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ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY STUDENTS VISIT WOLF ROAD PRAIRIE



On July 26, 2011, fifteen students from Roosevelt University and their teachers, Vicki McKinley, Biology Professor, and Thomas Engbrecht, Teaching Assistant, arrived at Wolf Road Prairie for the field trip session of their Tallgrass Prairie class.

The class was a one-week intensive study course in the lab and in the field. Students were responsible for learning the Latin name, common name, family and the monocot/dicot status of 30 prairie plants.

Valerie Spale, Salt Creek Greenway Association (SCGA), was on hand to greet the students and provide a brief history of the prairie and how the prairie was preserved by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC) over a period of years.

John Elliott, Education Manager, FPDCC, spoke to the students about the three ecosystems at Wolf Road Prairie (savanna, prairie and wetland) and then led the students into the preserve to begin plant identification of the 30 species students were expected to learn in the field. Some of the plants were in peak bloom. Others could only be identified by their leaves following the end of their blooming cycles.



As plants were identified in the field, students were required to record the Latin name and common name as well as additional information about the plant on their answer sheets. They were also instructed to record additional information such as family name, whether the plant is a monocot or a dicot and other important facts to be discussed in class in preparation for the Tallgrass Prairie exam.

In addition to plant identification, students learned a little about the insects and birds of the prairie and why it is important to preserve natural areas as habitat for wildlife. Monarch butterflies were seen migrating through and a red-tailed hawk circled overhead for students to observe.

For a list of selected Tallgrass Prairie plants the class was asked to identify, click here. (This file is 7.4mb)

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