One of the Institute’s most important assets in support of its mission to inspire appreciation and stewardship of our environment is its 742 acres of conserved land. Each year the Institute works to protect and preserve this resource to ensure a diverse and healthy ecosystem by removing invasive plant species and reintroducing native plants to the property. This results in the creation and preservation of a variety of habitats where local wildlife thrive and where visitors learn about, experience, and enjoy the many benefits of the natural world. The Institute’s Grow Native! project is an important aspect of this stewardship effort.
Over the years, Institute staff and volunteers have converted over 80 acres of fallow farmland into native prairie habitat. To increase awareness and understanding of the historical and environmental value of native plants and provide a highly visual example of the efforts taking place on more remote areas of the property, the Institute replaced the non-native grasses and invasive weeds on the Visitor Center berm with a native prairie planting in 2013. This was Phase I of the Grow Native! project. The Education Building berm was planted in 2015, and the parking lot berm was planted 2016 thereby completing Phases II and III, respectively. Native plants are part of our natural heritage, and it is important to ensure they are preserved for the health and enjoyment of future generations.
Be sure to check the Grow Native! Field Guide for a complete list of native plants in the Grow Native! prairie plantings.