Growing Up Blandford Campaign

Blandford was “born” in 1964 after founder Mary Jane Dockeray convinced the Blandford family to donate 17 acres, which were destined to be parceled off into residential properties, to the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Since then we have matured and expanded over the last 50 years by acquiring 143 acres of bio-diverse habitat and becoming a thriving independent non-profit in beautiful West Michigan.

Now it’s time for us to grow up a bit more.

The $10.3 million “Growing Up Blandford” campaign will accomplish several important goals for this community treasure:

  • triple our capacity for student visits through class trips
  • build a new Visitor Center that is welcoming for people with disabilities
  • create a unique event venue to complement regional economic development
  • diversify revenue sources, making Blandford less dependent on unpredictable grant funding



  • 143 acres to maintain
  • Visitor Center built in 1968
  • 50,000 visitors annually
  • 10,000 class trip attendees annually
  • 12,000 volunteer hours each year
  • We now face a Supply & Demand Problem

But with your help and
support we can solve it! 

If you’re interested in giving to the “Growing Up Blandford” Campaign please click on one of the options below

One-Time Gift

Pledge GiftPlanned Gift

or contact Jason Meyer, Blandford Nature Center President-CEO, at 616-735-6240 ext. 12 or

The Mary Jane Dockeray Visitor Center. This 11,000 sq. ft. LEED Certified building will not only contain staff office and operations but be equipped with expanded teaching space, a wet lab, a grand auditorium, and outdoor amphitheater.

The lobby of the new Visitor Center will be open, airy and inviting while reflecting a rustic touch of the great outdoors that surrounds us. Exposed beams will accentuate the high ceilings.

The new Wildlife Center will be to the left as you walk into the lobby. Visitors can preview our Wildlife Ambassadors through a wildlife display area.

Prior to entering the Wildlife Center, you can get an up close look at your reptile friends as you walk over their habitat via a glass walk way. The Turtle Terrarium will also flaunt a wall waterfall.

The floor plan of the Mary Jane Dockeray Visitor Center. The new Visitor Center will be fully accessible based on universal design principles.

We have a pressing need for a new Visitor Center to facilitate smooth welcoming of multiple groups. It will provide:

  • a flexible 300-seat auditorium for student visits that will help solve the problem of Blandford being forced to turn groups away due to not enough physical capacity.
  • accessible design, including restrooms.
  • prominent space for our “wildlife ambassadors,” the engaging animals we care for who can’t be returned to the wild.
  • potential rental income through weddings, corporate retreats, speakers and other events.
  • new construction that adheres to LEED® certification guidelines

In order to create a sustainable future for Blandford’s growth, the campaign is divided into two different parts: endowment and capital.

Our goal is raise a total of $10.3 million.

The endowment resources will stabilize Blandford’s income, and allow us to focus greater energy on delivering the three things that we are uniquely qualified to provide:

  • easy, equitable access to a natural, bio-diverse area within the city of Grand Rapids
  • care of the land on behalf of the city so that visitors can enjoy it, and so that the natural species can thrive in it without being overrun
  • educating and inspiring people of all ages to become caretakers of land, both at Blandford and in their own neighborhoods.

Capital $3,300,000

Capital funds raised will cover:

  • LEED certified Visitor Center
  • Redesigned Wildlife Trail
  • Pavilion Renovation
  • Campaign costs

Commemorative Opportunities

Donor Matching Opportunities

Frey Foundation

  • Must reach 80% of capital goal before February 2017

O’Donovan Family Foundation

  • $250,000 match

Gillett Family Foundation

  • $180,000 match to Blandford School Alumni (BEEPs)

Legacy Society

Click here to learn more about the Circle of Stewards Society and find out why joining this special group and generously gifting Blandford through an estate, will, or trust can help us reach our campaign goal.

Annual Report

Growing Up BNC

If you’re interested in finding out more about Blandford’s Campaign including our mission, who we serve, campaign goals, ways to give and project budget please click here.