Prairie’s Companion


Maricela Flores poses in the tallgrass prairie with two others. Photo: Adrian Olivera


Tall, swaying grasses and bright sunflowers define the prairie, home to hundreds of kinds of birds and insects. For Maricela Flores (above), the draw of the tallgrass prairie is not one species or another but the ecosystem as a whole. Last year Flores, a migrant education recruiter for the Crete Public School Special Programs Office, encouraged children and adults to enroll in the Crete Prairie Club, an initiative launched by Spring Creek Prairie Audubon and a Toyota-supported TogetherGreen grant. Members, including students from middle and high schools, traveled to Spring Creek Prairie and the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center near Lincoln, Nebraska, to learn about native plants and local birds, and to help conservation efforts by planting seeds.

“There’s so much out there. It’s like a hidden treasure,” says Flores. Every month she drove to the site—sometimes accompanied by her two nephews—to participate in nature walks and bird counts, and to take lots and lots of photos. “I love to have a camera with me all the time” to capture the beauty, she says. While the TogetherGreen funding ended, the interest didn’t. The club is planning to run for at least another year.