Nature Programs

Youth Nature Programs

Connecting Kids and Nature

Today the amount of time children spend outside is alarmingly little – only minutes per day – while screen time is at an all-time high. This shift to indoors has taken a mental and physical toll on today’s youth and has caused a decline in creativity, concentration, and social skills.

The goal of our youth nature programs is focused on moving kids out of their indoor habitat by providing nature-based learning experiences that inspire them to be outdoors, help wildlife, and become more connected to nature in their own backyard and beyond.

Little Learners – Art & Nature Class (Ages 2-5)

This program, started in the fall of 2022 by Cheryl Gordon, includes a variety of theme- based nature and art projects for preschoolers ages 2-5 years old. The class meets every other Friday from 10:00 – 11:30 AM. There’s also an extra place for parents to visit and relax while the preschoolers are having fun.

For class dates, visit our Calendar or call (906) 484-1333 for details.

Young Naturalist Program (Ages 7-11) 

This program was created to introduce youth ages 7-11 years of age and their parents/caregivers with the ideals and concepts of being a naturalist. Held on Saturdays throughout the winter, the group learned about past and modern day naturalists, engaged in a number of activities including nature journaling, bird feeder making, and more. Each class ended with an outdoor adventure using their naturalist skills to observe and appreciate nature together.

NOTE: Currently this program is not available due to lack of volunteers.

We would love to broaden our offerings in this category. If you enjoy working with children and would like to share your love of nature and inspire a lifetime passion for conservation in others, please give us a call.

Aldo Leopold Festival

All ages are welcome to celebrate the legacy of Aldo Leopold — one of America’s most influential naturalists — during the Aldo Leopold Festival held annually the first week of June.

Activities include paddling excursions, orchid and wildflower tours, birding trips, presentations, and many other nature-based activities. This event is FREE to youth ages 17 and under (a $45 value). Pre-registration is required.

For complete details visit Aldo Leopold Festival.

Nature Programs for Adults

Pursue your passion for nature with like minded-individuals

Hessel School House – Avery Arts & Nature Learning Center strives to provide offerings to expand and inspire those who love nature with other like-minded individuals. Our classes and workshops are led by experienced leaders and professionals eager to share their expertise. Come learn new things and in many cases have the opportunity to exercise your new knowledge.

Here’s a small sample of recent Nature Programs:

  • Wildflower & Orchid Tours
  • Fantastic and Fascinating Fern Tour
  • Lovable Lichens & Magnificent Mosses Hike
  • Les Cheneaux Geology Tour
  • Wild Mushroom Cultivation Workshops
  • Blastomycosis Lectures
  • Invasive Plant Presentations
  • Beekeeping Presentations
  • Kirtland’s Warbler Presentation
  • Forest Bathing
  • Outdoor Cooking & Tasting Classes
  • Stream Ecology Workshop
  • Paddling Tours
  • Nature Preserve Trail Maintenance 
  • eBird and iNaturalist Workshops
  • Nature Preserve Hikes

Hessel School House – Avery Arts & Nature Learning Center partners with many organizations to provide a venue for additional nature-based programming. Partners include:

  • Three Shores CISMA
  • Little Traverse Conservancy
  • Les Cheneaux Islands Association
  • Les Cheneaux Watershed Council
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources


For information on our upcoming nature-based programs, visit our calendar of events.

Have an idea for a future event, workshop or talk? Let us know!

Online Nature Programs

Learn something new any time, anywhere

Our nature videos are built in partnership with scientists and experts in their field. Our video library is an ongoing project. Stop back for new releases and additional resources for all ages.

Blastomycosis: A Soil-Borne Disease of Dogs in Northern Michigan

Blastomycosis (Blasto) is a fungal disease that primarily affects dogs, some cats and, rarely, humans. Infections can be fatal if neglected. Pockets of Blasto infections have been reported across the USA, including the Eastern Upper Peninsula. It is likely that higher numbers of Blasto infections have been reported in recent years due to increased awareness, as well as from human encroachment into areas where the fungus naturally grows.

Presented by:

Dr. Carol Kauffman, MD – U of M Medical School

Dr. Daniel Langlois, DVM – MSU Veterinary College Dr. Clinton Groover, DVM – Pickford Veterinary Clinic

Funding for the taping of this event provided by a grant from the Les Cheneaux Community Foundation – Blastomycosis Education and Research Unendowed Fund.

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Amazing Summer Plants of Les Cheneaux!

Are you interested in learning about the fascinating plants flourishing in the eastern U.P. but feel concerned about public gatherings at this time? We have just the program for you! Join naturalist Brad Von Blon of Little Traverse Conservancy for an interpretive journey through the world of plants in the Les Cheneaux Islands area. Mr. Von Blon highlights several sites, all accessible to the public, and details amazing plants you can find locally. Provided by the Avery Arts & Nature Learning Center in Hessel, this presentation covers orchids, ferns, even exotic parasitic plants such as cancer root. Access to this program is free of charge, however, please donate and help us create more programs that highlight the uplifting, vibrant, and healthy natural features of this area!

Donations can be made to Hessel School House by visiting our donations page, or by calling (906) 484-1333. This program is made possible by The Americana Foundation, Little Traverse Conservancy, and the Sault St. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

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Awesome Amphibians

Spring has truly arrived when you hear the peeps of Spring Peepers and the almost ducky “quack” of Wood Frogs. To explore the worlds of these amazing amphibians, enjoy this production by Brad Von Blon of Little Traverse Conservancy, which covers the frogs and toads found in the wetlands of Les Cheneaux Islands area preserves. Originally designed as a lecture prior to an outing scheduled for April 2020, Mr. Von Blon’s program was cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Excellent information is provide here, though, and the amphibians of Michigan remain available to see and hear.

To helps us create more online programs, please donate by visiting the donations page, or call (906) 484-1333. Part of a series, Awesome Amphibians is funded by The Americana Foundation, Islands Wildlife, and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

If you or your business would like to underwrite one of our nature-based programs, let us know. Your financial support is important to sustaining our programming.

Hessel School House – Avery Arts & Nature Learning Center partners with many organizations to provide a venue for additional nature-based programming. Partners include:

  • Chippewa, Luce, Mackinac County Conservation District
  • Les Cheneaux Islands Association
  • Les Cheneaux Watershed Council
  • Little Traverse Conservancy
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Three Shores CISMA
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