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Blandford Nature Center working through the pandemic

The 264 acre nature center continues to stay open despite having to adjust operations due to the coronavirus
Posted at 6:33 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 18:33:36-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Like many others right now Blandford Nature Center is going through tough times because of the coronavirus.

While the center's 8 miles of trails have remained open throughout, Blandford has had to adjust the way they operate to to ensure they remain open.

“During the firm lockdown that we had, you know, folks could go outside for outdoor recreation, our trails saw 3 times as many visitors as what we would normally see," Jason Meyer, President and CEO of Blandford, told FOX 17 Thursday afternoon.

While there were plenty of people wandering the stretch of trails around the 264 acres of urban green space, the center was forced to cancel their long list of events and camps scheduled for the season.

“All told, during our busiest 4 to 6 months of the year, all of a sudden all of our earned revenue was gone,” Meyer said.

At that point they made the tough decision to lay off almost half of their staff.

But that wouldn't last for long.

Meyer said, “we did secure a Paycheck Protection Program loan that allowed us to bring everybody back and what they did remotely was start to work on innovative ways to deliver our programs.”

Blandford has been innovating since they first opened their doors back in 1968. Founded by Mary Jane Dockeray, the center continues to evolve with the times.

“Over the past 5 years we have gone through some phenomenal growth. We built a brand new visitor center, the Mary Jane Dockeray Visitor Center. We acquired the Highlands (golf course) next door, which doubled our land base."

So while their revenue has taken a major hit, Meyer says their attention now is on the future of Blandford.

“We’re really focusing forward, and there's actually a little bit of inspiration that's coming from the staff and from the board and from the community about ways that we can do things differently,” Meyer told FOX 17.

Meyer says these are some of the best ways for people to help support Blandford Nature Center and their continued efforts: