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School prairie made science come alive

School prairie made science come alive

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More than two decades ago I was asked to help clean and sort prairie seeds one evening after school.

At the time I remember thinking that I didn't want to get involved with another thing that demanded my time. That evening I met Margaret Hollowell, who in cooperation with the District 87 schools, Bloomington Parks and Recreation and the John Wesley Powell Audubon Society, was going to establish a speck of prairie at Stevenson School.

At that time I had no idea how much work Margaret would eventually put into the project and how much that effort would contribute to Stevenson School.

The prairie she established was remarkably diverse and alive. It was a showcase museum that housed our local natural history and the plant species that built on rich soils.

In the prairie one could observe the relationships between soil, plants, animals, water and air. Like a museum it could be experienced by an individual, a group, a family or an entire class.

Its accessibility to families and the community, as well as to the school, enhanced its worth.

Whenever I needed ideas or content for a visit to the prairie or for an off-site field trip, I could count on Margaret. She regularly served as an extra teacher for school groups going on field trips.

Margaret is one of those special people that our community is fortunate to have. One who puts knowledge and community before her own material comfort. As a community, we need to support the work of such people.

Scientific knowledge and scientific thinking need to be protected in our school settings.

Jack Muirhead

Bloomington

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