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Did You Know?BY KATHY BANFIELD SHAWDid you know there are people at work at Leila Arboretum in the depths of winter? I can almost hear you say, “Why are you outside whenyou can sit next to the fire and sip a warm drink and read the latest seed cat- alogue?” I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there are those who enjoy all things “outside” and one of those folks is Jerry Tilmann. Jerry is a fairly new board member of the Leila Arboretum Society but a long-time volunteer; in fact he’s a proud member of the Tues- day Group (more about them later).With the family farm in Beal City and living in Mt. Pleasant during his school years, it was probably pre-de- termined that he would attend Central Michigan University (Fire Up Chips). And although he didn’t use his educa- tion degree in History and German in his job at the Federal Center, he did find a home here in Battle Creek and a place that allows him to enjoy the great out- doors and do a bit of good for the com- munity as well.Jerry has always lived on the west side of Battle Creek and had easy ac- cess to Leila Arboretum in his commute to and from work. He believes his de- sire to “play” in the dirt is genetic. (Til- mann in German roughly means farmer or working the soil.) He first became a Master Gardner through the Arbore- tum before beginning to volunteer. TheJerry Tilmann“siren called” to bring him to volunteer at the arboretum because it brought him back to his roots of puttering outside and doing good at the same time. The idea of the cycle of life inspires Jerry. “I think it’s the thrill of the process of planting a seed, seeing it grow, harvest- ing the fruit, and watching it die after it’s finished the cycle,” Jerry says.Jerry believes there’s definitely a connection to health benefits and working the soil. “I see the physical, the mental, and the social benefits of working outside with other people for the benefit of the community,” he says. Jerry points to his volunteer time with the Tuesday Group. “We are a groupwho meet on Tuesday morning and our formal task is to maintain the En- trance Gardens of the Arboretum. We collaborate with K-Drive Greenhouse on choosing what we will plant. We do that in November and December. In April we begin the process of prepar- ing the beds so we can plant in May and then water, weed, fertilize, and prune through the summer until fall when we pull all the bulbs and begin the process all over again,” explains Jerry. “We’re also in charge of the Christmas deco- rations,” he says with a smile. The so- cial aspect of the same people meeting each week explains one reason why the Tuesday Group has gone through sev- eral iterations over time. In addition to the Entrance Gardens, the group also periodically walks through the arbore- tum to evaluate other areas for mainte- nance needs to provide executive direc- tor Brett Myers suggestions for keeping the gardens at their best. The group also collaborated on the barrier they need- ed to create near the Fantasy Forest to move visitors to the entrance rather than simply walking anywhere they wanted. “We chose boulders and roses to subtly move the visitors to a better entrance,” Jerry explained.Occasionally Jerry spends time out- side of Battle Creek. Among his favor- ite places are Douglas and Saugatuck and traveling to Europe. He had the fun opportunity of visiting Germany this past fall during Oktoberfest. I failed to ask which he enjoyed more... the beer or the food!Jerry explains there’s always a need for extra volunteers at Leila Arboretum. “There are many areas that require vol- unteers. There’s the Peace Labyrinth, the Kaleidoscope Garden, the Native Garden... and of course the Tuesday Group. We meet for lunch when we get finished each week,” he says with a smile! Jerry suggested you call the office (269) 969-0270 and tell them you’d like to be part of keeping our community the special place it is for its residents and its many visitors... not to mention the many health benefits you’ll receive from “playing in the dirt.”QUALITY SERVICE FOR OVER 50 YEARSFAST EXPERT INSTALLATIONFREE ESTIMATESRESIDENTIAL & COMMERCIALLocated in Urbandaleat 1338 W. Michigan,Battle Creek, MIHours: Tue-Fri 8:30am-5:30pm /Mon 8:30am-7:00pm & Sat 9:00am-1:00pmEQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER269-962-8779 www.battlecreektile.comU.L.A.B.A. MEMBER8 SCENE 4302 I HEALTH & FITNESS

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