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Fenner Nature Center is bringing an outdoor preschool to the former Sycamore Driving Range

Posted at 6:06 PM, Nov 08, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — The nonprofit behind the Fenner Nature Center is taking over the 53-acre site that was once the Sycamore Driving Range and plans to use part of it for an outdoor preschool.

When First Tee - Mid Michigan moved, the city of Lansing chose the Fenner Conservancy to take over the space.

"Fenner has had a long history of education in nature and that was appealing to us. Obviously, they're right there in that neighborhood, too, meaning it's pretty close to the nature center itself," said Brett Kaschinske, parks director for the city of Lansing.

With the help of a $47,000 grant from the Dart Foundation, the former pro shop will become Fenner Nature Preschool.

"That building will serve as the main indoor classroom space for a preschool program that we will be launching next year," explained Alexa Seeger, development and events manager for Fenner Nature Center.

Fenner plans to adopt a Reggio Emilia learning approach, which means preschoolers will spend a lot of their time outside in nature.

"We want people to feel comfortable and confident in nature," Seeger said, "and one of the best ways to do that is just to create those positive memories with nature."

The property is along the Lansing River Trail just north of Scott Woods and Hawk Island parks.

Kaschinske said it will make for a wonderful experience for students.

"Right along the Sycamore Creek, there we have the bald eagle that is very close and nesting there. We have a lot of geese, and a lot of deer in the area," he said.

The preschool will take up just a potion of the 53 acres. Fenner is developing a strategic plan for how to use the remaining space.

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