Weed Warriors Restore Prairie at Environmental Learning Center

By July 8, 2013Education

RMBO recently wrapped up its second season of programs at its Environmental Learning Center in Brighton, Colorado. This spring, homeschool students and students from schools in the Denver Metro area visited the center to learn about water, prairies and birds and participate in service learning. Students in the Shortgrass Prairie program assisted in restoring the mixed-grass prairie surrounding the center by removing non-native species, mainly a lot – and I mean a lot – of Common Mullein.

My favorite memory of the season was a third-grader refusing to quit on digging up a mullein rosette that was roughly the size of a small watermelon. After several minutes of struggle, and jumping on a shovel that was taller than her, she successfully removed the weed and shouted, “This is awesome. I want to come work for you and do this every day!” Her efforts – and the efforts of all the students this season – helped to provide a healthy home for birds at the center.


A homeschool student utilizes his senses to study the shortgrass prairie surrounding RMBO’s Environmental Learning Center. Students honed their observation skills by smelling, hearing and feeling grasses prior to a hike through the prairie. Photo by Emily Snode.

Volunteer Naturalist

Volunteer Naturalist Dale Jones leads homeschool students in a history activity. Photo by Emily Snode.

Weed Warriors

Students from Hemphill Middle School in Strasburg, Colo., participate in service learning by helping to restore the prairie during a field trip. By removing nearly an entire Dumpster full of Common Mullein, these Weed Warriors aided in the recovery of the prairie habitat. Photo by Emily Snode.

So far this year, RMBO educators and volunteer naturalists have connected more than 2,000 students with birds and nature through educational programs. Thank you to our naturalists for dedicating more than 400 hours to the programs and Ed Warner and Jackie Erickson, the Norris Family Foundation, Morgridge Family Foundation, Adams County Open Space and Scientific & Cultural Facilities District for their generous financial support. And thank you to the many students who helped restore the prairie this year. You are all Weed Warriors!

I’d like to wrap up with a comment I received from a homeschool student’s mother just the other day. It’s why we do what we do at RMBO:

“You’re an inspiration! Classes are out, but my kids are watching the Mountain Chickadees nesting in our Topsy Turvey, and learning everything they can, just because they loved the class! Thank you!”

~ Emily Snode, School Programs Coordinator