Posted Date: 01/23/2017
While Kansas does not make the top wonders of the world, about 70,000 people a year travel to the Midwestern states to view the largest ecosystem in the Midwest: the Tallgrass prairie. What used to be a wide expanse of big and little bluestem, Indian, and switchgrass in the U.S. is down to the last 4% of these native grasses located only in the Flint Hills.
To increase awareness of this dwindling ecosystem, a Flint Hills Map and Education program was made for schools to spread the importance of the prairie. The program was introduced to Andover Central on January 13.
Annie Wilson, the project coordinator, helped found and worked on the project for two years, and now she introduces it to the 184 schools that want to implement the program, including Andover Central.
“The program comes with teaching resources and is place based, that gives you an actual sense of learning and understanding the importance of the Flint Hills,” Wilson said. “Most of what used to be the prairie today has been turned into crops and ploughed and replaced with non-native grass and Woodlands like Cedar trees.”
Thanks to the generous donations of many private and corporate foundations, Central received a map of the Flint Hills and the program at no cost.
One contributor who came to the ceremony was Tracy Graham.
“I heard about the concept five years ago, and I liked the great emphasis that teaches students that they live in the middle of somewhere special…We got involved because we care about the future and young people are the future and they need to know about it because it matters,” Graham said.
The map and information is placed outside the library so students passing in the halls can read about the importance of the Flint Hills.
By Victoria Eastman