Skip to main content


RAM Center building



The Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center (RAM Center) began as the Higgins Lake Conservation Training School, established in 1941. The campus occupies 32 acres of wooded land, including 660 feet of Higgins Lake shoreline. Many of its existing buildings were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp from 1939-1942, and many other individuals and organizations helped create the furnishings that gave the center its unique "up-north" style.

In 1972, upon the death of DNR Director Ralph A. MacMullan, it was renamed as the Ralph A. MacMullan Conservation School then later, conservation school was changed to conference center.

Between 1941 and 1988, the DNR conducted the Teachers Conservation School each summer where generations of Michigan teachers came to Higgins Lake to learn about conservation of Michigan’s natural resources from the people who manage them. The school underwent many changes throughout the following decades, run by various organizations.

For several decades, the tradition continued with the annual DNR Academy of Natural Resources, held each summer at the RAM Center. In addition, a number of groups and organizations have regularly met at the RAM Center over the years and fondly refer to it as their home.

In March 2021, after closing for approximately one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Conference Center reopened and for the first time, extended invitations to families and small groups.

Teachers learn about gun safety at Teachers Conservation School at RAM Center
Teachers Conservation School circa 1950
Academy of Natural Resources at the RAM Center
Academy of Natural Resources 2018