A significant part of our mission and commitment to enhancing the quality of life in Northwest Ottawa County includes prioritizing, protecting, and preserving the environment through thoughtful stewardship, advocacy, and education.
With climate change and environmental degradation presenting major challenges both locally and globally, we believe it is important for us to do everything we can within our community to reduce our ecological footprint and protect our shared environment that will serve future generations.
A few of our grantees leading meaningful environmental initiatives within our community took a moment to express their appreciation to the foundation as we continue to celebrate our 50th anniversary. We have had the pleasure of working with wonderful mission-driven organizations, including the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Department and the Ottawa County Parks Foundation, the Outdoor Discovery Center Network, the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, and the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum over the years to support our shared environmental commitment.
The Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Department and the Ottawa County Parks Foundation have worked to preserve park lands across the Lake Michigan Coast, as well as bring nature into the classroom through the Nature Education Center at Hemlock Crossing. Additionally, Ottawa County Parks has utilized the community foundation’s funding to develop the Prescribed Browsing Project, a unique initiative aimed at reducing invasive species in the area, which helps improve wildlife habitats and supports biodiversity. Finally, the organization has worked to bridge community and nature through developing the Grand River Greenway—increasing community access to natural spaces.
We have also proudly collaborated with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), helping them to bring environmental education, recycling, and composting to the Grand Haven area. Our support enabled them to partner with the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, which assisted WMEAC with its own strategic planning process—working to mitigate environmental issues in our region.
The foundation has also had the privilege of working with the Outdoor Discovery Center (ODC) Network— a local for-impact organization whose mission is to advance outdoor education and conservation in West Michigan. With the foundation’s support, the ODC Network has been able to provide more than 25,000 outdoor education experiences for children and families, including a one-of-a-kind cultural history center, interactive history trail, and a world class visitors center. The organization has also worked to launch an environmental education network that supplies resources for students and teachers to explore their local parks and outdoor spaces—getting community members excited about nature. When the community needed it most, the foundation worked with the ODC Network to provide over 10,000 hours of safe outdoor education programming during the pandemic.
Furthermore, the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum has utilized the foundation’s funding to elevate sustainability and sustainable business in the area—highlighting its potential as an economic driver and a defining feature of the lakeshore as an economy and destination. The organization hosts events, creates resources, and facilitates important conversations surrounding the future of natural resources and the local economy. Through this effort, they have been able to support and empower sustainability champions to work on behalf of our community—opening spaces for sustainability experts and business leaders who care about the environment to work together.
We are proud to partner with and support such impactful organizations that are working to make a difference for our environment and beloved community. Thanks to the support of our generous donors, these meaningful efforts were made possible. As we celebrate 50 years of activity in Northwest Ottawa County, we look forward to continuously making a positive impact for generations to come.