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Citizens for Conservation Help Restore the Prairie

Have you heard the BirdNote story about Tom Vanderpoel and his volunteers, Restoring Prairies for Grassland Birds?

Restoration on the Grigsby Prairie Restoration Site, in the Barrington Hills area northwest of Chicago, was begun in the 1980s. The site -- on land donated by Peggy Richards -- now serves as a "nursery" of native grassland seeds for other sites. It's a glorious, crisp, October morning! We're going to follow Tom Vanderpoel, coordinator of the Citizens for Conservation, and his crew of volunteers as they collect seeds from native prairie grassland plants. On this day, volunteers will be gathering seeds from four types of plants.

Grigsby serves a "nursery" of native grassland seeds for other sites. Tom Vanderpoel is the coordinator of Citizens for Conservation.
Volunteers gather to collect seeds from native prairie plants. Volunteer orientation

The prairie is made up of literally hundreds of species, but some of the basic species are grasses, including prairie dropseed and little bluestem. A lot of the flowers -- like the big compass plant, the rattlesnake master, and the azure aster -- are also ripe. These plants are particularly critical to establishing the prairie.

Off they go, into the fields! Volunteers pick prairie dropseed and little bluestem seeds.
BirdNote executive producer, Chris Peterson, jumps right in. Prairie dropseed

In spring, volunteers will scatter these seeds on new sites. As the grasses, flowers, and other plants are established, the birds return. “It doesn’t take very long before you start getting the rewards from what you’re doing,” says Tom.

Learn more about Citizens for Conservation and the Grigsby Prairie Restoration.

Be sure to listen to the BirdNote story about Tom and his volunteers, Restoring Prairies for Grassland Birds.


Check out this amazing list of native prairie plants for prairie restoration, courtesy of Kenneth R. Robertson, Center for Biodiversity, Illinois Natural History Survey