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Center for Prairie Studies

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PRAIRIE_STUDIES

About the Center

Mission

The Center for Prairie Studies promotes understanding of and connection to our place and its people.

The Center’s mission is to stimulate a broad understanding of nature and culture in the tallgrass prairie region, of how and why the region has changed over time, and of the challenges it faces today. Beyond seeking understanding, we are interested in cultivating a “sense of place” and in the goal of living sustainably in place. We encourage the Grinnell community to engage in responsible action toward that end.

Grass Workshop

The Grass Workshop at Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA) will consist of intensive, hands-on learning guided by one of Iowa’s top botanists, Dr. Thomas Rosburg. Field-based identification blended with classroom lectures, guided examination of live and pressed plant specimens, and use of technical identification keys will help participants gain practical knowledge of grasses. Participants will learn the language of grasses, the distinguishing features of the grass family, its major taxonomic subdivisions, and many grass genera and species, as well as the habits and ecology of common and rare members of the Poaceae family.

The Grass Workshop will take place at the 365-acre Grinnell College Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA), near Kellogg, in Jasper County. Morning sessions will take place in the Environmental Education Center and focus on (1) learning and identifying characteristics on sample specimens and (2) using dichotomous keys. Half-day field sessions will involve identification practice in restored and reconstructed prairies at CERA and prairie remnants and old fields at the Reichelt Unit of Rock Creek State, located west of Grinnell and close to CERA.

Dr. Thomas Rosburg (aka “Draceae”), Professor of Ecology and Botany in the Biology and Environmental Science and Policy Departments at Drake University, teaches numerous courses in ecology, limnology, botany, biological research and statistics, natural history and nature photography and regularly incorporates field trips in his classes to enhance learning opportunities. He often teaches summer courses at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory located near Spirit Lake, Iowa, and leads identification workshops across the state. Dr. Rosburg has served as President of the Iowa Academy of Science and on the Board of Directors for The Nature Conservancy, as well as an adviser or member on many conservation and science-oriented committees. Dr. Rosburg lives on a small farm, where he and his wife practice self-sufficient living raising livestock, fruits and vegetables. He has three children and one grandchild, and Tom’s hobbies include camping, backpacking, climbing, running, nature photography, reading and watching the Packers.

See the Grass Workshop 2016 brochure (pdf) for more information and registration information. Contact Elizabeth Hill with questions.

Sponsored by:

Art Projects

Prairie Cairn

Andy Goldsworthy: Three Cairns is the largest project in the Western Hemisphere by British artist Andy Goldsworthy (born 1956, Cheshire, England). The project spans the continent with permanent and temporary stone markers called “cairns” at sites on the two coasts of America and the Midwest. Two key components of the project in Iowa Prairie Cairn (Midwest temporary cairn) near Grinnell and the Three Cairns (Iowa permanent cairn) at the Des Moines Art Center.

For the Love of Food

From a young age, Ami Freeberg ’10 was in touch with where her food came from. “I grew up in Fairfield, Iowa, and there were a lot of people running sustainable farms there,” says Freeberg. “My mom fed us organic food from our garden and my sister, my mom, and I even set up a kind of farm-to-table café at the farmer’s market while we were in high school.”

This love of good food and interest in agriculture led her to pursue an internship with Cultivate Kansas City (formerly known as the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture) during her second year summer at Grinnell. She got funding from the Center for Prairie Studies so that she would be able to afford an unpaid internship. As it turns out, that experience was hugely important for her future.

Getting Her Hands Dirty

“I just fell in love with the organization and the work,” Freeberg says. “I had known I was interested in food and sustainable farming, but that internship really solidified those interests.”

As an intern, Freeberg worked on a program called New Roots for Refugees, a partnership between Cultivate Kansas City and Charities of Northeast Kansas to help refugees learn the skills necessary to establish successful farm businesses in the Kansas City area.

“We were working with people from all over the world who were resettled refugees, and they came with a lot of knowledge and experience in farming but didn’t have access to land or resources,” Freeberg says. “So we provided land and training and support to help them gain the skills they needed to graduate off of our training farm and start their own farm businesses.”

After graduating from Grinnell, Freeberg began working full time for Cultivate Kansas City as a program assistant. Over the years, she has transitioned into a variety of roles focusing on community outreach and communications in the organization. In February, she began working as the community organizer for the organization’s most recent project, the Westport Commons Farm, which is set to open in the next few years.

Cultivating the City Center

The Westport Commons Farm will be run as a farm business but will also have many opportunities for community engagement, participation, and education. The farm will be in the city center of Kansas City, Mo., in a field that used to belong to a school.

“It’s really exciting because we’re putting urban agriculture right in a highly visible place, in the middle of the city,” says Freeberg. “Our vision is to create a beautiful urban farm that gets people thinking about their food and gets them engaged with where their food is coming from.”

Because of the organization’s pursuit of this vision, Freeberg has thoroughly enjoyed working for Cultivate Kansas City for the past six years. “It’s always interesting and different. I’ve been able to progress and learn and develop my own skills in a context that I feel is really important,” Freeberg says.

“I have always valued good food. I think it’s the foundation of being a healthy, happy person, and I want other people to be able to experience that.”

Woodland Wildflower Hike at CERA

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 - 4:45pm to 6:15pm

 

Join CERA Manager Elizabeth Hill on a 1.5 mile spring ephemeral wildflower hike at CERA. Wear sturdy walking shoes and long pants to explore the spring ephemeral wildflowers at CERA!

Van leaves from Rosenfield Center drop-off zone at 4:15 p.m. Hike starts 4:45 p.m. at CERA, meet at Environmental Education Center.

Email Elizabeth Hill to reserve transportation.

Fracking Our Land

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101

Panel of writers, thinkers, environmentalists to discuss fracking on April 19
Conversation will be based on first anthology of creative writing that explores fracking

A panel of four Iowa-based writers, editors, thinkers and environmentalists will discuss "Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America," the country's first anthology of creative writing that explores hydraulic fracking, at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, at Grinnell College.

Debra Marquart, Carolyn Raffensperger, Frederick Kirschenmann and Taylor Brorby will all read their work from the anthology and explore impacts of hydraulic fracking on Iowa.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place in room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell.

Marquart is a professor of English at Iowa State University, teaching in the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing and Environment. The author of a memoir, "The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere" and two poetry collections, she has received numerous honors for her work, including John Guyon Nonfiction Award, the Mid-American Review Nonfiction Award, a New York Times Editor's Choice commendation and a 2008 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Prose Fellowship.

Raffensperger is an environmental lawyer specializing in the changes in law and policy necessary to address climate change and preserve public health and the environment. She is executive director of the Science and Environmental Health network, and has edited three comprehensive volumes on the precautionary principle of environmental law. Her work has been featured in Gourmet magazine, the Utne Reader, Yes! Magazine, the Sun, Whole Earth and Scientific American.

A national expert in sustainable agriculture, Kirschenmann is a family farmer, writer and scholar on ecology. He has held numerous appointments, including U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Standards Board and the National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. His farm has been featured in numerous publications, including National Geographic, Business Week, Audubon and Gourmet magazine, for its diverse crop rotation and productivity without using synthetic inputs. His book, "Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher," traces the evolution of his ecological and farming philosophy over the past 30 years.

The editor of "Fracture," Taylor Brorby is an award-winning essayist, poet and environmentalist. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University. His work has been featured in "Rock, Paper, Scissors," "The Englewood Review of Books," on Minnesota Public Radio, North Dakota Public Radio and in numerous newspapers. A talented writer himself, he is currently working on two poetry collections, one related to the Bakken oil boom and the other about the Adirondacks in upstate New York, as well as an essay collection about western North Dakota.

Sponsoring the event are the Center for Prairie Studies and Environmental Studies.

Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America

A panel of four Iowa-based writers, editors, thinkers, and environmentalists will discuss Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America, the country's first anthology of creative writing that explores hydraulic fracturing, at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. The discussion is free and open to the public.

Debra Marquart, Carolyn Raffensperger, Frederick Kirschenmann, and Taylor Brorby will all read their work from the anthology and explore impacts of hydraulic fracking on Iowa.

The Center for Prairie Studies and the Environmental Studies Concentration are sponsoring the event.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from Conference Operations and Events.

Debra Marquart

Marquart is a professor of English at Iowa State University, teaching in the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing and Environment. The author of a memoir, The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere and two poetry collections, she has received numerous honors for her work, including John Guyon Nonfiction Award, the Mid-American Review Nonfiction Award, a New York Times Editor's Choice commendation, and a 2008 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Prose Fellowship.

Carolyn Raffensperger

Raffensperger is an environmental lawyer specializing in the changes in law and policy necessary to address climate change and preserve public health and the environment. She is executive director of the Science and Environmental Health network, and has edited three comprehensive volumes on the precautionary principle of environmental law. Her work has been featured in Gourmet magazine, the Utne Reader, Yes! Magazine, the Sun, Whole Earth, and Scientific American.

Frederick Kirschenmann

A national expert in sustainable agriculture, Kirschenmann is a family farmer, writer, and scholar on ecology. He has held numerous appointments, including director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. He also has served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Standards Board and the National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. His farm has been featured in numerous publications, including National Geographic, Business Week, Audubon, and Gourmet magazine, for its diverse crop rotation and productivity without using synthetic inputs. His book, Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher, traces the evolution of his ecological and farming philosophy over the past 30 years.

Taylor Brorby

The editor of Fracture, Taylor Brorby is an award-winning essayist, poet and environmentalist. He is currently pursuing his masters of fine arts in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University. His work has been featured on Minnesota Public Radio and North Dakota Public Radio and in numerous newspapers. A talented writer himself, he is currently working on two poetry collections, one related to the Bakken oil boom and the other about the Adirondacks in upstate New York, as well as an essay collection about western North Dakota.

Celebrate the Earth

Grinnell College will host a series of events throughout April and early May in celebration of Earth Month. The free, public events will be focused on local food, creativity, volunteering, and exploration.

The events will take place throughout the campus and city, with a focus toward "getting rooted in the community." Featured events include Fred Magdoff’s lecture “Capitalism and Agriculture” on April 11, the National Water Dance on April 16, and the Eco Fair on April 23.

Some events will take place off-campus at Arbor Lake Park and the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA), including a lake cleanup and woodland wildflower hike. Free transportation is provided from Grinnell's campus to these events. RSVP to Elizabeth Hill  for transportation.

Calendar of Events

Local Food

Monday, April 11

Fred Magdoff

4 p.m. Noyce 1022 (Roundtable)

7:30 p.m. Joe Rosenfield ‘25 Center, Room 101 (Public Talk)

Fred Magdoff, Professor Emeritus of Soils at the University of Vermont, will give a roundtable on “Soil and Soil Health” and a public talk on “Capitalism and Agriculture.”

Saturday, April 16

Spring Fest

Noon-4 p.m. Ecohouse

Join Ecohouse members for a celebration of spring, local foods, music, and community. Explore Ecohouse’s environmental projects and take part in seed planting. Enjoy live music from student performers, springtime crafting, and more!

Wednesday, April 20

Richard Oppenlander

7:15 p.m. ARH Auditorium, Room 302

Consultant and researcher Richard Oppenlander, author of Food Choice and Sustainability, will guide the audience through a fact-filled journey of the food choice-animal agriculture-environment connection, revealing why humanity is currently on a path of pseudo-sustainability.

Friday, April 29

Food For Thought May Day Celebration

5-8:30 p.m. Cleveland Beach

Join members of Grinnell College’s Food For Thought group to celebrate early May Day. Bring a dish to the potluck and enjoy face-painting, music, and a discussion about campus food activism. Come and find out what Food For Thought is doing to increase the amount of “real food“ on campus!

Creativity

Saturday, April 16

National Water Dance

3 p.m. CERA

Join campus and community dancers and musicians in celebrating the importance of water in our lives.

Email Jan Graham to reserve transportation. Van leaves the Rosenfield Center drop-off zone at 2:15 p.m., and Mayflower Community at 2:25 p.m.. If driving on your own, meet at CERA’s Environmental Education Center at 2:50 p.m.

Monday, April 18

Site-Specific Studio Critique

1­–4 p.m. CERA

Join Professor Lee Emma Running and her Site Specific Studio class for the critique of their place-based art installations at CERA. Student art installations explore how we connect to the Iowa landscape.

Email Elizabeth Hill to reserve transportation

Wednesday, April 20

Ecohouse Movie Night

9 p.m. Bob’s Underground Café

Join Ecohouse members to watch The Secret Life of Plants, a 1979 documentary based on the book of the same name. The film features time-lapse photography of plants and fungi growing and an original score by musician Stevie Wonder.

Friday, April 22

20 Minutes @ 11: Culling the Herd

11 a.m. Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Faulconer Gallery/Room 131

Explore our human relationship to white-tailed deer with Professor Lee Emma Running, who will present her recent project “Cure” in which she carves and gilds the bones of roadkill, and CERA Manager Elizabeth Hill, who will provide background on deer management in Iowa.

Learn

April 12 and 14

Undergraduate Research Symposium

11 a.m.-1 p.m. Rosenfield Center, various locations

Undergraduate research panel and poster presentations include many student talks on local and global environmental and food justice topics. Arrive at 11 a.m. to grab a free lunch and full presentation schedule.

Panel presentations in Rosenfield Center, Rooms 202, 203, 209, 225-227

Poster session in Rosenfield Center, Room 101

Tuesday, April 19

Fracture: Essays Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America

7:30 p.m. Rosenfield Center, Room 101

Join Taylor Brorby (ed.) and Iowa-based writers and thinkers Debra Marquart, Carolyn Raffensperger, and Frederick Kirschenmann for a book reading and question and answer session on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Saturday, April 23

The Power is Ours!, Spiritual Reflections on Earth Day

12:30 p.m. Grinnell United Church of Christ

Join UCC members in welcoming Grinnell College faculty Liz Queathem and David Campbell, together with Associate Chaplain and Rabbi Rob Cabelli, who explore spiritual connections to Earth Day and climate change.

Thursday, April 28

Ecofeminist Organizing Workshop

4-5:30 p.m. ARH 102

Learn about inclusive organizing with two extraordinary activists! Join Bakken Resistance Pipeline Coalition co-founders and Women Food and Agriculture Network board members Ahna Kruzic and Dr. Angie Carter for a workshop on ecofeminist activism and organizing.

Explore

Saturday, April 23

Eco Fair

11 a.m.–1 p.m. Rosenfield Center, 1st floor and outdoor patio

SEC and Off-the-Grid students will present posters and demonstrations on topics pertaining to sustainable and off-the-grid living, including the tiny home movement, water sanitation and heating, backcountry camping tips, permaculture, urban gardening, and composting toilets.

Sunday, April 24

Arbor Lake Cleanup

2 p.m. Arbor Lake Park, 123 Pearl Street

Join IOWATER club in removing waste and beautifying Arbor Lake Park. Be prepared to get dirty, please wear rain boots and old clothes.

Email IOWATER to register.

Meet at GORP room in Harris Center or at Arbor Lake Park.

Tuesday, April 26

Woodland Wildflower Hike

4:15-6:15 p.m. CERA

Join CERA Manager Elizabeth Hill on a 1.5 mile spring ephemeral wildflower hike at CERA.

Wear sturdy walking shoes. Hike starts 4:45 p.m. at CERA.

Van leaves from Rosenfield Center drop-off zone at 4:15 p.m. Email Elizabeth Hill to reserve transportation

Saturday, May 7

Tallgrass Audubon Bird Banding

8 a.m.-noon Bob and Connie VanErsvelde’s house

Join members of the Tallgrass Audubon Society to learn about bird banding and the natural history of migratory birds. Families welcome!

Van leaves from Rosenfield Center drop-off zone

Email Elizabeth Hill for transportation or address

Event Sponsors

Center for Prairie Studies, CERA, Environmental Studies, Faulconer Gallery, Peace and Conflict Studies, Food for Thought, Iowater, Student Environmental Committee, Ecohouse, Poweshiek County SWCD, Advancing Animal Compassion Together, Student Government Association.

Celebrate the Earth During April - May 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016 - 4:00pm to Saturday, May 7, 2016 - 12:00pm

Grinnell College will host a series of events throughout April and early May in celebration of Earth Month. The free, public events will be focused on local food, creativity, volunteering and exploration.

Monday, April 11

Fred Magdoff
4:00 PM Roundtable - Noyce 1022
7:30 PM Public Talk - Joe Rosenfield ‘25 Center 101

Fred Magdoff, Professor Emeritus of Soils at the University of Vermont, will give a roundtable, Soil and Soil Health at 4:00pm in Noyce 1022; and a public talk, Capitalism and Agriculture, at 7:30pm in JRC 101.

Tuesday, April 12 and Thursday, April 14
Undergraduate Research Symposium
11:00 AM-1:00PM, Joe Rosenfield ‘25 Center, various locations

Undergraduate research panel and poster presentations include many student talks on local and global environmental and food justice topics. Arrive at 11:00am to grab a free lunch and full presentation schedule.   Panel presentations in JRC rooms: 202, 203, 209, 225-227. Poster/performance sessions in JRC 101.

Saturday, April 16           

Spring Fest
12:00-4:00 PM, Ecohouse

Join Ecohouse members for a celebration of spring, local foods, music, and community. Explore Ecohouse’s environmental projects and take part in seed planting. Enjoy live music from student performers, springtime crafting, and more!

Saturday, April 16                

National Water Dance
3:00 PM, Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA)

Join Grinnell College and community dancers and         musicians in celebrating the importance of water in our lives through music and dance.

RSVP to Jan Graham grahamj[at]grinnell[dot]edu. Van leaves JRC drop-off zone at 2:15pm, and Mayflower Community at 2:25pm. If driving on your own, meet at EEC at 2:50pm

Monday, April 18             

Site-Specific Studio Critique
1:00-4:00 PM, Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA)

Join Professor Lee Emma Running and her ART320 - Site Specific Studio students for the critique of their place-based art installations at CERA. Student art installations explore how we connect to the Iowa landscape.  RSVP to hilleliz[at]grinnell[dot]edu for transportation.

Tuesday, April 19

Fracture: Essays Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America
7:30 PM, Joe Rosenfield ‘25 Center 101

Join Taylor Brorby (ed.) and Iowa-based writers and thinkers - Debra Marquart, Carolyn Raffensperger, and Frederick Kirschenmann for a book reading and Q&A session on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Wednesday, April 20                  

Richard Oppenlander
7:15 PM, ARH 302

Consultant and researcher Richard Oppenlander, author of “Food Choice and Sustainability” will guide the audience through a fact filled journey of the food choice-animal agriculture-environment connection, revealing why humanity is currently on a path of pseudo-sustainability.

Wednesday, April 20                

Ecohouse Movie Night
9:00 PM, Bob’s Underground Cafe

Join Ecohouse members to watch “The Secret Life of Plants,” a 1979 documentary based on the book of the same name. The film features time-lapse photography of plants and fungi growing and original score by musician Stevie Wonder.

Friday, April 22

20 Minutes @ 11: Culling the Herd
11:00 AM, Bucksbaum 131 - Faulconer Gallery

Explore our human relationship to white-tailed deer with Professor Lee Emma Running, who will present her recent project “Cure” in which she carves and gilds the bones of roadkill, and CERA Manager Elizabeth Hill, who will provide background on deer management in Iowa.

Saturday, April 23
The Power is Ours! Spiritual Reflections on Earth Day
12:30 PM, Grinnell United Church of Christ

Join UCC members in welcoming Grinnell College faculty Liz Queathem and David Campbell, together with Associate Chaplain and Rabbi Rob Cabelli, who explore spiritual connections to Earth Day and Climate Change.

Saturday, April 23

Eco Fair
11:00 AM-1:00 PM, Joe Rosenfield ‘25 Center, 1st floor and outdoor patio

SEC and Off-the-Grid students will present posters and demonstrations on topics pertaining to sustainable and off-the-grid living, including the tiny home movement,  water sanitation and heating, backcountry camping tips, permaculture, urban gardening, and composting toilets.

Sunday, April 24

Arbor Lake Cleanup
2:00 PM, Arbor Lake Park, 123 Pearl Street

Join IOWATER club in removing waste and beautifying Arbor Lake Park. Be prepared to get dirty, please wear rain boots and old clothes. RSVP to Iowater[at]grinnell[dot]edu. Meet at GORP room in Harris Center or at Arbor Lake Park

Tuesday, April 26

Woodland Wildflower Hike
4:15 - 6:15 PM, Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA)

Join CERA Manager Elizabeth Hill on a 1.5 mile spring ephemeral wildflower hike at CERA. Wear sturdy walking shoes. Hike starts 4:45pm at CERA. Van leaves from JRC drop-off zone at 4:15 P.M. RSVP to hilleliz[at]grinnell[dot]edu for transportation.

Thursday, April 28            

Ecofeminist Organizing Workshop
4:00-5:30 PM, ARH 102
Learn about inclusive organizing with two extraordinary activists! Join Bakken Resistance Pipeline Coalition co-founders and Women Food and Agriculture Network board members Ahna Kruzic and Dr. Angie Carter for a workshop on ecofeminist activism and organizing.

Friday, April 29                              

Food For Thought May Day Celebration
5:00-8:00 PM, Cleve Beach

Join members of Grinnell College’s Food For Thought group to celebrate early May Day. Bring a dish to the potluck and enjoy face-painting, music, and a discussion about campus food activism. Come and find out what Food For Thought is doing to increase the amount of “real food“ on campus!

Saturday, May 7

Tallgrass Audubon Bird Banding
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Bob and Connie VanErsvelde’s house

Join members of the Tallgrass Audubon Society to learn about bird banding and the natural history of migratory birds. Families welcome! Van leaves from JRC drop-off zone. RSVP to hilleliz[at]grinnell[dot]edu for transportation or address

Sponsored by: Center for Prairie Studies, CERA, Environmental Studies, Faulconer Gallery, Peace and Conflict Studies, Food for Thought, Iowater, Student Environmental Committee, Ecohouse, Poweshiek County SWCD, Advancing Animal Compassion Together, Student Government Association.