Hands-on Learning with St. Edward’s at Commons Ford

St Edward’s students learn plant identification skills and the value of native prairies while conducting the annual Commons Ford Prairie vegetation survey

Dr. Amy Concilio of St. Edward’s University has joined the Commons Ford team to take the lead on vegetation surveys.  With a group of  eight undergraduate students and two Master’s students, she spent a week in early May conducting the annual vegetation surveys along nine transects established in 2011.  Most of the undergraduate students had no previous experience identifying plants, so they spent a few days learning about what characteristics are important to make note of when identifying grasses and wildflowers, how to use a dichotomous key, and how to sample vegetation using the transect method.

It was a fantastic opportunity for them to get hand’s-on experience in ecological field sampling, and several of the students are now considering doing capstone research projects at the site. Most of the students had never been to Commons Ford and were blown away by many different grasses and wildflowers could be found in a native Texas prairie!  The students also had the opportunity to hear from Ed Fair about the history of the site and project. They are inspired and excited to share their new knowledge with friends and family, and hopefully contribute to conservation and restoration efforts of native Texas ecosystems!

Travis Audubon and the Commons Ford Prairie Committee thank Dr. Concilio and her students for completing the survey. We hope the students will continue to visit CFP and become avid birders, plant ecologists, or leaders in conservation for native prairies–or all three!

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