Karen Loke from Texas Parks and Wildlife took first place in the Family Participation/Youth Outdoor Education category in the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America’s Excellence in Craft contest.
The Katy Prairie Conservancy’s Prairie Builder Schools + Parks program is the focus of an award-winning video by Karen Loke produced for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. This video about Urban Pocket Prairies in the Houston area was celebrated by the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America’s Excellence in Craft contest and won first place in the Family Participation/Youth Outdoor Education category.
The video highlights pocket prairies that have been created in partnership with Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC), a conservation land trust, and Westside High School and Kolter Elementary School in the Houston Independent School District, which enable students to get outside and learn on their own school grounds. Another pocket prairie at MD Anderson Cancer Center creates a natural place for patients and families to connect with the outdoors.
“In addition to saving grand places like the Katy Prairie, KPC is also helping people in the community find nature right where they live, work, and play”, KPC’s Executive Director, Mary Anne Piacentini says.
KPC’s Prairie Builders Schools + Parks program is one of many KPC educational initiatives which engages public schools and public spaces, often located in economically depressed areas, to establish on-site pocket prairies. These prairies become bridges for learning about science, history, culture, economics, and global environmental stewardship. Further, these prairies preserve a lasting location where students can interact with the land.
To date, 10,000 students have participated in educational programming through this project. KPC has also assisted six public parks in creating native grasslands habitats. Now, KPC turns its work to colleges and universities. In the spring of 2016, KPC partnered with the University of Houston to create a pocket prairie on its campus for student research. In 2017, KPC will collaborate with Rice University, University of Houston-Downtown, and the University of St. Thomas to accomplish this same goal.