Landscape Services helps create outdoor laboratory for MSU students
December 16, 2020
A campus natural area that earlier this year was an overgrown patch alongside Trowbridge Road has transformed with help from IPF Landscape Services crews into an outdoor learning laboratory, giving students hands-on education in ecological restoration.
Lars Brudvig, a professor in the Department of Plant Biology, and members of Landscape Services joined with the student Fisheries and Wildlife Club in repairing the damaged natural area granted to the university in the 1970s. The area is identified as an abandoned agricultural field with invasive plants and weedy vegetation.
Brudvig’s senior-level course, Restoration Ecology, has partnered with the Fisheries and Wildlife Club to conduct restoration projects and evaluate ongoing projects to guide future restoration efforts. The prairie project is an extension of a grant Brudvig received in 2016 that focuses on research and education in restoration ecology.
The grant provides funds to restore the Trowbridge Road natural area with his course in addition to research done on various restored prairies throughout the upper Midwest and through experiments at the Kellogg Biological Station.
Leaders of the club, which has overseen the natural area near the Communication Arts and Sciences Building ramp for decades, approached Landscape Services this year for assistance in clearing the area and removing invasive plants.
“My team loves an opportunity to partner with faculty to provide richer learning opportunities for students,” said Matt Bailey, Landscape Services manager. “I’m glad the Fisheries and Wildlife Club reached out to us for this project and we were able to connect with Professor Brudvig to help with his research grant. We’re helping turn an overgrown area into a more attractive natural space.”
Staff spent time throughout the summer and early fall clearing and tilling the area to allow for seeding of native prairie plants as part of Brudvig’s grant.
Seeds sourced from Native Connections, a local company that specializes in native seeds and wild area restoration, were spread by the group to begin the long process of returning the area to its natural state. Seeds that were planted included a mixture of 21 prairie grasses and wildflowers.
The planting event was livestreamed on Facebook by the club and Brudvig fielded questions from viewers.
Lars Brudvig and members of the Fisheries and Wildlife Club begin prairie planting south of Trowbridge Rd. Nick Schrader, IPF