Iowa’s Cool – Except When It’s Hot

The run-up to the Iowa caucuses is when all the presidential candidates remind us how cool they think Iowa is. (At least they say Iowa is cool, but we can’t be sure that the latter signifies the former.) Bernie Sanders said so four or five times on Thursday at a rally in Central Park in Grinnell. To justify the title of this essay, let me note that he also commented on the heat (it was 90 F) in the context of advocating for universal health care, suspecting that some of his audience were going to suffer heat strokes.

NEW “Where the Hell Is Grinnell?” T-shirt

An earlier T-shirt’s answer to that question -- “Who the Hell Cares?” -– not only belittled the College’s location but offended many people in the community.  Martha Orlet ’15 and Aaron Juarez ’15 wanted to create an alternative shirt with a better answer. Martha and Aaron, board members of the Center for Prairie Studies, proposed the idea to the full board. Several conversations and artistic designs later, we are pleased to offer an alternative “Where the Hell is Grinnell?” T-shirt.

The Relativity of Weeds

A distressing column about dramatic reductions in the population of monarch butterflies ran on the front page of the Des Moines Register recently (August 29, 2014). Among other things, the story reported a steady decline over the last two decades in the number of monarchs observed in one of the principal sites in Michoacán to which monarchs from the United States migrate for the winter. In 1996, the overwintering butterflies covered 45 acres in this location, whereas last year they covered only 1.7 acres.

Welcome Elizabeth Hill - Outreach Coordinator for the Center and Manager of CERA

The Center for Prairie Studies is delighted to welcome Elizabeth Hill to the college as the new Outreach Coordinator for the Center and manager of the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA). Elizabeth began her employment on March 1 and has moved into Larissa Mottl's former office, #204 Macy House (1205 Park Street). We hired Elizabeth in December, about the time she finished the coursework for her M.S.

The Fair Field of Sustainability

Some very interesting things are happening with regard to sustainability down in Fairfield, Iowa, as members of my Intentional Communities class and I discovered during a visit there in late April.  Fairfield has 9,500 inhabitants – just about the size of Grinnell –and is the county seat of Jefferson County.   The imposing 1891 stone and brick county courthouse, with an outsized bell tower, is situated in a picturesque town square and conveys the impression of quintessential small town Iowa. However, a drive around the community quickly dispels that notion, since Fairfield is also home to M

Good-bye, Larissa

It is with deep regret that the Center for Prairie Studies bids farewell to Larissa Mottl, Outreach Coordinator for the Center and manager of the college's Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA) for the Biology Department for the last dozen years. Larissa has accepted an almost too-good-to-be-true position with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in St.

Professor to Student to Professor

The Center for Prairie Studies recently acquired a new work of art for its collection: a pastel by Rachel Melis, '01, called "The CERA Prairie." The work was donated to the Center by Tor Janson, also '01. Rachel was an early supporter of the Center during her student years, and we were delighted to add this work to our collection, not only because it was done at the college's Conard Environmental Research Area, a place closely connected to the Center's mission, but also because Rachel did it while she was a student at Grinnell.

Librarian of the College Richard Fyffe poses beside the new life-size photograph of Compass Plant now hanging in Burling Library

The Center for Prairie Studies and the Grinnell College Libraries have collaborated in the installation of two dramatic eighteen-foot tall photographs of prairie plants on the east and west walls of the first floor of Burling Library (south side). Created by The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, these photographs portray not only the above-ground portion of the plants but also their astonishing root systems.