BENEFITING: KATY PRAIRIE CONSERVANCY
Wolf Prairie: Making the Connection
Who needs a place to connect with the natural world? Turns out, we all do. Wolf Prairie is that place for the students at Westside High School. We have been working to connect students to our land and our land to the students. Now we need your help. Wolf prairie has provided opportunities for students to see, touch and ask questions of the natural world. This pocket prairie on the west side of the nation’s fourth largest city is putting young people in direct contact with Monarch butterflies, migratory tropical birds and the diversity of insects. For many of our urban and suburban students, this is their most direct interaction with our natural world. Wolf Prairie provides opportunity for exploration and the discovery of joy in the natural world.
Westside students have been using our outdoor classroom to become citizen scientists. We have sent Monarch migration data to Kansas State University since 2008. Students are studying the populations of native anole lizards as they evolve to resist the influx of non-native lizards. This year, we look forward to a new collaboration with Rice University labs to track the interaction between an insect on the prairie and its host plant.
Wolf Prairie provides service learning opportunities. We have been working to restore the native plants of the prairie and to remove invasive species. We’ve improved the habitat for Monarchs as they migrate through. Through partnerships with elementary and middle schools, Westside students have opportunities to teach younger students about this habitat. As students spend more time exploring the species on the prairie and understanding its importance, they take more ownership in its health. Our goal is to restore this pocket prairie to reflect our tall grass ecological heritage. We hope to create a bit of a time capsule that will allow more students and visitors to experience what our land was like 300 years ago.
While student hands can do much to help the prairie, there are some projects that are just too big. This campaign for Wolf Prairie is to raise funds for the important work of keeping the prairie a prairie. Hundreds of years ago, grazing bison and periodic fires returned nutrients to the soil and cleared tree seedlings which threatened to overtake the tall grasses. Today, we simulate these natural processes with tractors and mowers. Please consider contributing to this campaign to pay for clearing trees on the east side of our property. This will allow us to expand the existing prairie area and to improve the health of our prairie. Help us give back to the prairie that’s giving to our students.
Request: $4,000 for professional clearing of trees on east side of prairie and seeding of native grasses. Funds will be held by our mentor partner the Katy Prairie Conservancy for ease of administration.