Otilia Frish, County Superintendent of Schools talked Peter Hartley into giving/selling the original 80 acres of land to the students of Saginaw County. Thus began "Hartley Nature Camp". The Hartley Nature Camp Corporation, began a summer nature camp about 1948, which continued until the camp was acquired by the Saginaw Intermediate School District late in 1969. The Hartley Outdoor Education Center opened in 1975.
Hartley Outdoor Education Center, owned and operated by the Saginaw Intermediate School District , was established to provide students firsthand experience in the world out-of-doors. Emphasis is placed on environmental and outdoor education, but academic knowledge and social skills in a variety of other areas are also emphasized. Currently Hartley is over three times its original size, totaling 300 acres of natural habitat, including hardwood forest, wetlands, meadow, ponds and a creek. The Hartley site is also home to the Coal Mine No. 8 Historical Site & Museum, Schroeder Log Cabin, Fowler One-room School , Murphy Farmhouse & Henige Log Cabin, and Farm Learning Center .
Hartley Outdoor Education Center provides day trips and over night residential outdoor education programs for students and adults.