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Native Plant Garden Weeding Event

volunteers helps weed in the garden, with t-shirt reading

On a gorgeous sunny May morning, the Office of Planning, Sustainability and Project Management (PSPM) organized a Native Prairie Garden Hands-On Maintenance Workday event to educate UIC faculty and staff about native garden maintenance.

The training was led by the University of Illinois Extension, including two Master Gardeners and U of I Extension Educator, Nancy Kreith. Master Gardeners are trained horticultural experts that volunteered to help us maintain these beautiful and pollinator-friendly spaces.

Participants included staff from PSPM and Facilities Management (Grounds) and learned the difference between a native plant and a weed. Participants were able to remove the unwanted plants at the Little Prairie on Campus and the newly constructed Arthington Mall rain gardens.

Consistent with the UIC Climate Action Implementation Plan (CAIP) solution 4.3.1, Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan, and the UIC Climate Commitments of becoming a Biodiverse Campus, UIC has been maintaining and installing native plants on campus to expand pollinator habitats on campus. Native plants’ deep roots also help the campus reach our Net Zero Water goal of reducing stormwater runoff.

Most recently, the university has renovated the Arthington Mall with rain gardens thanks to the efforts of the Office of Planning, Sustainability, and Project Management (PSPM) and awards from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

The project looked to the goals of the UIC Climate Commitments to provide a welcoming, hospitable space that retains stormwater on-site and make a perfect habitat for local pollinators, helping to increase their populations and overall biodiversity.

The renovation installed over 21,000 square feet of native plant rain gardens with 45 different plant variants and 6,700 total native plants, including pollinator-friendly plants such as black-eyed susans, prairie dock, milkweed, wild hyacinth, and eastern redbud. These native plants provide a habitat for pollinators and develop optimal growth just from the amount of rainfall. Eastern bumble bees, green sweat bees, calligrapher flies, and monarch butterflies are frequent visitors of the gardens.

More than that, UIC is a recognized Bee Campus USA and in partnership with PSPM’s Sustainability Internship Program (SIP), there are many learning opportunities for UIC student interns to learn about native plants and prairies.

The Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan is a comprehensive plan that serves to educate the UIC community how to design and maintain a pollinator-friendly landscape. Check out the plan to learn more about pollinators and celebrate National Pollinator week with us June 21 - 27, 2021!

Read more about Arthington Mall at go.uic.edu/ArthingtonMall