Restoring What Was Once Lost

BY: KATERINA FIEDLER, SUSTAINABILITY INTERNSHIP PROGRAM SUMMER STUDENT, 2017

The central sustainability issue behind my internship project is biodiversity. Biodiversity is one of UIC’s four Climate Commitments. There is lack of biodiversity throughout Chicago due to preference toward aesthetics rather than what is native but with my project I’m slowly changing that. With the help of a grant through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, UIC is able to restore 0.25 acres of prairie. Hundreds of species call a prairie their home along with an abundance of plants native to Illinois, Before I joined, the initial plants were already in, so my job is to maintain the area. This includes weeding, watering, and adding new plants. Through my project I’ve learned about the rarity of prairies and how difficult they are to restore.

I also visited the James Woodworth Prairie in Glenview, Illinois. The 5 acre plot of land began its restoration journey in 1966. It had never been developed and is a remnant of a time before settlement. Today,visitors can see what a full-fledged prairie looks like and how volunteers help maintain it. It is also owned by UIC which allows researchers to study the area. It will be about 3-5 years before UIC’s prairie is fully restored and I’m excited to see the final product. I’ll have graduated by then but I plan to come back and visit.

Along with the restoration of the prairie, I amhelping draft a Pollinator Protection Plan to support the recognition UIC received from BeeCampus USA. This plan correlates well with the prairie restoration because it will be an oasis for pollinators. I’m happy to put my writing skills to use and I enjoy every day I’m outside, in the sun, working to restore the prairie.