The new observation deck at Portman Nature Preserve is finished – thanks to kids, community, and volunteers!

Portman Nature Preserve. Photo by Beth Earl.

Everyone wants to get closer to the water. People want to look for turtles snoozing on logs, see little birds flitting through the shoreline shrubs, and watch daring dragonflies zooming near the water’s surface.

With so much (and more) going on, the shoreline is a natural classroom, offering lessons in science, math, music, literature, art.

The shoreline can be peaceful, too. It’s a nice place to relax with a cup of coffee, to chat with a friend, to clear your head and heart.

Behold the power of kids!

Students from the 2017-2018 fourth grade class of Mattawan Later Elementary School, also wanted to get closer to the water. They could see the potential that Mud Lake’s shoreline offered, so they decided to raise money toward building an observation deck.

Those kids raised more than $516!

The community responded to the kids’ request for donations, anonymous donors provided matching funds, and work began on the project earlier this spring.

Behold the power of volunteers!

The deck was built by a very effective group of volunteers. Jay Bonsignore and Bruce Jaksa generously shared their experience, expertise, and stamina – putting in long hours that included design and off-site construction. They were joined by a steadfast bunch – Lyle Davis, Bill McNulty, Thom Coder, and Pete Boerma – who braved the heat and mosquitoes to get the job done. 

And it turned out beautifully. 

We are touched and inspired – and very appreciative – when we see how much people care about Portman Nature Preserve and how they want to make it better for the good of the community.

To the 2017-2018 fourth graders from Mattawan Later Elementary School, to their teachers, to everyone who made a donation, to the volunteers who worked so hard . . .

. . . thank you.


Watch for more improvements coming to Portman Nature Preserve soon. For more information about Portman, including trail maps and driving directions, click here:
maps & more

Photo at top of post by Beth Earl; final photo by Megan Martin; all others by Peter Ter Louw.