s non-traditional stewardship efforts including unique partnerships, citizen science connections, connections to local muralists, adventure labs, comic books and yes even Tree Houses that set For-Mar apart from other Nature Center stewardship experiences! Then join us as we brainstorm stewardship program connections together to draw in new audiences to your public spaces. This session will have interactive components for sharing stewardship ideas!
Nicole Ferguson has been part of the For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum team with the Genesee County Parks and Recreation since 2012. She is responsible for the daily operations, property development and educational initiatives that take place at For-Mar Nature Preserve. Mrs. Ferguson helps coordinate the development and implementation of educational programming. Her efforts have taken staff knowledge into local schools and community events reaching thousands of children and families. Nicole prides herself on building partnerships within her community in order to create unique educational experiences that bring people together in their parks. Nicole has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Biology and Zoology from Michigan State University and a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Michigan-Flint. Before starting her position with the Genesee County Parks, she spent time as an Environmental Educator in several different areas throughout Michigan including The Kalamazoo Nature Center, Woldumar Nature Center and The Ligon Outdoor Center.
Courtney Prout has an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science from Baker College-Flint, and 5 years as a naturalist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Explorer Guide Program, as well as 2 years as a seasonal park naturalist at the Genesee County Parks’ For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum. In 2017, Courtney transitioned into the role of Environmental Education Outreach Coordinator for the Genesee County Parks and is now responsible for bringing outdoor education to the community. In 2022 Courtney studied to become a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association of Interpretation. Courtney says “I am most at home when connecting people to nature within the parks or when venturing out into the community.”