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Au Sable Institute Recognized for Efforts in Environmental Education by Norwex Corporation

Aug 17, 2016

Recognition of excellence in Au Sable’s programs is always a welcome event, especially when that recognition is from outside sources who learn from others about Au Sable’s work, and, along with their recognition, provide support to continue the effort. Such recognition and support has come to the Au Sable Institute’s Environmental Education Internship Program with the award of a special grant of $5,000 from Norwex, an international company whose global mission is “Improving quality of life by radically reducing chemicals in our homes.” Norwex is focused on cleaning without chemicals, and, to that end, produces an extensive line of environmentally friendly cleaning supplies for every imaginable cleaning need.  The company’s donation to Au Sable was awarded at Norwex’s National Conference in Minneapolis on July 30th, 2016.  Celeste Bond (wife of Eric Bond, Au Sable’s Director of Support Services), a Norwex Independent Sales Consultant, nominated Au Sable for the award. 

The nomination was reviewed by Norwex, which determined that the Institute was deserving of these funds. The Norwex donation will be used to purchase a new wood fire cook stove and winter recreational equipment for use in the Environmental Education Program.

 

The Au Sable Institute, and the Environmental Education Internship Program in particular, have been dear to the heart of Celeste and her family for many years. “The Internship program at Au Sable has made a huge impact on my family,” explains Celeste. “My husband was an intern years ago and that was something that really helped him develop his teaching skills and truly solidified his connection to Au Sable. He had loved and enjoyed taking his classes at Au Sable as a college student, but it was through the internship that he knew he would have a permanent connection to this piece of land in the woods. He developed leadership skills as well as teaching skills, which became so helpful to him later as a Program Director at Camptown in Indiana and then as Director of Support Services at Au Sable. We have also had the opportunity to build relationships with many Au Sable interns and we can see the impact the program has had on their lives. Now as a parent, we get to see the program from a whole different perspective! Our kids love their Au Sable field trips and we love the knowledge they gain from them! Our children also get the unique opportunity to build deeper relationships with the interns since we live so close to the Institute! I can't say enough about why I thought this program was worthy of a nomination!” 

The Norwex donation came at a very opportune time,” says Paul Wiemerslage, Au Sable’s Environmental Education Coordinator. “We were looking to replace a good amount of equipment, none of which was cheap.” Paul plans to use the Norwex donation both to update ageing winter recreation equipment as well as replace the wood fire cook stove used during Michigan History classes. Third and fourth graders visit Au Sable’s replica logging camp where they learn about logging history.  “Making cookies in the camp kitchen is many students’ favorite memory of Au Sable,” Paul adds. “This is an activity that we wanted to keep providing for students, to do so we needed to upgrade the stove.” 

Some winter recreational equipment was also in need of attention as there was a growing need to repair and replace broken pairs of snowshoes and skis used heavily in Au Sable’s Environmental Education and Winter Retreat Programs. Both programs will now benefit from the new equipment, allowing participants to more easily access and enjoy Au Sable’s grounds in winter. 

“Winter often gets a bad rap,” noted Paul, “It is cold and that can be uncomfortable and uninviting at times. However, proper clothing and gear go a long way towards creating a positive experience and association with winter that can reverse some of the negative feelings people have towards the season.” “For years,” Paul added, “Au Sable has used snowshoes and skis to help conduct winter educational programming and to access the winter landscape. Today’s snowshoes and skis are lighter and more convenient than the traditional equipment we have been using. Updating our inventory will help us more easily introduce thousands of students to the wonders of our winter environment. We are grateful to Norwex for their support and help in accomplishing this important task.”

Thanks be to God for his sustaining provision, Norwex for their donation, and to Celeste Bond for her nomination and support of Au Sable and its Environmental Education Program. This donation will forward Au Sable’s work of inspiring and educating grade school kids to love and care for the environment in a hands-on setting.