The new offerings at Belle Isle’s Nature Center include a variety of options like the Nature Tots program, guided mindfulness, full moon hikes and an outdoor macrophotography exhibition featuring local pollinators.
Amy Greene is the Director of the Nature Center. She says while the Nature Center building will remain off-limits, new outdoor preregistered programming marks an important return to engaging with park visitors after more than a year of pandemic closures.
“We are so excited after such a long break to start hosting programs here again,” says Greene, who explains that, like many organizations and institutions, the Nature Center closed its doors last March at the start of the pandemic. She notes that the uptick in attendance at the already-popular park makes the new programming even more exciting as it means the potential to engage with even more metro Detroiters who come to visit and enjoy Belle Isle.
One of the more unique offerings from the Nature Center is the Nature at Night program, which will spotlight cicadas this summer. Greene notes that while it’s unlikely that any of the Brood X cicadas will be on the island, she sees the immense public interest in these particular insects as a way to open up dialogue about how we think and talk about the species. ”It’s not an invasion, they’re not taking over — all of these are negative connotations,” explains Greene, who says that she wants to reframe this as a special visit from some incredible insects. “It’s really amazing how something can live for so long and know when to collectively emerge.” She says the Nature Center will also host a full moon nighttime nature hike each month.
Another noteworthy highlight on the horizon is an art installation by macrophotography artist Joseph Ferraro. The outdoor exhibition is called “Overlooked,” and the massive photographs will feature the hidden world of insects who call the park’s pollinator gardens home. Greene says the style of this exhibit is special in that it removes any of the barriers that can sometimes keep people from viewing and engaging with art in traditional museum settings. Greene also points out the outdoor nature of the installation means that anyone can enjoy a self-guided tour at any time. She says that some of the pieces will even be intentionally set low to be at children’s eye levels.
Additional programs include participatory science hikes, neighborhood nature adventures, art made of natural materials and a chance to check out the hives of Belle Isle’s hardworking honeybees. In order to maintain capacity limits, guests must reserve their visit in advance. All programming is free.
To learn more about the Belle Isle Nature Center programs and for other stories and ideas tied to getting the whole family outside this summer, register and tune into the Facebook Live Watch Party at 1:30 p.m. Friday, June 4 with WDET’s Annamarie Sysling and Sandra Svoboda of Detroit Public TV’s Great Lakes Now.
Listen: Hear more about the new offerings at Belle Isle Nature Center.