Friday, March 11, 2016

Pocket Prairie Planted at New Elementary

Text/photos courtesy Rummel Creek’s Shannon Otermat

As part of an extensive Outdoor Learning Center for the school’s new campus, the Rummel Creek Elementary PTA teamed up with local nonprofit group, the Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC), to develop a Pocket Prairie on the school’s campus. With this news, the school is now the latest member of the KPC’s Katy Prairie Builder Schools Program.

The school’s Pocket Prairie is aptly named the Roadrunner Prairie, after the elementary school’s mascot, which is an animal that was indigenous to the Katy Prairie lands.

“Rummel Creek Elementary is sitting on the historic Katy Prairie, and is situated on a site that was part of a huge riparian forest. Adjacent to this forest were native, wet prairie and farm and ranchland that used to be native prairie,” said Jaime González, community education director with the conservancy.

“It is a fascinating location and neighborhood. Riparian forests are a critical part of the greater Katy Prairie ecosystem, and we will teach the students about this unique habitat,” he also said.

“It’s a great treat to work so closely with the Katy Prairie Conservancy. This is an outstanding group that is dedicated to preserving and protecting one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet,” said Heather Sheffield, PTA president at Rummel Creek. “This is going to be a great collaboration, and one that will benefit our students for years to come.”

The Roadrunner Prairie was planted with a vast amount of native wildflower seeds such as the Lady Bird Johnson mix, pollinator essentials mix, green milkweed, Indian paintbrush, partridge pea, pitcher sage, prairie agalingus and prairie larkspur.

More than 75 potted plants included rattlesnake master, Texas coneflower, pitcher sage, little bluestem grass, big bluestem grass, switchgrass, yellow Indian grass, ironweed, and a variety of milkweed plants and eastern gamagrass.

The local nonprofit Houston Community ToolBank loaned all the tools needed to plant the new Roadrunner Prairie.

The school’s Outdoor Learning Center includes seven dedicated grade-level garden beds and a colorful butterfly habitat. Students will have hands-on opportunities to learn about ecosystems and plant life indigenous to Texas.

In addition to the raised garden beds (which were constructed of materials to match the exterior of the new campus), the Outdoor Learning Center includes a babbling brook and a fountain. This project was funded by the Rummel Creek PTA and led by parents Carrie Stallwitz and Ann-Margaret H. Dudley. 

Assisting Stallwitz and Dudley were master gardeners Mark Ramey (father to Rummel Creek teacher Meredith Ramey and father-in-law to campus teacher Rebecca Ramey) and Gloria Scheel (grandmother of Rummel Creek students Jake and John Hearne).

About the KPC
The Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC)has been instrumental in pocket prairies popping up all over Houston as part of an initiative to beautify the city while preserving the native plants that thrived in Harris County before it became a sprawling, concrete landscape. The KPC was established in 1992 to protect forever a sustainable portion of the Katy Prairie for the benefit of its wildlife and for the enjoyment of all Texans. The KPC has already conserved 20,000 acres of the Katy Prairie, a once vast tall grass prairie that is still home to hundreds of species of wildlife and native grasses and wildflowers.


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