MSU’s Spartan Upcycle Store partnered with the Howell Nature Center to install an upcycled library box. This take-a-book, leave-a-book style cabinet was created by Sarah Heckaman and Josh Meyer out of refuse crates from MSU’s Cyclotron, wooden pallets, and plexiglass that once served to cover a map. Even the hinges are second hand, taken from doors that passed through the Surplus Store & Recycling Center (SSRC). Josh, a senior mechanical engineering major and Upcycle’s head woodworker, shared why he’s passionate about these kinds of projects; "I started seeing usable things being thrown away, I had a desire to repurpose and use it in my own work.” Since the launch of the Spartan Upcycle Store in December of 2017, Sarah has served as the director of a team of students focused of rescuing materials from the landfill. “We try to give items a new purpose” said Sarah. “Before, if something was unwanted, I saw it as trash. Now I analyze my waste and make trash the last option.” The Surplus Store also donated over a dozen children’s books to kick off the cabinet’s collection.
Lizzy Schultz, the park’s community engagement officer and an MSU alumni, plans to begin an early literacy program with Sarah and Josh’s book box. The program, “Book Worms,” hopes to connect children with nature through literature and inspire an early interest in reading.
The Howell Nature Center is Michigan’s largest animal rehabilitation center, with 230 acres dedicated to nature preservation and education. They take in around 4,000 injured animals a year, relying on both trained caretakers and community volunteers to rehabilitate wild animals for release and to tend to the center's permanent residents. The park offers day trips and overnight camps, outdoor activities like community yoga, ziplining, and high ropes courses, hosting thousands of visitors each summer.