The cycle of prairie plant life in Carpentersville got a helping hand Tuesday.
Well, several dozen hands.
Seeds from plants like coneflowers, little blue stem, bergamot and others were the prizes on a sort of nature scavenger hunt as students from Perry Elementary School in Carpentersville fanned out into the prairie with brown paper sacks. The kids were paired with honors environmental research students from Dundee-Crown High School at Snuffy's Prairie for what has become an annual collection of prairie plant seeds.
The 10-acre prairie near Huntley Road and Sleepy Hollow Road near Carpentersville, has been a work in progress for the past seven years, thanks to volunteers in the surrounding neighborhood as well as local students. But the prairie plants have taken hold well enough that they are able to continually repopulate the prairie each year, so seeds are collected and spread around other parts of the 850 acres Dundee Township owns as open space.
Since the acreage was converted to prairie from farmland in 2003, students from Dundee-Crown and Perry have been joining forces on the prairie for an outdoor learning experience, an idea hatched by former Dundee-Crown environmental science teacher Gary Swick, Perry Elementary teacher Jo Ann Fritz and June Keibler, who lives adjacent to the property.
June and her husband, Steve, are stewards of the prairie and helped name the area Snuffy's Prairie after Don "Snuffy Smith," a lifelong resident of Dundee Township. Fritz said that students have even helped pay their own way for the outing by doing chores around the house to earn a few dollars for the field trip. The remainder of the busing costs are picked up by Dundee Township.