Members in Action: University of North Texas Student Association
Sunday, March 1, 2020
Posted by: Laura Capponi
The Pecan Creek Pollinative Prairie is a four-acre native Texas prairie reconstruction located on the University of North Texas Campus. Since 2016, the mission of the project has been to increase native plant and animal biodiversity on an urban university campus, while providing an outdoor educational experience and volunteer opportunities for any UNT student, staff, or faculty interested in ecological restoration and sustainable land use stewardship. We have documented a gain in over 200 species of native plants, insects, birds, reptiles, and fungi in the four-acre plot.
The UNT student SER Chapter has served as team leaders to mentor over 500 undergraduates that have volunteered over 1,000 hours to remove invasive grasses and forbs, grow plants in the greenhouse, seed with a native mix, and install over 8,200 nursery plants at the prairie. We now offer undergraduate lab field trips to teach the importance of native grasses and forbs, along with nesting birds, pollinating insects, and soil health. We are currently building a tool shed, educational flower beds, and educational/interactive signs to enhance outreach, as well as monitoring an American Kestrel nest box that has successfully been inhabited by a breeding pair. The Pollinative Prairie has already achieved recognition by Texan by Nature, former First Lady Laura Bush’s initiative and has been registered with Monarch Watch as a waystation and with the Xerces Society Million Pollinator Challenge. It is partnered with American Kestrel Partnership, UNT Bee Campus USA, and Texas Society for Ecological Restoration.
This project has two unique features: it has been 100% funded and built by undergraduates and it is interdisciplinary. Funding has been granted through the UNT We Mean Green Fund, which is made possible by the student body through their contributions to the Environmental Service Fee. Each student contributes $5 to the Environmental Service Fee during the spring and fall semesters to help reduce UNT's impact on the environment. The Pollinative Prairie has received $186,039 to date. Drs. Jaime Baxter-Slye (Biological Sciences) and Michael Thompson (Philosophy and Religion) are the faculty managers of the project, and Emily Bilcik is the coordinator of the WMGF. Additionally, Alicia Eggert and Heather Hoskins from the College of Visual Arts and Design coordinate their undergraduate students to construct artistic signs. For more information, please visit prairie.unt.edu and the University of North Texas Ecology Facebook page.
Contributor: Jaime L. Baxter-Slye M.S. Ph.D
Ecology and Environmental Science Laboratory Supervisor and Adjunct Lecturer
University of North Texas