A leader in environmental education, Dr. Mary Jane Dockeray inspired thousands of children to ‘learn by doing’ through her enthusiastic teaching style and infectious love of nature. After graduating from Michigan State University with degrees in geology and environmental education, Dr. Dockeray worked as the Curator of Natural History at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. She visited schools, educating students about natural sciences and the environment. She authored the book Let’s Go Exploring: Suggestions for Field Trips and Associated Studies in Environmental-Conservation Education. Dr. Dockeray also wrote and produced a film titled These Things Are Ours viewed throughout the United States and Canada as part of lecture tours for the National Audubon Society. She received numerous awards, including the Michigan Audubon Society Outstanding Member Award, and has a scholarship and an award named after her.
The creation of the Blandford Nature Center and the Blandford Environmental Education Program were spearheaded by Dr. Dockeray. The Center encompasses 143 acres of diverse habitats, an interpretive center, farm demonstrations, and several historic buildings. The Center offers programs for school children, adults, and families, while hosting festivals, nature trails, wildlife rehabilitation, and historic reenactments. Blandford has an environmental school that allows academically gifted school children to experience a full school year in nature. Every academic subject is blended with the outdoors and the program continues to be among the top schools in Michigan for academic achievement.