“It is hoped that an awareness and enthusiasm for nature will further stimulate concern for the total environment and will be an asset for the world and its future.” — Dr. Mary Jane Dockeray
In 1949, Mary Jane began working for the Grand Rapids Public Museum as a nature lecturer. Eventually, Mary Jane convinced the Blandford family to donate 17 acres to the museum for the development of a nature center, and she became the curator. In the summer of 1965, the Museum Association agreed to help seek the funds necessary for building a visitor center, which opened in 1968. Over time, Mary Jane found state dollars to purchase more land, bringing the Grand Rapids city-owned land to 143 acres.