Central College students in the Fall 2022 Conservation Biology and Ecology of Iowa class took part in the seeding of a new prairie around Lake Red Rock dam. Russ Benedict, professor of biology at Central and director of Prairies for Agriculture Project, orchestrated students from his class as they developed a seed mixture and gathered seeds from various sources. They planted the prairie in early December.
“We collected seeds from local, never-plowed prairies — which is a rare thing in Iowa —and from Central’s planted prairies, and bought seed from a local seed dealer,” Benedict says. “I worked with Missouri River Energy Services, the company that built the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project, to arrange a small prairie planting near the project below the Red Rock dam.”
The location of the prairie will make it a valuable educational resource for people who are visiting Lake Red Rock. Students in future courses will help develop signs to improve the public’s knowledge of tallgrass prairie, one of the most endangered ecosystems on earth. The prairie, which will take several years to become established, potentially can grow at the site for centuries, with proper care.
Conservation Biology and Ecology of Iowa course students who participated include students from the Class of 2023, Sam Beatty, Annah Bender, Anthony Cervelli, Shale Chapel, Paige King, Makenna Rhodes, Keaton Rodgers, Cassandra Severson and Ian Thomson; from the Class of 2024, Abigail Boorman, Anne Gregory and Jocelyn Timmerman; and from the Class of 2025, Kayla Lindquist and Zoe Lutz.
Central College of Pella, Iowa, is a private, four-year liberal arts college. Central is known for its academic rigor and leadership formation and for cultivating diversity of thought and culture through the arts and sciences, professional fields of study and experiential learning.
MRES is a joint-action agency made up of 61 member municipalities in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. MRES provides its members with wholesale electricity and energy-related services.