Just outside the Alvin Community College Science/Health Science Building is a green patch of turf that instructors hope will blossom into a field of prairie grass, wildflowers, milkweed plants and other native species.
Biology instructors Heather Lewis, Michelle Bradford and Dwight Rhodes launched a pollinator project in 2020 to create a space for research.
“Our long-term goals include a unique visual space for all persons on campus as well as creating a space for students to study and learn about native plants and habitats,” Lewis said. “It could lead to small research projects or be incorporated into an Honors course.”
“We think this will become a teaching tool to show students the plant diversity of our region,” Rhodes said.
Just before the winter holidays, instructors mowed their field as low as they could, tilled up some portions and then planted the seeds. They hope to see the plants begin to grow this spring.
“Seeds were scattered across the area and now we just wait and see,” Lewis said. “We did check the progress over the holiday break and can see some very small seedlings arising. It will take months to see if and what seeds fully germinate.”
The project was first proposed more than a year ago after Lewis and Rhodes spoke with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about creating a pollinator space. It was delayed following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our goal was really to start creating habitats for birds and butterflies,” Rhodes said. “These species are decreasing because of destruction of natural habitat.”
As part of their project, the Fish and Wildlife Service provided milkweed plants which have produced seeds while growing in the ACC greenhouse.
“These seeds, in addition to many other prairie/pollinator seeds, were scattered for our current project,” Lewis said. “Our goals include having the habitat for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators. It just so happens that they will use the prairie wildflowers.”
The Biology instructors hope to build on the pollinator project’s success in the future.
“In addition to the prairie area, we hope to expand by adding a rainwater garden feature adjacent to the project,” Lewis said. “We hope this is just the beginning of creating a unique space.”