Leah and Craig Bennett established the Spirit of Alexandria Foundation to remember their daughter Alexandria Bennett, the late granddaughter of ARBOC Mobility president, Jim Bartel. The foundation builds on the passion Alexandria held for nature in her young age. In cooperation with partners close to home and across the country, the foundation helps other children experience nature in the places Alexandria loved.
Alexandria’s Nature Buses are central to the mission. Bartel and ARBOC first developed the vehicles for use in Yellowstone National Park, WY, and as mobile classrooms for the Teton Science Schools, which has worked 40 years to connect children to nature through programs in remote areas of Greater Yellowstone. Many of the children in these areas have not had the opportunity to visit the ancient homes of their ancestors. Alexandria’s Nature Bus makes that possible.
Earlier this year the Howell Conference & Nature Center, Howell, MI, met with The Spirit of Alexandria Foundation to devise the second Spirit of Alexandria bus. Established in 1978, the Howell Nature Center provides wildlife rehabilitation and conservation education with their on-site and off-site programs. The center sees the nature bus as the perfect means to reacquaint children with nature. With the help of ARBOC Mobility and the many supporters of the foundation, the nature bus was completed and presented to the Howell Center at the Foundation’s Annual Golf Outing.
The Howell Nature Bus shows animals native to Michigan. The nature bus is available for any school to book for a classroom, and the foundation will provide grants for schools and teachers to experience the nature bus even in uneasy economic times.
The vision of The Spirit of Alexandria is to have nature buses as mobile classrooms across the United States in nature centers or state parks to connect as many children as possible with nature, and to help them better experience the world around them.