All about prairie conservation efforts in Central Illinois

Jun 17, 2009

Virtual Tour of a Pocket Prairie

This “Pocket Prairie” slide show was inspired by a grade school teacher who around Earth Day time wanted to engage her kindergarten class an environmental project that would elicit awareness and give the children some feeling of empowerment.

The class was encouraged to write a poem and draw a picture about the environment. A journal was created from each of the contributions. The “Poet’s World of Nature” Journal was sold to friends and relatives and brought in $180. Then a class decision had to be made as to how the money would be spent. It was decided that $100 would be given to a nature center for the care of turtle and $80 would be invested in prairie preservation. These were topics with which the children were familiar. The teacher had visited the pocket prairie and she suggested that a contribution to that prairie would be a good expenditure. The teacher asked if we could put the $80 to use. The answer was “Yes”. The money could help to maintain the site and develop teaching materials. A field trip to the prairie would have been helpful but the end of the year was too near. A classroom introduction to the prairie was suggested.

The thought occurred that it might be possible to develop a simulated field trip using digital photography and projection. That was an ambitious project. We took an early version of a simulated field trip to the classroom, where the children met me as the “Prairie Monk”. The children and their teacher were wonderful. The programmed field trip was not as successful as we had hoped for a number of technical reasons but the inspiration was there. That inspiration has encouraged us to continue to upgrade the initial slide show to the point where we now have a DVD field trip that can also be accessed on the internet if the computer equipment is relatively modern. The $80 has helped us to achieve this goal. More than that the project has encouraged us to use the Pocket Prairie field trip as a prototype for other simulated field trips. In reality the contribution has empowered the children and their teacher much more they may realize. We thank the class for its involvement and hope you, the viewer, will enjoy the Pocket Prairie field trip with the knowledge of how it came about.

YouTube video (in two parts):

Higher-quality version on Vimeo (may not work on slower computers or connections):

A Virtual Tour of a Pocket Prairie from Dave Monk on Vimeo.

Jun 16, 2009

Prairie Burn

The caption reads, "Area resident and prairie conservationist David Monk sets a spring fire at a prairie restoration site in Arcola, Ill., Sunday. Prairie fires occur regularly in nature and help by releasing seeds, clearing weeds and heating the ground." —Daily Illini, 10 Aug. 2007.