J.J. Cardinal's In The News....the early years.
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Student focus on feathered friends
February 16, 1998
Goodrich - Second grader Javier P. learned about several kinds of bird nests during a presentation at his school Wednesday, but there was one that stuck with him. "I like the one where the bird uses its saliva to stick it in the fireplace," Javier said. "That's weird."
Javier, 7, was talking about a chimney swift - a bird that uses saliva to secure its nest to walls. He and the rest of the Reid Elementary School second-graders learned about chimney swift nests and 15 others by Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store in Grand Blanc. "we're giving the children an awareness about birds and how important birds are," said their teacher, Linda Jackson. "We teach how birds signal us to the condition of our environment. If they start dying out, we need to be on the alert. If we have a lot of birds around us, we know we live in a healthy environment."
As part of Wednesday's lesson, the students made "nest soup." They all donated various nesting materials, including straw, hair, string, paper and yarn, then put the items together. Each child will take home some of the materials and leave them outdoors for the birds to use in making nests. Dawson said this is nesting season and the materials will be helpful.
While Javier like the chimney swift nest, he was not too excited about the nest created entirely out of saliva by a Chinese swift and then eaten as part of a soup by people in China. "I wouldn't like it (the soup)," Javier said.
The favorite of the students Jolynn Z. and Carly G. was the silver dollar-size nest of a hummingbird. "I like it because it was little - the littlest nest I've seen," Jolynn said.
Getting students to think and talk about bird nests was the goal behind Wednesday's demonstration, said Dawson. "If they get an appreciation for the natural world, hopefully they won't trash the next one they see now," she said. "Education is a powerful thing to have because maybe now these students will be future bird lovers and customers of J.J. Cardinal's."
Dawson, who makes about four presentations to area schools on bird-related topics each month, charges $25 a visit and donates the fee to a nonprofit group. She has raised $500 since January for the Genesee Audubon Society. Last year, she donated $6,600 to various organizations.
[web note: last names of students and minors were omitted by J.J. Cardinal's web guy]
Author in Grand Blanc for book signing event
December 18, 1997
Nationally known author Jon Dunn made a recent appearance at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store in Grand Blanc, as part of a book signing event on Dec. 13.
During the book signing Dunn autographed copies of his book, Peterson Field Guide to Warblers of North America. Dunn signed approximately 10 copies of the book for customers, in addition to several copies to be sold at the store.
Dunn, a native of Dayton, Ohio, said between 10,000 - 13,000 copies of the book were sold in its first printing, creating an entire sellout and thus demanding a second printing of the book. The first copies of the book arrived in stores in October. A second printing was recently issued in December and has already begun arriving in stores across the country.
Dunn was contracted to research, write, and develop this book along with his long-time friend and associate Kimball Garrett approximately 12 years ago with Houghton Mifflin publishers. To this day Dunn has received a mere $500 advance from the publisher and does not expect to see any royalties from sales of the book until sometime this spring.
"It was definitely a labor of love. I wasn't in a rush to get it out. I wanted to be satisfied with it," said Dunn. Dunn has know Garrett since 1967 and the duo have collaborated on several projects in the past, including both articles and books. The book marks Dunn's third foray into the book publishing field. Dunn has previously collaborated on Bird of Southern California published in 1981 with Garrett, as well as contributing several articles to various birding magazines.
Dunn currently serves as an editorial consultant for Birding magazine and is also chief consultant for the National Geographic Society's Field Guide to Birds of North America. While he has no tentative plans for an upcoming book, the author will continue to teach week-long classes at the University of Maine, in addition to leading tours for Wings, an international bird watching organization based in Tucson, Arizona, Dunn said.
Dunn also plans to contribute future articles on Meadowlarks and Longspurs to Birders Journal and Birding magazine. Dunn said that he is "quite proud" of the final product which appears in the book.
He said that he and Garrett spent 10 hours per day for four to five years researching information for the book. "Much of our efforts were spent at the Smithsonian collecting data on various bird specimen," said Dunn. Dunn has spent his life interested in bird watching, according to Dunn. Dunn is an experienced birding aficionado, having been involved in birding since the age of 8. Initially, birding was a hobby eventually became his career, with his career in the political science field turning into his hobby. Dunn received a B.A. in political science from San Diego State University. He currently funnels his extracurricular energies into politics, subscribing to various political magazines.
Dunn was approached by store owner Louise Dawson earlier this fall regarding the a possible book signing in the area. Dunn already has a following in the Grand Blanc community, making him an excellent guest to participate in a book signing, said Dawson. Dawson contacted Dunn via his e-mail address and then called Common Ground distributors, who is involved with Houghton Mifflin. Dawson and Dunn then exchanged e-mail messages until the date for his arrival was set last month.
Rally 'round - City School says 'we are here'
November 20, 1997
Grand Blanc - City School in Grand Blanc recently held a Family Road Rally to heighten public awareness regarding the school.
The event, part of the Family Activities Council for the school, was the first of its sort this fall. The rally, held on Saturday, Nov. 15, was designed to bring families together as well as increase local consciousness regarding City School and its "alternative" approach to education.
"We would like to get the word out to increase enrollment," Mary Bishop, Co-President of the Family Council, said. "We want to be very family-oriented in the process."
City School is an extended year public elementary school, which currently occupies space in the Perry Center. While the curriculum does not differ from traditional education, the focus is primarily time on task, allowing the students the opportunity "to learn at their own pace," without the stress of keeping up with their classmates.
Forty-eight students are currently enrolled in City School, which is divided into two classrooms in the Perry Center, with a third room used as an educational lab. The school employees two teachers, Wendy Kelstrom, who teaches grades 1-2, and Vickie Weiss, who teaches grades 3-5.
Classes are held 200 days of the year, with one-week breaks in October, March, and April. During these "intersessions", the school remains open on an optional basis for students who pay a nominal tuition fee, instead of vacationing with their families.
The Family Road Rally, sponsored by Joan Robertson and Leslie Abud, both parents of City School students and coordinators for the Family Activities Committee, boasted participation of 16 families, including teachers, parents, and students. The rally, included a scavenger hunt which took place throughout downtown Grand Blanc, a set of 13 clues, and an informal reception held at the Grand Blanc Fire Hall, following the event.
The rally was considered a success, according to Robertson, who said she was pleased with the turnout, despite the harsh weather. "It's a nice way to get involved with schools," Robertson said. "I think it's a way to bring a family and school together in a fun way."
Robertson said the rally served its purpose in uniting family and community with education. Ultimately this was the goal of City School, according to both Robertson and Bishop. The rally featured a host of tasks which participants were required to perform in order to earn possible points. The various clues, ranging from finding a shopping bag with handles to retrieving hay and confiscating peanuts, lured team members all across downtown Grand Blanc's shopping district, including J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store.
The clues were designed to be easily solved within the Saginaw Street area, so that no one would have to venture far from town. Bonus points were awarded to teams who went above and beyond the call of duty and performed mildly embarrassing acts in public - from enacting film scenes in charade form at the video store, to playing leap frog at the dry cleaner.
Previous events have included a camping exhibition, which took place in late September. The marked success of the road rally almost guarantees a return engagement next fall, according to Robertson.
This year marks the debut of the City School, a non-tuition based elementary school which operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. The school was approved by Grand Blanc Board of Education last spring and is funded with money granted to Grand Blanc public schools. The Board of Education initially approved enrollment for a limited number of students, with the remainder of requests relegated to a wait-list until space can be found. The slant of City School deviates only slightly from traditional education, but the parents and educators associated with the project say it "offers kids the chance to truly know more.
"There's no more waiting to catch up and everyone works to their own level," according to Bishop.
[Web note: J.J. Cardinal's has provided frequent, ongoing educational programs to City School students since it's inception.]
Birdspotting: Michigan caught in midst of fast-growing pastime
January 12, 1997
DETROIT - Nancy Tar eschewed bird-watching in her youth because it wasn't cool. But now Tar, vice president of the Michigan Audubon Society's board of directors, said the image of a bird-watcher as a pinched-nose, bespectacled, bookish loner has been replaced.
"You don't have to worry about being a nerd anymore," said Tar, of Berkley [MI]. "The average bird watcher is between 35 and 49 and has a college education. The people doing it are well-educated Baby Boomers."
There has been a growth nationally of people flocking to bird-watching as a way to reconnect with nature and to enjoy the thrill of adding another species to one's "life list." Tar said those lists are compiled by serious birders to track species they've seen and identified, usually with a good set of binoculars and a field guide.
There are now 10 times as many bird-watchers as hunters in the country, according to the American Birding Association. And bird-watching has become just as competitive as hunting for some, said Jim Granlund, treasurer of the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, a popular Upper Peninsula [MI] destination for bird-watchers.
Michigan has about 1 million hunters and while no group tracks the numbers of bird-watchers and backyard bird feeders, Granlund estimates there are 1,000 serious birders and likely a million or more feeders.
The growing interest in bird-watching has given rise to ecotourism in some parts of the state. For example, four years ago the city of Mio organized its first Kirtland's Warbler Festival, where people come to see the species found nowhere else in the country. The festival "really clicks with birders," said Diane Szabo, co-owner of the Songbird Motel in Mio. "I think it's the time when people want to get away from the theme parks and roller coasters and want to get back to nature. And, it's a very inexpensive vacation."
Szabo's mother, Virgie Purchase, came up with the idea as a way to promote tourism in her small town. She even renamed the motel from the Alpine to the Songbird to resonate with bird-watchers. Birders have money to spend. We found that out. And they are the greatest people in the world," Purchase said. "When you come up here, you're in the woods. It's very laid-back and serene."
Check out the shorelines
Besides Mio, the best bird-watching sites in Michigan are on its shorelines, said Maureen Martin, spokeswoman for the Nature Conservancy. Some of the most popular destinations are the shores of Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. The migration of birds like hawks and other raptors occurs in September and October. Other species migrate in the spring, Mrs. Martin said.
But the vast majority of bird-watchers in Michigan see it all from their back yards and range from school kids to retirees, said Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store in Grand Blanc.
Dawson opened her shop five years ago and mixes the seed herself. She started out selling 2,000 pounds of birdseed a week in 1992 and now sells upwards of 5,000 to 6,000 pounds each week. "There's a real misconception it's just the retirees. I get people in their 30s come in and say 'I can believe I'm doing this, but it's really fun,' " she said. She said the image of the typical bird-watcher is "frumpy."
"We resent that," she said, laughing.
Links might reduce need for pesticide by scoring a birdie
May 23, 1995
Birdhouses are becoming as common as clubhouses at golf courses these days. Attracting birds to munch insects is one way groundskeepers are trying to cut down on costly pesticides - and improve the environmental image of golf courses.
"It's quite a big issues now," said Chris Allard, superintendent of Sugarbush Golf Club in Davison. More golf course superintendents in Flint and around the country are working natural methods of pest control - such as bug-slurping birds - into maintenance programs.
They also are attempting to restore lost habitat by roping off wetlands, stocking ponds with fish and just letting some areas grow wild. While superintendents say pesticides will remain a staple in golf-curse maintenance, ecological and economic concerns have spurred them to examine ways to reduce use.
"I don't want to spray pesticides if I don't have to," said Steven P. Kolongowski, superintendent of the Captain's Club, which opened a year ago in Grand Blanc Township.
Kolongowski has enlisted Louise Dawson, owners of J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, to help in preserving habitat and attracting birds. Dawson sold the course several birdhouses, designed to draw bluebirds, purple martins and bats. Bluebirds dine on crickets and grasshoppers and purple martins favor mosquitoes. One bat can devour up to 7,000 insects a night.
Not only will houses help pest control, Kolongowski and Dawson said, they will replace habitat lost to development. "it's great any time that (golf courses) can put back something that they took out," Dawson said. "They are under fire from a lot of different groups."
At Sugarbush, which just opened this spring, no birdhouses are up yet. However, Allard said that when workers spray pesticides they do it on a calm day to reduce the risk of chemicals drifting into wetlands on the course. And parts of the course not involved in the playing of the game aren't maintained at all, he said. Some pesticide spraying, Allard said, "is necessary. You can't run the golf course without it, but you can minimize how much you use, too."
Environmentalists have long criticized golf course as habitat destroyers that soak up chemicals to produce their manicured grounds. But one environmental group, the Audubon Society of New York State, decided to view golf courses as opportunities to preserve wildlife.
Many times, golf courses offer the only green space in highly developed areas, said Jean Mackay, education director for the organization. So in 1991 the Audubon Society started its Sanctuary Program. Society members work with golf courses to recommend methods of restoring habitat and reducing reliance on chemical turf treatments.
Mackay acknowledged that traditionally the relationship between environmentalists and golf courses "has been pretty antagonistic." But after a New York golf course contacted the group to get suggestions about natural pest control, Mackay said, Audubon members thought other courses might be interested in the same information. To date, about 1,500 courses are working with Audubon, about 10 percent of all courses in the country.
In Michigan, 86 courses - among them the Captain's Club, Heather Highlands in Holly and Washakie in North Branch - are part of the program, which also offers courses the opportunity to become certified by the Audubon Society.
Mackay said natural pest control can greatly reduce pesticide use, which can cost a course, depending on its size, from $10,000 to $50,000 a year. "It saves them a lot of money. It's safer for them. I find they're pretty much very open to doing it, but it does take time to switch over and know what they are doing."
Ron Wisniewski, superintendent of Flushing Valley Golf and Country, didn't think the pesticide reduction would be so dramatic. "It's going to be a while down the road until we're totally pesticide free, and we spray when we have to," he said. Even without natural methods, Wisniewski said, golf courses are more healthy than they were years ago when groundskeepers used compounds such as lead arsenic and mercury. All they knew was that it worked, it killed the bugs," Wisniewski said.
Today, superintendents use more biodegradable bacteria for pest control, he said. And, Mackay said while in the past groundskeepers blanketed the turf with pesticides, today they are more careful about applying chemicals only where needed.
Bird houses haven't gone up yet at the Flint Golf Club, said Jim Moore, assistant superintendent. However, course officials have planted wildflowers and let some areas "grow up less manicured," he said. Ducks and geese have nested in those areas. "Its good, number one, for the wildlife, and number two for public relations," Moore said, adding that the Flint Golf Club intends to enroll in the Audubon program. "The focus is to reduce the use of pesticides. I think everybody's making a move that way."
But Wisniewski said golf courses aren't as unhealthy as critics say. "If that's the case we wouldn't have all the squirrels and wood ducks and everything else we'd have around here," he said. "They'd be lying around dead. Our livelihood depends on protecting the environment. If we contaminate it, we won't have a job."
[web notes: 1. subsequent to the publication of the above Flint Journal article, Flushing Golf & Country Club added dozens of bird nesting boxes throughout the course's lovely, natural wooded setting; 2. last names of students and minors were omitted by J.J. Cardinal's web guy]
When people told her chasing a dream is for the birds, she agreed
January 1995 - Inside Grand Blanc
Many people would say that turning your back and walking away from 17 years in a prestigious and high paying position with a national company is for the birds. And Louise Dawson couldn't agree more.
Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store here Inside Grand Blanc, not only agrees but couldn't be happier with her decision to leave J.C. Penney and open her store. Dawson spent 17 years with Penney's and her department was perennially ranked in the top 10 nationally. It was a good job with a promising future. Now with her own store, J.J. Cardinal's, she has none of the security J.C. Penney offered her. But, that big smile gives her away. It is obvious she has no regrets and now loves what she does. "I've always had a love of nature," she says. And as she was feeling more and more stifled in her job she decided to take the plunge and do what she had always wanted to do.
J.J. Cardinal's, located on Saginaw Street at Holly Road (next to Subway), marked it's third anniversary in December. And the success of the store proves that it is not only a hobby for Dawson, but that she is using some of that expertise from Penney's to make her own venture a hit.
"We're a nature store with a heavy emphasis of feeding birds," Louise says of J.J. Cardinal's. "We've become the nature center for our area." People come in all the time with questions and have brought in a host of creatures they didn't know what to do with. Then, Louise says, there are those who come in "just to get their J.J. Cardinal's fix."
Dawson's primary products are bird feeders and bird seed. There is an extensive selection of feeders in all sizes, types and price ranges. "Just about everything here has been field tested in my own backyard," she adds. As for the bird seed, she has even consulted with a professor from Cornell University for formulations the birds will really eat and enjoy.
But, J.J. Cardinals is not just a bird store. It features feeders for other animals such as squirrels as well as science and nature kits and items for children, books on various nature subjects, art, jewelry, wind chimes and much more.
Still, what J.J. Cardinal's really offers is education. That is something Dawson really believes in. "I think education is powerful," she declared. She and her staff are more than happy to answer questions and spend time with people so they will know more not only about the merchandise she carries, but about the world of nature that she obviously enjoys.
While most stores selling bird feed will try to convince customers that the birds need the feed to survive, Dawson takes a more honest approach in educating the public. "The only reason to feed is to bring them closer," she explains.
Louise is very appreciative of the support she has received in her new venture. First, from her husband, Mike. "Support is the key word," she smiles remembering when she first decided to leave her job (and pay check) at Penney's. Secondly, from the community. "People warned me not to open here in Grand Blanc because 'Grand Blanc people don't shop here,' " she remembers. But, her experience has been just the opposite. "The support we've received from the local people has been tremendous."
Many times when you walk into a small store where you may be the only customer at the time and the clerk offers to "help you," you may fell intimidated or pushed into buying something. That is not the feeling you get at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store. There is no pushing and you feel comfortable taking time just poking around the unique shop.
It takes a special person to leave a good job with a major company to pursue a love of nature. Louise Dawson is such a special person and J.J. Cardinal's is a special store. There is no better time to find out about J.J. Cardinal's for yourself as during January "there are things going on all month." Whether you have a passion for nature, a love of birds, or an admiration for people who pursue their own dreams, you will find them all at J.J. Cardinal's.
[web note: the store grew, expanded and moved since this article appeared & now is located at 12830 S. Saginaw, Grand Blanc, in the Pavilion Shops across from the Grand Mall.]
Owl caller to speak locally
January 6, 1994
Nature buffs in the Grand Blanc area will be treated to a special presentation by Ray Clay, a noted area naturalist and the man Michigan Resource Magazine calls the "voice of nature."
Clay has developed and practiced the ability to imitate various birds and animals and is now able to attract many species to their natural habitats.
Titled "Bird and Animal Calls," the free lecture will also feature a video presentation and demonstration of Clay's bird calls. The event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday January 20 at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird and Nature Store in Grand Blanc.
[web note: we've misplaced the article which appeared after Mr. Clay's presentation, which is regrettable since so many people attended and enjoyed his amazing skill and wit. Shortly after visiting J.J.'s Mr. Clay passed away. We were lucky to have met and experienced him.]
Bird Lady of Grand Blanc
[bold type inserted by web-guy to highlight JJCardinal-In-The-News]
|J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store ®||12830 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc, MI 48439 810-695-8733|
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