Prairie Rangers preserve environment, explore nature
|The original Prairie Rangers have been part of the program for more than a year now.
A group of curious kids have joined together to explore nature, and they are looking for new recruits.
They are the Junior Prairie Rangers, members of a program at Fermilab's Lederman Science Center that teaches students in grades 4-6 about nature and biodiversity.
Now entering its second year, the Prairie Rangers will kick off its 2010 events on Jan. 16. A registration form and more information is available online.
Maureen Hix, a Fermilab docent and former school teacher, started the program in 2008 to heighten children's interest in nature. The Prairie Rangers will meet five times this year and focus on three goals: Learn about the prairie; become stewards of the environment; and promote biodiversity awareness.
"I want students to develop a lifelong respect for nature and learn to protect and revive the prairie," Hix said. "This program helps rangers apply biodiversity and ecology to their own backyard."
The Prairie Rangers are taught that all things in nature are interconnected. They observe insects, build terrariums housing plant specimens and grow plants from seeds picked at Fermilab. This year, the Junior Rangers will learn about milkweed and the monarch butterfly.
At the end of each successfully completed activity, each Junior Ranger earns a pin of stewardship.
So far, there have been 14 certified Junior Rangers, including original ranger Nathaniel Blowers, son of Fermilab TD's Jamie Blowers.
"My favorite activity was the seed harvest where we filled bags with clipped seeds and then grew some of them," he said. "I would like to pursue ecology and teach people about the prairie and endangered plants."
The Junior Prairie Rangers will meet from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Jan. 16 at the Lederman Science Center. Registration is $10. More information about the program, including a complete schedule, is available online.
-- Tonisha Taylor