Main menu


The Williamstons dedicate their lives to wildlife education

featured image

Williamston, Michigan (WLNS) – It may not be obvious at first glance, but the couple’s home in Williamston has an entire nature center within their doors.

Ever since they met as teenagers in Chicago, Jim and Carol McGrath have been devoted to wildlife.

Caterpillars grow and cocoon in the backyard, and turtles sunbathe and swim in a small pool. Caring for dozens of reptiles and amphibians is just part of their daily routine.

They partner with Nature Discovery, a Michigan-focused conservation area and educational program that invites people to visit their homes and see more than 40 Michigan species of snakes, turtles, lizards and frogs. can experience.

The program has continued to grow since Jim McGrath first started it in 1987. When Jim McGrath enrolled at Michigan State University, his couple moved from Illinois to Michigan.

Jim McGrath has always loved nature since he was a little kid running around collecting insects outdoors.

Seeing his favorite places to explore replaced and paved, he became passionate about trying to educate people about what they had missed thanks to industrial construction.

“I was watching environmental destruction. We realized we didn’t know what we were destroying,” McGrath said. “I thought, ‘This is what I have to do with my life.'”

The McGraths often drive Nature Discovery around the Midwest, providing fun presentations to students of all ages, from kindergarten to high school.

Kids can grab a snake or feed a bullfrog. A bullfrog can hop around the middle of a room when excited.

Carol McGrath says that providing people with highly interactive nature experiences helps them develop a connection with the natural wildlife that lives and grows around them.

She believes that connection can help people become more aware of their environment and take more steps to protect it.

“That’s how it reaches people. When they learn about the amazing life resources and diversity of life that Michigan has, they feel more connected to it. They want to see it continue. Plus, The more you know about them, the more your time will be spent outside.

Visitors to Nature Discovery by appointment can see a wide variety of Michigan reptiles. In addition to learning all of them and where to find them, guests can also work with reptiles – if they dare.

While feeding the bullfrog, Jim McGrath explains how excited children get when they get up and get close to the animal.

Especially when the frog leaps several feet into the air and starts jumping over the floor.

“We encourage people to get their hands on it,” said Jim McGrath.

For more information on Nature Discovery, see McGrath’s monthly Nature Newsletter. Visit