L-W East Students and Teachers Spearhead Prairie Preservation for Outdoor Classroom
Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lincoln-Way High School teachers, students and community volunteers spearheaded a plan to preserve and relocate native prairie plants for use as an outdoor classroom at Lincoln-Way East. With the guidance of East Science teachers Julie and Ross Widinski, senior Armando Terrones helped lead the charge to construct the prairie.

Since last May, more than 500 plants were relocated to the prairies new destination near the tennis courts at East. The prairie relocation plan was managed by Lincoln-Ways Biology staff to relocate plants, signs, benches and other structures to new prairies at Lincoln-Way Central, East and West.

Terrones adopted the prairie as part of his volunteer hours for an Eagle Scout project with Boy Scouts of America Troop 40. Terrones said he invested more than 50 hours in planning and 20 hours working on the site. He consulted with area experts to remove and reinstall more than 500 pieces of flagstone for the prairie pathway, installed the bird houses and signs and organized a volunteer day, recruiting 30 volunteers to help with the project.

I like making a difference, Terrones said. I am an environmentalist and Im glad that we could preserve the prairie so that people in the community can enjoy it and learn about Illinois natural plants.

There is a Boy Scout code called Leave No Trace that means you need to leave a site better than you found it and that is what I tried to do with the prairie, Terrones said.

Our hope is that this prairie will be a site to represent ecological diversity and be used as an outdoor educational classroom for the students of Lincoln Way East, as well as a site that can be enjoyed and utilized by the community, said Julie Widinski.

The next phase of the project is to move more native prairie plants and to relocate a playhouse for children, which will be a community asset for families who attend sporting events at East to enjoy.

Widinski is seeking volunteers for Saturday, September 12 and Saturday, October 24 from 9 a.m. to noon to move as many plants as possible. Interested volunteers are encouraged to contact her at jwidinski@lw210.org.