Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Prairie Wetlands Learning Center Greenhouse Completes Successful First Year
Midwest Region, August 11, 2009
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When the new education wing and greenhouse at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center opened last August, the staff were excited about how they would use the greenhouse for their environmental education programs. But who would have thought that over 400 students would plant nearly 12,000 seeds of native plants, helping restore the prairie around the new building, the Fergus Falls Headquarters building, construct a rain garden  - all while learning about plants?

With the assistance of a Student Conservation Assocation intern and numerous volunteers, groups in the Center's Prairie Science Class, local scouts and students from around the area planted seeds, cared for the plants, recorded growth rates and transplanted seedlings on the prairie. Students kept greenhouse journals and drawings of the plants in various stages of growth, as well as discovering the different types of soils and adaptations that the native plants have to survive the challenges of life on the prairie.

This first year was full of learning for staff as well as students. making seed tape from toilet paper so little hands could plant the seed was certainly time consuming and hard for more "experienced" volunteers and staff. And the amount of transplanting and watering (plants don't get weekends off) created some challenges of scheduling.

The payoff is seeing students bring their parents back to the prairie to find "their plants" and the pride they show - in addition to explaining how they had to care for their plants, the parts and how and where they grow.

Plans are underway for the next season, and the staff and students are already looking forward to another generation of green thumbs.







Contact Info: Kenneth Garrahan, 505-248-6632, ken_garrahan@fws.gov
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