Students in Houston Plant Pocket Prairie
HOUSTON (April 28, 2015) – Frostwood Elementary School students today planted a piece of history on the Tiger Prairie, the school’s own on-campus pocket prairie, which was developed with the assistance of the Katy Prairie Conservancy’s (KPC) Prairie Builder Schools program. They were joined by faculty and parents in the ceremony commemorating San Jacinto Day.
In 2014, Bee Balm (a native mint) and Virginia Wildrye seeds from the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site were collected and conserved by KPC’s Conservation Education Director Jaime Gonzalez, with permission from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Natural Resource Coordinator Andrew Sipocz. The Bee Balm was grown with the intent for it to be replanted in April 2015 at a Prairie Builder School, while the Wildrye seeds would be sown at the same time.
These activities were to coincide with the anniversary month of the Battle of San Jacinto, in which Texas won its independence from Mexico. Frostwood Elementary School, which became a Prairie Builder School in 2014, was chosen for this honor. TPWD manages the Battleground site and is in a multi-year effort to restore the battleground back to native coastal prairie conditions that existed in 1836, when it was an open prairie comprised of several species of tall grasses and plants.
Frostwood students, parents, faculty and the neighboring community are committed to conservation and preservation on their campus through the Frostwood Tiger Prairie and other “green” efforts. As these groups tend the prairie, they can observe and study grasses and flowers that provide critical habitat for migratory birds, other wildlife and insects, including pollinators. They now have a unique historical connection to Texas history with the planting and sowing of these San Jacinto Battleground species.
The 1000-square foot Frostwood Tiger Prairie has more than 30 species of plants, grasses and flowers, including Texas Bluebonnet, Rattlesnake Master, Silkgrass, Indian Paintbrush, Green Milkweed and now Bee Balm. Curriculum will be developed to tie in history, science, art and mathematics for the fall 2015 semester. Today’s event is an opportunity to celebrate Texas history, as well as ecology, on this Spring Branch Independent School District campus.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the Prairie Builder Schools program and to be chosen for the San Jacinto commemorative planting,” says Ellen Green, Frostwood Elementary School Principal. “The Frostwood Tiger Prairie has been a wonderful addition to our campus and provides a hands-on educational tool for our students and parent volunteers, as well as engaging them in the natural environment.”
The idea to return a piece of land to a natural state as a native Texas prairie began during the re-building of Frostwood Elementary in 2012. At the time, the Katy Prairie Conservancy was teaching the Frostwood Green Tigers about the Texas Prairie. They learned that their school sat atop what was once a diverse prairie grassland. After demolition of the building, it was easier to imagine the beautiful grasses, native flowers, butterflies and insects that the now-empty site once attracted. The idea was born to return part of the school’s landscape to its original prairie state; thus planning for the Frostwood Tiger Prairie began.
The Katy Prairie Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving an ecologically vital tallgrass prairie and associated wetlands area on Houston's far west side for the enjoyment and benefit of all. KPC’s Prairie Builder Schools program now counts 15 schools in four Houston-area school districts, including elementary, middle and high schools. The nonprofit also helps oversee urban pocket prairies, such as those at Buffalo Bayou Park and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Contact: Carol Brejot, 713-503-3885, firstname.lastname@example.org