With $50,000 in grants from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund awarded to Meridian Township, Jane Greenway, parks and land management coordinator, said this money will help create new park projects as well as make sure to maintain what is already in place.
Greenway, who is a landscape architect, said the main project to be installed is a new waterless bathroom that will be built at the Harris Nature Center in Okemos.
“This will be great for the environment because it uses almost all recycled materials,” said Greenway. “Compostable toilets work better, smell better, and are better for the environment.”
Greenway said the grant funding application process is very similar to the college application process, and each application is graded on a specific point scale. Points can be awarded for environmentally friendly design standards as well as crime and safety regulations within a township.
According to Greenway, any area that is government regulated can apply for grants. Applications must be sent in by April each year. After the applications have been sent in, they are reviewed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and then sent to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board. In December, recipients of the grants are notified.
Michigan State University junior Eric Behan has lived in Okemos his whole life and said he feels good that the grant money is going towards bettering the environment, and believes the community should be educated about keeping the world around us healthy.
“I feel that it’s a great choice for the grants to be directed to nature,” he said. “We put a big emphasis on education here in Meridian and I feel that the grant money will go a great distance in helping educate the community about wildlife and our environment.”
Behan has very fond memories of when he had his 7th birthday party at the Harris Nature Center.
“I loved it, it was one of the best birthday parties I had ever had,” he said. “I just remember they had all these cool reptiles and other animals that they brought out.”
Greenway claimed one way Meridian tries to educate people about nature is through field trips with the local elementary schools.
Okemos native Atticus Bohr, who has lived in Meridian Township for the last 18 years, remembers when his elementary school class took a field trip to the Nature Center.
“From what I remember it was a pretty cool place, pretty big,” said Bohr. “It was fun, we got to play and hold turtles.”
Behan said he loves the community where he grew up, and believes being awarded the grants proves why Meridian is such a great place to live.
Bohr said he has a lot of memories playing at parks with his friends and family when he was younger.
“As a kid I always went and hung out at the different parks and loved going to them,” he said. “It was always a great hangout spot. It will be cool to see how they improve those parks.”
Bohr said he is proud his hometown was selected as a grant recipient.
“For my town to be selected is fantastic,” said the Okemos native. “It will be interesting to see what they do with the grants. Growing up here and living here my whole life, watching this community grow, it’s nice to see that we are getting more support.”
According to Greenway, Meridian Township likes to put on plenty of activities for the community to come and gather together.
One of the biggest events the Township hosts is “Celebrate Meridian.” A get together at the end of June into the beginning of July where the entire community comes for live music, food trucks and plenty of nature exhibits.
Greenway said most people in the township do not realize how fortunate they are, due to the nearly 2,000 acres of park reserves and recreations.