According to Dr. Jacobs (CSU biology professor), "Prairies are grasslands that once dominated the landscape of Illinois, nicknamed the prairie state. However, today they cover less than 1% of what used to be 22 million acres. In urban areas, remnant and restored prairies contribute to the biological diversity and green space while offering a needed respite to urban populations."
Dr. Karel Jacobs, CSU Professor of Urban Forestry, is presently engaged in research in the garden. "My students and I are evaluating the soil health in the prairie. Prairies and native landscapes help restore and detoxify sites. So, our research involves comparing the health of the prairie soils with adjunct soils." Dr. Jacobs also uses the garden to instruct students on how to teach biology.
Dr. Timothy Bell, Professor of Botany, started the garden in 2003 with a grant from the Illinois
Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Since then, additional faculty have become involved in its development and this year, due to a second IDNR grant, a prairie gardener and a volunteer coordinator have been hired. It was the volunteer coordinator, Ms. Kelly Bolger who entered the prairie garden in the citywide competition.
Grant - Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Award - Mayor's Landscape Awards Program
Dr. Karel Jacobs
Dr. Timothy J. Bell
Mrs. Susan Kirt-Alterio