May 4, 2020 Open Letter from the Executive Director

May 4, 2020 Open Letter from the Executive Director

May 4, 2020; An Open Letter to Dahlem’s Friends, Our Supporters, Donors, Members, Sponsors, and Visitors on the Impact on Dahlem from Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe and other Executive Orders

Preschool and Environmental Education Classes
In April, Michigan Governor issued an executive order closing Michigan schools for the balance of the school year. Our Little Acorns Nature Preschool for three and four year old, and our Environmental Education classes were already closed under the first executive order on March 13. These programs are tuition and fee based so their closing resulted in a large loss of revenue to Dahlem.

Gift Shop, Exhibit Area, North and South Buildings
These areas remain closed under the Governor’s orders. 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.

Curbside Birdseed Sales at Dahlem Tuesday through Friday 10 am – 2 pm
We are able to sell Bird seed under the Governor’s orders by curbside sales only. Call your order in and you can pick it up on the sidewalk on the dolly outside the South Building Tuesday through Friday 10 am – 2 pm. You can use the dolly to transport your purchase to your car. Please use Dahlem to purchase your birdseed needs.

Summer Camp
There are many parents and kids that look forward to the start of our outstanding summer camp. Currently we have nearly fifty campers enrolled. One of the most recent gratifying emails I’ve received came from Travis Bott who is a paramedic in Ohio. He wrote “My sister and I attended Dahlem back in the 80’s and I feel so strongly about your program that I’m sending my kids from Columbus Ohio”.

Since the first shutdown orders were issued in March it has been our desire to have Summer Camp start as scheduled on June 1st. However, the extension of the Stay Home, Stay Safe order to May 15th has made it impossible to do this. At this time we do not know if the order will be extended. We are also waiting for the Center for Disease Control and the American Camp Association to issue guidelines for summer camps on how to deal with COVID-19. I want to assure parents that every precaution will be taken to insure the safety and health of every camper and counselor at camp.

At this time we are looking at a June 28th start. In past years camp was not held this week because of the July 4th holiday falling in this week but nothing is normal this year. If we can start camp this week we will be able to hold seven sessions instead of nine but still provide camp weeks for all age groups. Stay tuned for more updates as we will be updating parents and campers when details become available.

Little Acorns Nature Preschool
We are planning to start our Little Acorns Nature Preschool on schedule in August. But like so many things today that are out of our control, we are waiting to hear from the Federal and State government authorities on when schools will open and guidelines for opening. When school does open we will follow all health and hygiene guidelines to insure the safety and health of our students, their families and our staff.

Community Gardens for Stress Relief
There are a few choice plots still available. Our community gardeners have been chomping at the bit to get started. Gardening is one of the greatest stress relievers there is and everyone could use some stress relief today. There are so many benefits to having a garden plot at the Community Gardens. Growing your own vegetables and fruits is a great experience at the Community Gardens – fresh air, exercise, comradery with social distancing, watching your plants grow, and enjoying the bounty of your efforts. Check out the web page or please contact:
Ben Dandrow Executive Director
Libby Greanya Communications
Terrie Goede Plot Assigner

Trails and Natural Playscape another Dahlem Stress Reliever
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 individuals enjoying these spring days walking our trails and communing in nature. We have experienced a tremendous surge in foot traffic. Many new visitors have found and taken advantage of the beauty of our walking trails. Dahlem is truly providing outdoor experiences in this time of need when people need to get out and find an antidote to Stay at Home. 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!

I want to thank Steve Linenfelser, columnist for the Brooklyn Exponent, for the shout out he gave Dahlem in his multi Dahlem referenced April 21st column. I encourage everyone to read Steve’s article, When Nature Makes you Feel Better. One quote from Steve’s article sums it up “Yes, getting outside is a healthy, natural way to help us cope during these crazy times”.

Thank you to the Jackson Area Medical Professionals, First Responders, All Essential Workers, and Essential Retail Personnel who have persevered during the COVID Crisis
On behalf of Dahlem I want to thank all the medical personnel – doctors, nurses, technicians and first responders who have put their lives at risk daily to confront the deadly beast called COVID-19. Thank you to the service personnel in the hospitals. Thank you to the truck drivers, grocery market and drug store personnel who have kept us supplied with food and medications while we wait this out in our homes. Thank you to the bankers and financial people who have kept the banking and business systems open. A heartfelt thank you to all of you. We Are All in this Together!

Donations for Dahlem
This has been a very difficult time in our country for so many individuals and organizations including Dahlem. Most of the staff has been laid off since March 27th. Our core business providing Environmental Education has been ground to a halt. The start of summer camp is up in the air. Despite these temporary setbacks we remain optimistic about the future. Dahlem and United States will get through this. We will get through this because we are a strong and optimistic people. Dahlem will survive because of the prudent fiscal steps we have taken the past four years to insure our sustainability. Dahlem will continue to serve the Jackson Community by providing needed outdoor experiences to our visitors and Environmental Education when classes can resume. Our trails remain open at no charge to our visitors providing solace and refuge from the social isolation we have been enduring the past six weeks. We have made many new friends these past weeks who I hope will stay with us and remember us when we get behind this crisis. For those who have not discovered Dahlem come out and see what Steve Linenfelser was talking about.

If you are able to donate to Dahlem at this time please do so by making an online donation or mailing your donation to the office. Drop a donation in one of our boxes. Please go to our website If you cannot donate now please remember us in the future.

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

Ben Dandrow
Executive Director

  • On May 13, 2020