Many things have changed since my March 16th email therefore I felt it necessary to update all of you on the latest events at Dahlem. One fact remains constant is the way we operate and live our lives is changing daily. Dahlem is complying with all Federal and State mandates to help stem the spread of this lethal disease.

Staff Layoffs
Due to the severe impact of the COVID-19 Virus and the impact of Governor Whitmer’s stay at home EXECUTIVE ORDER No. 2020-21 effective March 23rd on Dahlem’s business, Dahlem was forced to make a very difficult decision resulting in placing most of our hard working dedicated staff on temporary layoff/indefinite leave effective March 27, 2020. This is a temporary layoff/indefinite leave. While not guaranteed, an expected return to work date is July 27, 2020. The required search for work requirement was waived for all affected staff members. This was a very difficult decision made after all alternatives were considered. It was made after the Federal Stimulus Bill was enacted insuring that all affected staff would be made whole financially and paid at least their salary and probably more while laid off because of the combination of State of Michigan Unemployment compensation payments and the Federal Stimulus payments guaranteeing $600 per week to those laid off because of COVID-19. While difficult, it was done to insure that everyone has a job to return to and Dahlem remains sustainable so we can continue our mission of Providing Environmental Education and Outdoor Experiences to the citizens of south central Michigan.

Little Acorn Preschool and Environmental Education Classes Remain on Hold
As of this time nothing is definite about classes resuming after April 13th. All indications from Governor Whitmer is that classes will not resume for the balance of the school year. We will continue monitoring the situation and will comply with all State and Federal orders. These closings do impact the bottom line because these programs are tuition and fee based and are a loss of budgeted revenue.

Summer Camp – Relief for Harried Parents
We are planning our fantastic Summer Camp will start on schedule June 1st. We are expecting a large enrollment because we know parents, grandparents, and guardians, want to get their children outdoors and in nature after being cooped up at home. Please enroll your children online at the Dahlem website

Gift Shop, Exhibit Area, North and South Buildings
Following Governor’s Whitmer’s Executive Orders these will remain closed. Office Manager Denise Bigham and Executive Director Ben Dandrow will respond to voice messages left on our office phones and emails. Live animals will be fed, bills paid, checks processed, and necessary business will be transacted. Payments and Donations will be accepted and acknowledged. If possible please conduct these types of transactions online. Thank you.

Trails and Playscape
All six trails remain open from dawn to dusk including our dog friendly Butterfly trail off Wickwire Road. It is extremely gratifying to see the incredible number of families and individual’s enjoying these early spring days walking our trails and communing in nature. Dahlem is truly providing outdoor experiences in this time of need when people need to get out and find an antidote to social distancing. The one thing health authorities agree on is the beneficial effects of getting out in nature during these stressful times. Come out and enjoy our trails and clear your minds!

Pet Etiquette – Please Observe
One thing for those who use the Butterfly Trail to walk your dogs is to leash them and pick up after them and discard properly. With the concern about disease transmission it is not right or moral to expect someone else to pick up after your animals. Enjoy the trails with you pets but please exercise pet etiquette. Above all please bring your pets to walk on the Butterfly Trail only. We love pets but please observe the no dogs’ signs on the other trails.

New and Membership Renewal Offers – Check them out and take advantage now!
Now is the time to take advantage of the discounted rates being offered to become a member or to renew your membership online. We are offering discounted one and two year rates with automatic renewal to help reduce paper, mailing, and staff costs. Please check this out on the website.

Donation Boxes – Thank you for your Support
Enjoy the trails and if you can see your way to do it in these difficult economic times please leave a donation in one of our boxes at the entrances. The Trails are Free but the Bills are Not. Thank you for your support.

Community Gardens Wickwire Road – Some Great Plots are still available
There are still some wonderful garden plots available for lease at our community gardens on Wickwire Road. One of the true joys of my life is gardening in the spring and summer. Growing your own vegetables and fruits is a great experience at the Community Gardens – fresh air, exercise, comradery with other gardeners, watching your plants grow, and enjoying the bounty of your efforts. Call the office or check it out on the website.

Ending on a Note of Optimism
As I write this memo on my birthday on a dreary Saturday afternoon and evening I am reminded of the many things I have seen in my life both good and bad. Quite frankly, this is unprecedented – I have never seen or experienced a global economic shutdown brought about by governmental action to suppress a virulent COVID-19 virus. But I know America and Dahlem will come through this down period albeit different but we will survive! The United States and Dahlem will survive because of the irrepressible optimism, strength, and can do spirit of the American people as embodied by the founder of Dahlem Betty Desbiens who will celebrate her 100th birthday this June along with the 100th anniversary of Women Suffrage.

Stay well and Healthy Thank you for your continued support of Jackson’s Nature Place.

Ben Dandrow
Executive Director

As a 501(c)3 Dahlem completely relies on the generosity of donors, members, and grants to keep our programs running. Please make Dahlem part of your legacy by remembering us in your year end donations and during estate planning. Click for more information and Thank you!


Register your camper NOW for one or more exciting sessions this summer.

We are hiring summer camp counselors and assistant counselors, and

recruiting volunteers and program presenters.  Please follow instructions to APPLY.

Thank you!  We look forward to a fantastic summer experience!