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 On March 4, at the Farmington Hills Nature Center, programmer Carol Fink drills into a tree to put the tap in during a maple sugaring event.

On March 4, at the Farmington Hills Nature Center, programmer Carol Fink drills into a tree to put the tap in during a maple sugaring event.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Spring has sprung in Farmington Hills

Warmer-weather local programs begin 

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published March 13, 2018

 Ryusui Ishimitsu, 8, of Farmington Hills, waits for the maple syrup drip.

Ryusui Ishimitsu, 8, of Farmington Hills, waits for the maple syrup drip.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

FARMINGTON HILLS — Heritage Park programmer Carol Fink has a thing for spring, especially when the sprawling 200-acre Heritage Park is involved. 

“All of the seasons are so beautiful, but spring brings an awakening … bluebirds have returned …  certain robins,” she said.

Spring has nearly sprung — officially set for March 20 — but it’s in full swing around Farmington Hills with various events. 

On Sunday, March 18, the Farmington Hills Nature Center will invite people to turn sap into maple syrup at Heritage Park. Classes are scheduled for 10:30 a.m.-noon, 1-2:30 p.m. and 3-4:30 p.m. The cost is $7 per person or $21 for a family of four. Attendees will learn how to identify and select a maple tree, collect sap, boil it down and turn it into syrup. A pure maple syrup treat will be offered, along with take-home resources for maple sugaring in people’s own backyards.

Fink said that an earlier maple sugaring program on March 4 was “amazing.” 

“It was below freezing, then during the day it went up to 45 degrees and was sunny with light wind, and the sap was busting out of the trees,” Fink said.

As part of an annual home-school nature program at the nature center, home-school students ages 6-11 can attend science, technology, engineering and math classes 1-2:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, March 27 through June 5. The classes are geared toward connecting students to the world around them.

The program’s individual drop-off class costs $8 for the session. There are no classes on March 20.

Other activities include Scout Saturdays 10-11:30 a.m., and Volunteer Day 1-3 p.m., both on March 17 at Heritage Park. 

Spring preschool classes will also be in full swing from March 26 through May 24 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; there is no class during spring break, according to a press release. 

The preschool classes offer a different weekly nature theme and outdoor time if weather allows.

Classes include Nature’s Little Artists, which meets Mondays from 10 to 11:30 a.m. for ages 1-4; Little Trekkers meets Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the same time for ages 1-4, and there is no class April 3 and 4. Young Explorers meets Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m. March 29 through May 24 (no class April 5) for ages 3-5. 

Pre-registration is required for Nature’s Little Artists and Young Explorers. Little Trekkers offers a drop-in fee of $8 per class, paid at the door. Space is limited, with a maximum of 15 participants in each class. Little Trekkers and Nature’s Little Artists require an adult to attend class with their child. Children must be potty-trained to participate in Young Explorers, because it is a drop-off class. 

An Earth Day event is also on tap for April 22 that will explore the cosmos with an indoor presentation and outside event that will feature astronomers and telescopes from the Farmington Community Stargazers from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. March 24 at the nature center. The cost is $5 per person.

Fink said that the Earth Day event will focus on celebrating the history and heritage of “our Farmington community, so our barn will be open — we’re going to have some farm animals.”    

Heritage Park is partnering with Novi-based Tollgate Farm and Education Center.

“Our sister farm down the road in Novi is going to be bringing some animals, a petting farm,” she said. 

Spring archery is back in full swing for adults 50 and older from 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays,  beginning April 24 through May 22 at Heritage Park.

Fink said the park receives calls every day about the archery range “because it is so popular.”

“People love it. We have kids programs, adult programs, women’s programs, local schools (that come),” she said. “We teach certainly safety and skill.”

Fink added that the park, which has been open for over a decade, is meeting the needs and desires of the community by meeting you where you are, literally.

“We do outreach programs; we’ll come to the schools; we’re handicap accessible, including our building and some of our trails,” she said. “It is great offering a lot more programs partnering with the city and other agencies for good programs.”

The Cultural Arts Division is also offering a one-day workshop in hand lettering with Jenny Rhode, of JMR Lettering Design. The three-week art class sampler begins April 7 showing techniques in ceramics, drawing and painting, according to a press release.

A parents night out at the Heritage Park Stables Art Studio, 24915 Farmington Road, is also on tap from 6 to 9 p.m. March 16. Participants should be dropped off at 6 p.m. and picked up anytime within the progression of the class, which is for kids ages 6-12. A Little DaVincis program is set for Saturdays, from 10 to 11 a.m. March 24 through April 21, where children ages 3-5 can be creative through a hands-on child and parent class.  Each session explores a new theme through mediums including drawing, painting and more. 

A colored pencil workshop is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 8, for participants to work under the direction of award-winning artist Dean Rogers. All art classes will take place at the Heritage Park Stables Art Studio.

Jessica Guzman, cultural arts coordinator for the Farmington Hills Special Services Department, said in an email that classes are a great option for anyone.

“We have some new instructors joining our teaching roster this spring, making it a great time for past, current and new students to enroll,” Guzman said, adding that small class sizes and structure encourage students to repeat the class. “Thereby allowing them to further hone their skills over time with the guidance of an accomplished instructor.”

Guzman added that new terms of classes begin in March, and the next term begins during the week of April 16.

“Participation in our youth and adult classes provides increased opportunities for self-expression and enjoyment while also building social relationships with classmates,” Guzman said. “When you’re feeling stressed, perhaps an evening painting in the studio or getting your hands in clay could help refocus your anxious energy into something exciting and challenging while also reducing stress.”

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