ALERT: Full hookup sites now available at Arrowhead Park, Botna Bend Park, and Hitchcock Nature Center for $30 per night.
ALERT: Closure of L-55 Bridge over I-80 (exit 23) to Arrowhead Park scheduled for July 1st. May be closed through early August.

Tri-Center School District Invests in Pollinator Habitat, Serves as Model for Implementing Environmental Education 

Neola, IA: Through a partnership with Pottawattamie Conservation, more than 50 students in Tri-Center High School’s Agronomy Class and Future Farmers of America group participated in various pollinator projects over the past calendar year including planting 15 native trees and a small orchard, more than 200 native prairie plant plugs, and seeding .6 acres with native prairie seed. But the planting fun isn’t done—before the end of this school year students will plant another 100 plant plugs on school grounds. 

“Through this experience, students learned that biodiversity builds resiliency in our local ecosystem and that the loss of native biodiversity has added pressure to our failing pollinator populations,” Pottawattamie Conservation naturalist Rene Stroud said. “The school empowered them to do something about it, and they did! These students are already making a difference in the world.”  

Tri-Center High School students plant native plant plugs on school grounds, May 2022.
Tri-Center High School students plant native plant plugs on school grounds, May 2022.

Plantings have restored critical habitat for monarch butterflies, bees, and grassland songbirds and serve as outdoor classroom spaces which are proven to improve student well-being and academic outcomes. By engaging in these hands-on, educational projects, students learned scientific principles, real-world skills, and how important native plants are for sustaining pollinator populations which we rely on for one out of every three bites of food. 

This coming school year students will continue to apply their environmental education skills by interseeding the school’s .6-acre pollinator plot with seed provided by Pottawattamie County Pheasants Forever. 

“Tri-Center School District is a role model for any school looking to expand learning opportunities while making a positive difference in its world and community,” Stroud said. 

Pottawattamie Conservation assisted the school by applying for grant funding to fund projects, planning and coordinating planting events, and connecting the school to new partnerships with the Pottawattamie Soil, Water, and Conservation District, Monarch Matters, Pollinator Alliance of the Heartland, Iowa DNR, Council Bluffs Trees Forever, and Pheasants Forever.  

Funding for projects was provided by Trees for Kids, Council Bluffs Trees Forever, Pollinator Alliance of the Heartland, Sisters of Perpetual Admiration, Milkweed Matters, and Pottawattamie County Pheasants Forever’s “Pollinator Habitat Outreach Program” which is supported by Corteva, Bayer, USFWS, Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, Pollinator Partnership, Monarch Joint Venture, and local volunteer chapters. 

If you are inspired by this school and its students, please reach out to Pottawattamie Conservation naturalist Rene Stroud.

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