Beyond the Classroom

Integrating Prairie Restoration, Environmental Education and Community Building
 native prairie

Read on to catch a glimpse of some exciting educational experiences that are happening as a result of the vision for a native prairie in place of an abandoned ball field.  Students from Ken-O-Sha Grand Rapids Public Schools explored Blandford’s restored prairie to become plant experts. They came out to grow in their understanding and curiosity of the prairie plants, their knowledge of the natural world, and be inspired to read more as a result. Soon they will be planting their plants’ seeds at the Ken-O-Sha Park.

Thanks to the financial support of Star Truck Rentals, Bill Bylenga and his sons Tom and Dave, and the leadership of Jason and Alison Googins, Blandford is able provide educational resources and experiences that connect the students learning to the Ken-O-Sha park Prairie Restoration Project.

Blandford Nature Center  is just one of the collaborators in this project. Jason and Alison Googins, MSU Extension Master Naturalists, also reached out to Friends of GR Parks, Grand Rapids Parks & Recreation Department, River City Wild Ones, Plaster Creek Stewards, Fen View Design, Craig Elston from the Hudsonville Nature Center, and Ken-O-Sha Grand Rapids Public School to bring the community together. Just like an ecosystem working together, each one of these organizations and individuals play a key role in offering this unique opportunity for the school and community.


Science, reading, and history came alive for students as they were able to get a hands-on look at the lives and parts of prairie plants during their recent visit to Blandford Nature Center. A focus on these plants had kids exploring their varieties and how animals and humans put the plants to use. The amazing lives of plants provided an interesting view of the natural world.

Question: Looking around at all the variety of plants, what do the prairie plants need to survive?


The students made observations of their plant to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

The prairie is a place of extremes. Plants that live in it must be adapted to floods, drought, heat and cold. They must also be able to withstand extreme wind and blazing fire. How do they do it? Every plant has its own strategy.​

How many types of living things live in a place? The students were encouraged to observe the plants to investigate the plant, the seeds and their ​surroundings. The guided reading sheets will helped the students answer the questions.

Student used their observations to formulate an explanation . Once students have explored plants and their seeds.They used their reading and observations to answer the questions, “What does the plant need to grow? What animals use this plant?  How did the Native Americans use the plant?


​This is just the beginning of some exciting nature-based education.  This Prairie project will not only provide inspiration for learning among students, teacher and the community, but will become an important part of the ecosystem as well.  This is going to have a positive impact on the entire community.
 Can you catch the vision? This will soon become a North American Prairie,one of the most endangered ecosystems on earth. The students of Ken-O-Sha are learning and working to make this new place thrive.

Can you catch the vision? This will soon become a North American Prairie,one of the most endangered ecosystems on earth. The students of Ken-O-Sha are learning and working to make this new place thrive.


One thought on “Beyond the Classroom

  1. Pingback: Former BEEP Now Teacher | Blandford Nature Center

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