The Student-grown Iowa Native Species Garden
Iowa is home to some of the most endangered ecosystems in the world: tallgrass prairie and oakhill savannah. The plants that once inhabited Iowa’s landscapes are now considered native Iowa species, and they are the constituents of these endangered ecosystems. The vast majority of tallgrass prairie and oak savannah has been destroyed as a result of current agricultural practices and invasive species. As a result, the original Iowa landscape exists mostly in sparse protected areas. This project will engage University of Iowa students in the process of growing a garden of 100% native Iowa species from seeds. The intention of this process is to increase the level of environmental consciousness in the participants; the gardening process from seed to seedling to full-grown plant inspired a level of intimacy that will bring participants closer to native plants, pollinators, and animals of Iowa. From there, a discussion can be fostered about the processes that shrink ecosystems and why preservation is a priority of environmental scientists, ecologists, and hopefully all civilians.