By CELIA HARTMAN
The prairie at the West Carroll Middle School is a collaboration between the West Carroll FFA, West Carroll School District and Carroll County Pheasants Forever (CCPF).
The idea came from Mr. Brumbaugh, former superintendent, Dr. Greg Harmston, physician and a member of CCPF, and Jim Strauch, habitat director of the local Pheasants Forever chapter.
CCPF has placed a huge investment in the youth of Carroll County and we are starting to see the results of that investment. Many of the former scholarship winners still attend the banquet and many are valued members of the banquet committee.
CCPF felt this prairie was one more way they could bridge the huge gap between the land, community, and ninety percent of today's children. This has occurred due to migration to cities and an increase in farm sizes. Fewer and fewer children grow up on a farm, or are taught to fish or hunt.
For this particular prairie, CCPF members prepped the area to be planted by tilling and spraying the soil. Then, on Dec. 6, 2016, 50 seventh and eighth grade students from the agriculture classes frost seeded the one-acre prairie. Katie Kauzlarich, State Pheasants Forever Habitat biologist, and Chuck Quarnstrom, president of the CCPF, were present that day. The State Pheasants Forever organization provided half the seed and CCPF provided the other half.
A few of the forbes (flowers) you see blooming this summer include purple cone flower, gray headed cone flower, partridge peas, purple prairie clover, crimson clover, iron weed, black-eyed susans, and Illinois bundle flower.
The representatives from Pheasant Forever informed the students about what wildlife the prairie would draw. The main purpose of planting forbes, especially leguminous ones (a family of flowering plants that have pods), is to attract insects, specifically pollinators, multiple bee species, butterflies, and wasps. This pollinator plot is located 100 yards from the school building.
Many species of insects are also attracted to the prairie. Bee numbers and pollinators, especially honey bees and monarch butterflies, are on the decline and need the support of man-made prairies. All of the insects in the prairie are what attracts not just game birds, but all birds that are insectivorous. Even though the prairie is loaded with bees, they are happily doing their job and could care less about human activity in the prairie.
Students and the advisors spent time this summer weeding the plot. Carroll County Peasants Forever wants to thank the school district and all of those involved for their interest and support in the prairie project.