Tag Archives: conservation nursery

Adapting During Challenging Times: a Check-In from SPP

By Erica Benoit, SPP Special Projects Manager and Kelli Bush, SPP Co-Director

We at SPP are all deeply aware of how difficult this past year has been. It has been especially hard for the people living and working in prisons. We acknowledge the loss and suffering experienced by incarcerated people, their families, and corrections staff.  Our thoughts are with our fellow humans everywhere—may we all have better days ahead.

Like many organizations, SPP has also faced a slew of competing challenges. Over the past year we have shifted to working remotely, navigated major staffing changes resulting in a smaller team size, and supported multiple team members through health issues. We are continually processing the overall health and safety impacts of COVID-19 and loss of in-person interaction with students, partners, and our small team at Evergreen. Despite these challenges, we are hopeful for better horizons. We are reaching out to share how SPP is making the best use of these challenging times; we are simultaneously practicing patience and resilience every day.

Human health and safety are our top priority over program operation. As a result, the vast majority of SPP programs have been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are still supporting operation of a few programs, but only where interactions with SPP staff can be masked, socially distant, primarily outside, and with access to proper resources for hand washing and cleaning high touch surfaces. Programs which have continued under these circumstances and in accordance with approved COVID plans include the prairie conservation nursery at Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW), the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly program at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women (MCCCW), and a few peer-led education programs at various facilities.

Keegan Curry from SPP safely helps out with the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly program at MCCCW. Photo by Marisa Pushee. 

Despite major program suspensions, SPP staff have still been hard at work on projects in three main focus areas: remote education, proposal development, and policy/guidance work. We hope that the behind-the-scenes work done in these areas will have lasting benefits when programs are able to safely restart. Brief details on some specific projects (most still in progress) are provided below.

Remote Education

Beekeeping

  • Curation and delivery of monthly educational packets to all facilities
  • Development of higher-level beekeeping certification (in progress)

Peer-led Gardening Curriculum

Ecology Curriculum

Prairie Conservation Nursery

  • Standardizing education materials and adapting for remote access (i.e. remote presentations, limited contact education, and/or peer-led components)

Peer-led Composting Curriculum

  • Identifying funding and planning for development of curriculum for statewide use

Solar Energy Education

  • New partnership with Olympia Community Solar that allows donors to sponsor solar energy education packets to be sent to prison facilities

Proposal Development

Funding

  • Provided budget for potential new education and training program in partnership with WA Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Developed and submitted a funding proposal to complete the next phases of gardening and composting course and to pilot in another state
  • Developed and submitted a funding proposal to expand Evergreen education in prisons

Planning and Organization Improvements

  • Improving processes and guidance related to development of education materials
  • Developed new SPP program planning templates to improve operations and clarity among partners
  • Identifying more reliable mechanisms for delivering remote education
  • Developed general partnership resource document for guiding all types of successful prison programs among multiple partners (in progress)

Policy/Guidance Work

  • Tracking and testifying in support of HB1044 Pathways to Post-Secondary Education in Prisons
  • Working with Washington Department of Corrections and education organizations to develop policy and guidelines for successful peer-led programs in prison (in progress)
  • Working with The Evergreen State College to draft new policy to that will support granting college credit to currently incarcerated program participants successfully completing SPP certificated internship programs
  • Research to address barriers limiting access to fresh produce in prison and considering development of food handling education to improve ability for prison kitchens to utilize fresh produce from facility gardens (longer-term project)

Lastly, we are actively drafting our latest Annual Report, which is expected to be published sometime in spring. Be on the lookout for this report for full updates regarding SPP programs and initiatives from July 2019 through December 2020.

Happy Halloween from Stafford Creek Corrections Center

Text and photos by Graham Klag, Conservation Nursery Coordinator

This year’s pumpkin and squash harvest

Halloween pumpkins in prison! In addition to growing important prairie plants, technicians at Stafford Creek Corrections Center also grow a cornucopia of produce for Grays Harbor County’s Coastal Harvest Program. Their hard work and harvest provides food for hungry families and Halloween pumpkins for people in prison to enjoy. Happy Halloween!

Conservation nursery technician Dale King and the crew tilling new rows for the new season
From hoop house to table
A week’s worth of produce harvested and headed out to the community

So Close to a Million Plants We Can Almost Taste It

By Carl Elliott, SPP Conservation Nursery Manager

SPP’s Conservation Nursery continue to thrive at three facilities in Washington State: Stafford Creek Corrections Center, Washington Corrections Center for Women, and Shotwell’s Landing Nursery. Since 2010, we have delivered almost 1,000,000 plants for restoration and habitat enhancement projects on Puget lowland prairies— just 33,000 more plants and we’ll be there! In 2013 we provided 375,000 plugs for prairie projects (see the table below); this is a 14% increase over what we produced the year before. We achieved the increase by adding nursery capacity at Washington Corrections Center for Women, plus increased support from the dedicated prairie restoration crew from Cedar Creek Corrections Center.

This was the first season for nursery production at Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW). The crew of five inmate technicians carefully cultivated and shipped 80,000 native prairie plants. They were particularly success at growing blanket flower, Gaillardia aristata, a species that in past years showed low germination and growth rates. The warmer conditions in the propagation hoop houses at WCCW proved to be just the environment that allowed this species to thrive. The Conservation Nursery program benefits enormously from having a new site with an enthusiastic crew of technicians and staff.

WCCW Conservation Nursery Crew loading Gaillardia aristata to be delivered to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo by Bri Morningred.

WCCW Conservation Nursery Crew loading Gaillardia aristata to be delivered to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo by Bri Morningred.

SPP’s Conservation Nursery continues to be a highly collaborative effort. Regional coordination is provided by the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM); they bring together managers responsible for prairie habitat to develop detailed restoration and habitat enhancement plans for the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. The plants cultivated by SPP’s Conservation Nursery directly benefit the regional stakeholders such as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Natural Resources, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wolfhaven International, and CNLM. This year we also increased the number of plants going to land managers of prairies in the northern portion of the Puget lowlands, Whidbey and the San Juan Islands; we hope to further those relationships in the future.

The delivery truck is almost full with 400 trays, a load of 39,000 plants. Photo by Bri Morningred

The delivery truck is almost full with 400 trays, a load of 39,000 plants. Photo by Bri Morningred

Though we came up just short of the magic number of 1,000,000 in the 2013, we feel confident that in 2014 we will blow right past that goal, and on to our next milestone!

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Americorps volunteers planting out SPP-grown plugs on the prairie at Glacial Heritage Reserve. Photo by CNLM staff.

Americorps volunteers planting out SPP-grown plugs on the prairie at Glacial Heritage Reserve. Photo by CNLM staff.