Prairie Restoration Project

Middle Campus students collaboratively created a proposal to carry out a prairie restoration on MG21 grounds. A small group then presented the proposal to Superintendent Dan Olson and two other staff members who listened to the students, asked questions about the project and its longevity, and ultimately approved three areas for students to begin working on. After this approval, students immediately got to work testing the soil in all possible locations. They determined the pH and water-holding capacity of each spot. This helped them determine which seeds to plant from the seeds they collected in southern Wisconsin when they learned to identify several wildflower species. Their next step is to kill the invasive lawn plants in each area to ready it for planting. This is a great start and our bees will be happy!

Here is the proposal letter:

Dear Mr. Olson, Mr. Carr, and Mr. Rossing,

      We are writing to you to share our idea for a project in the schoolyard. Our project is to make a prairie in our lawn along the fence next to the garden and/or at the back of the school. In this project, we will do a soil test to see if the soil is dry or moist, which will help us know which seeds are practical for our space. We already have a large donation of seeds from Swamplovers in Cross Plains, so they’re locally sourced! We will plant these seeds and let the prairie grow, maintaining it over time.
      The prairie will be a good place for our ecosystem to thrive. We already have bees on our school property, and if we have a prairie, they will have flowers and food close by. The prairie will also be a food source for monarchs, moths, spiders, insects, worms, mice, rabbits, and other small rodents. This will benefit our ecosystem by helping it be more diverse. Our prairie would also benefit humans–it gives out a lot of oxygen, and it will be a nice, beautiful, and quiet site for us to hang out, play, and study nature.
      We will meet some community and academic goals by creating this prairie. As a community, this project will help bring us more together by working on it as a team. We will have to maintain the prairie, which will require us to stick with it (resilience). We know that when people spend more time in nature, they become more social and friendly, and this would be a huge plus for us! Academically, we would develop gardening skills. We will also need to research different plants and take notes on them to see if they grow in our region, which will help us develop research and note-taking skills. We would also have a better understanding of ecosystems and how to keep them healthy, as well as what lives inside of one and makes it work.
      We estimate that this will be a long-term project. It will take two years for the roots to fully establish themselves, and another year for the plants to grow to their full extent. To prepare the prairie, it will take us a few months to prepare the soil and plant the seeds. We will need to cover our designated spot for the prairie to kill the invasive lawn plants, which will take 3-6 months. Next spring we will then begin planting!
We hope that you approve our project because this is important to us and we are motivated to do it!
      Thank you for your time and attention.

MG21 Middle Campus Students