By Jasmine Nieto, West Central YES! Coordinator
Thursday, January 13 was a chilly morning for the NL-S Middle School YES! team and their 5th grade comrades as they spread prairie seeds!
The high school grounds in New London boast TWO developing prairies, one maintained by FFA and the other started and maintained by the YES! team. The latter was established in the spring of 2019 by the NL-S High School YES! Team with help from the NL-S Middle School YES! Team.
Each year since 2019 the pollinator plot has been used as an opportunity for experiential learning! The middle school YES! team teaches 5th graders about prairie seeds and their relationship with bison. After a quick presentation in the classroom, YES! students lead the 5th graders down to the pollinator plot and they begin to spread seeds. Once the seeds are spread out on their plot, it is time for the “bison” to roll and stomp the prairie seeds into the snow!
In addition to teaching the 5th graders about prairies, the middle school team has learned why the prairie is there and how to maintain a prairie. Laura Molenaar, who helped start the prairies at NL-S, joined
the team and talked to them about different plants that need to be removed from a developing prairie, why a prairie needs to be burned or cut every so often, and the importance of the prairie from 2019 to now.
The pollinator plot is downhill from the middle school parking lot, and it contains a culvert that helps the water make its way even further down to the river. Laura explained to the YES! team that the school had originally planted Kentucky Bluegrass in this area. After a few heavy rains, the grass began to slough off the banks of the hill. Not only did this erosion look terrible next to the school, but it was also causing topsoil and pollutants to run off downhill and into the river. Laura let it be known that the pollinator plot was not just for the pollinators, but that the long roots of prairie plants help prevent topsoil erosion and create a good buffer for the water before it reaches the river.
Major support for YES! comes from LYFT Career Pathways, Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), and Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs). Thank you!