Stillwater, Minn. (Oct. 20, 2016) – St. Croix Preparatory Academy (St. Croix Prep) and several partners announced today that the school will be the site for a new prairie restoration project on October 28, 2016. More than 1,170 St. Croix Prep students and 120 staff, along with many parents and community partners, will come together to plant and seed nearly 10 acres.
“As a school founder, it is a dream realized,” said Kelly Gutierrez, Chief Financial Officer for St. Croix Prep. “My hope is that this restored prairie will serve as an inspiration for future generations to show what we can accomplish when we work together for good.”
The project has been a community effort for the school and was made possible by partnering with Audubon Minnesota, Washington County Pheasants Forever, Washington Conservation District, Emmons & Olivier Resources, Inc., Bayport Fire Department, and Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization.
“With the school, students, and partners involved, we have a solid recipe for long-term success for creating an established prairie,” said Kristin Hall, Audubon Minnesota’s Conservation Manager. “This restoration will provide important habitat as well as create a more resilient environment in the wake of a changing climate by keeping water on the landscape.”
The project benefits St. Croix Prep, the Stillwater community, and our ecosystem by creating habitat for birds, helping pollinators and providing clean water benefits. There is a great need for prairie restoration in Minnesota and across the country: less than one percent of prairies remain of the 200 million acres of grassland that covered North America. For the project, the school will use a pollinator-friendly, locally-sourced seed mix including at least sixteen native wildflower species.
In addition to the environmental benefits, the most important element of having a native prairie restoration right on the school grounds, is the creation of an outdoor classroom that will provide endless learning opportunities for years to come.
St. Croix Prep’s Prairie Apprentices
St. Croix Prep will incorporate the prairie into education through activities and prairie ecosystems curriculum, including monitoring the native plants, butterflies, bluebirds and insect use of prairie. Students will build and monitor bluebird nesting boxes as part of a Girl Scout Golden Award project. Students will document seasonal changes in the prairie using a phenology board, and Upper School students will learn to use ArcGIS, a mapping software in project planning and monitoring.
St. Croix Prep is located on Upland Prairie which includes plants like Bluestems, Indian Grass, Needle and Gramma grasses, composites and other forbs. St. Croix Prep is also located near other prairies including the Inspiration Conservation Development, Wildlife Management Areas, Scientific and Natural Areas, and Permanent Conservation and Scenic Easements along the river, making it an ideal location for a prairie restoration project. Collectively, these areas create an excellent cluster of habitat for migrating birds, pollinators and other wildlife.
The prairie will need annual maintenance for the first few years. During year one and two, St. Croix Prep Conservation Committee will routinely inspect the sites, and they will have a prescribed burn every three to five years and integrated pest management as needed. Prairie restoration will take less routine maintenance once it is established.
To learn more about St. Croix Prep, visit stcroixprep.org or contact Amanda Jamison, Communications and Events Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Audubon Minnesota, contact Kristin Hall, Conservation Manager, email@example.com
This project would not have been possible without funding provided by the McKnight Foundation, Audubon Minnesota, the Washington County Chapter of Pheasants Forever and the Middle Saint Croix Watershed Management Organization. In-kind contributions and technical support has been provided by Miller Excavating Inc., the Bayport Fire Department, The Minnesota Washington Conservation District and EOR.
St. Croix Preparatory Academy is a K-12 charter school in the Stillwater area. Located on 59 acres of land, St. Croix Preparatory Academy’s educational philosophy is based on the classical methodology of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, an educational philosophy proven to achieve outstanding academic results.
Audubon Minnesota uses science, education, and advocacy to deliver conservation results by focusing on creating bird-friendly communities, protecting water for birds and people, and shaping a healthy climate. To learn more, visit mn.audubon.org.
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