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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Plano Senior High School, Plano, Texas, USA

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Plano Senior High School, Plano, Texas, USA
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gh7506



Registered: December 2019
City/Town/Province: Mckinney
Posts: 1
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My relationship with nature is something that has evolved with me as I have grown. I am told that as an infant, nature calmed me. I would fuss so much that my parents would take me outside where I would instantly cease crying and instead, stare up and around in wonder. The summers of my elementary years would find me in my local wilderness camp, learning how to identify poison ivy, venomous and non-venomous snakes, and native butterflies. My family vacationed every year to varying national parks. Completing junior ranger programs at each park and monument, I learned of the National Park Service's history, soil types, geological formations, and the importance of protecting our parks. I was raised to appreciate nature, to value and protect our National Parks, and to be curious about all that I had not yet explored.
The summer of sophomore year, I read a book that changed my life. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, opened my eyes to the relationship that Native Americans share with the Earth and the wisdom within indigenous traditions. I understand now that I have a responsibility to the Earth, to everything around me, to protect it. To some, it sounds crazy, I know. But this feeling I have insists that I not let a moment go by without considering the gift- the blessing- I have been given. To live on such a beautiful planet, with such perfection in its nature, is amazing. But I cannot sit back from afar and watch this gift disappear and do nothing. I must be the change I want to see. As Dr. Suess says, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to change. It's not". The future of the Earth rests with me and others of my generation to save what we love. Can we recognize the amazing gift that the earth has given us? And can we go beyond recognition to mirror the earth's reciprocity? I realize that to show my love and care of the environment, I must be involved and contribute to the well-being of the planet. The Earth has plenty and offers abundantly her harvest. It's time for me to give back. So I have started within my community, attempting to bring back the native Blackland Prairie. And I have considered this scholarship opportunity because I aim to pursue ecology in the future and I hope that through my actions, I have already begun to learn from my experiences.
Last year, I noticed that my school campus lacked biodiversity despite having an abundance of land. Non-native trees line large swathes of bermuda grass and invasives and further from the campus, buffalo grass covers the sports fields. Seeing the hardy, native buffalo grass, I considered what else could be added to restore the land to its original way. I reached out to the Associate Principal of Student Activities and Facilities at Plano Senior High School in Plano, Texas and presented possible solutions. After considering the ecosystem and possible locations, I settled on reintroducing the Blackland Prairie to the outskirts of the high school softball diamond.
Over the summer I received expert guidance from naturalists who, interested in my project, kindly offered to help. With their help, it was determined that the soil is medium moist clay and caliche, and the plot receives full sunlight and medium rainfall. From there, I ordered a seed pack, the Lady Bird's Legacy Wildflower Mix, with a collection of annual and perennial Texas native species. Texas Bluebonnets, Indian Blanket, Lemon Mint, Plains Coreopsis, Black-eyed Susans, Purple Coneflower, Texas Bluebells, Prairie Verbena, and Annual winecup will blanket the field, along with grasses, which I plan to seed in the spring.
In the fall, I enlisted the help of National Honor Society members to help weed out the invasive King Ranch Bluestem grass and to create seed balls of annual and perennial natives. Leaving the buffalo grass, we planted the seed balls and are waiting for the spring to analyze the success rate of my project. So far, I can already identify bluebonnets, bluebells and winecup rosettes all through the plot. Every other day, I visit the plot, checking for more growth. Each time, I am astounded by the natural beauty of these endangered natives and how united I feel with the fellow students who helped make it possible. Other students have become invested in this project and look forward to its growth. I hope that in the future it can become a place where students and other members of the community can go to find peace and hope in the future of the Earth.
I am also conducting research at Oak Point Park and Preserve to see what method of eradication -prescribed burn, spot burn, or solarization- removes King Ranch Bluestem most effectively. Based on my findings, I will be able to implement the most effective method onto my plot at the school and clear out more room for native species. This project has inspired me and confirmed that this passion of mine is indeed one that will become my career. By creating this pocket prairie, I hope to remind the community of its role in the world and to inspire other students like me who want to make a difference in a tangible way.
Date: December 31, 2019 Views: 25 File size: 27.5kb, 2815.1kb : 4032 x 3024
Hours Volunteered: 100
Volunteers: 40
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 15 to 55
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 0.4
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