Category Archives: Uncategorized

New to the Frog and Turtle Program!

By Sadie Gilliom, SPP Graduate Research Assistant

Sadie teaching teen summer campers from Thurston County how to identify native trees at Mount Rainier National Park. Photo by Alex Gilliom.

Greetings Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP) followers!

My name is Sadie Gilliom. I am the new Oregon Spotted Frog and Western Pond Turtle Program Coordinator as of August 19th.

I am excited to be a part of the SPP team and put my two great passions to work in one job: amphibian and reptile conservation and interpreting our natural world. I have always had a great love of amphibians and reptiles. I spent a great deal of my childhood watching red-legged frogs swimming in my pond, swimming with the rough-skinned newts in Shelton, WA, and watching turtles from my kayak on a lake in Michigan. Almost as much as I loved these adventures, I loved telling people about them. I have always enjoyed telling stories and using mind boggling facts to excite people about nature.

My passion for interpretation led me to become a member of the National Association of Interpretation and be certified as an Interpretive Guide. I hope to use the skills I gained in their programs to inspire stewardship in the inmate technicians at Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC).

As well as my passions, my previous job experience has led me to feel at home in the world of SPP. Through zoo keeping at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, interpreting Pacific Northwest wildlife at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, and volunteering for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, I have gained both experience and connections in the field. I am looking forward to continuing to work with these organizations, now as program partners, and I hope to help strengthen SPP’s link to these partners. In addition, I hope to pass my job skills to the technicians at CCCC.

I am excited to start my Master of Environmental Studies at The Evergreen State College and have a head start in becoming part of the Evergreen community by working with SPP. Although it is awhile before I will start to write, I hope to involve SPP in my thesis and, in doing so, strengthen the partnerships between Evergreen, the Department of Corrections, and SPP.

I am thrilled to continue on my new SPP adventure and will keep you all posted on new highlights on our frog and turtle programs at Cedar Creek Corrections Center.

Inmates’ Zeal is the Key to Roots of Success in Ohio

by Christina Stalnaker, SPP Graduate Research Assistant

Women from the Ohio Reformatory for Women and Northeast Reintegration Center graduate from Roots of Success Facilitator Training.  This is the first time ODRC brought Roots to women's prisons.  Photo Credit: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Women from the Ohio Reformatory for Women and Northeast Reintegration Center graduate from Roots of Success Facilitator Training. This is the first time ODRC brought Roots to women’s prisons. Photo by Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

“Roots of Success was the core component that tied together our cultural change in environmental awareness. We had begun recycling and composting. We addressed energy and water conservation, but I knew we needed education to really reach the inmates. Roots of Success took our green initiatives to a new level; it led the change that allowed inmates to be part of the environmental awareness at SCC (Southeastern Correctional Complex). The passion I saw from the inmates was amazing.”

-Warden Sheri Duffey, the first Warden to bring Roots to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC)

In prison classrooms throughout Ohio, ODRC provides facilitator training for inmates to deliver Roots of Success, an environmental literacy curriculum. These facilitators will prepare fellow inmates for re-entry into the green economy. ODRC also leverages inmates’ new-found passion and environmental education to implement sustainability initiatives throughout their facilities. ODRC brought Roots of Success to its first institution in 2011. Leah Morgan, ODRC Energy Conservation & Sustainability Administrator, informs us that the program proved to be so successful that it is now implemented in 19 out of 26 institutions, with plans to expand into all facilities within the next year.

Lorain Correctional Institution recently hosted ODRC’s largest Roots of Success train-the-trainer course to date, including both men and women from their facilities. Photo by Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Morgan attributes the program’s success to their inmates, “Honestly, though, it wouldn’t have taken off the way it did without the passion of the inmates behind it. They LOVE this program.  We have long-term offenders trained and certified to facilitate the program, so a) it is not incredibly staff intensive, and b) it gives them meaningful work that they don’t normally have an opportunity to have.”

You can see video testimony from two of ODRC’s original trainers here:

Video by Roots of Success.

Video by Roots of Success.

Both Tony Simmons and Willie Lagway are Roots of Success Master Trainers at the Southeastern Correctional Complex in Lancaster.

Graduations and Transitions

By Jaal Mann, SPP Graduate Research Assistant

After over two years working with the Sustainability in Prisons Project, it’s difficult to move on from this highly supportive and tight-knit group who work together to help everyone achieve success.

While I am sad to leave the program, the graduate students who come and go are part of what makes SPP the organization it is. Every year, a new batch of students begins to work with the program, advancing their own research in ways that can improve SPP’s practices, and bringing their fresh perspectives and ideas to the programs.

SPP's second-year conservation nursery graduate students, from left to right: Bri Morningred, Jaal Mann, and Drissia Ras. Jaal and Drissia have finished their Masters studies and will be moving on at the end of the month.

SPP’s second-year conservation nursery graduate students, from left to right: Bri Morningred, Jaal Mann, and Drissia Ras. Jaal and Drissia have finished their Masters studies and will be moving on at the end of the month.

At the same time, major transitions have happened in the Prairie Restoration Crew from Cedar Creek Corrections Center. Several inmates on the crew were released, and others moved on to different jobs. We recently held a graduation ceremony for crew members who had completed a certain number of hours of work, and it was great to be able to show recognition for their efforts.

Inmates on Cedar Creek Corrections Center’s Prairie Restoration Crew, past and present, receive recognition for their efforts over the past year in a graduation ceremony at the corrections center.

Inmates on Cedar Creek Corrections Center’s Prairie Restoration Crew, past and present, received recognition for their efforts over the past year in a graduation ceremony at the corrections center.

Three new graduate students have joined the conservation nursery team. The nursery programs will continue to flourish while providing life-changing experiences for both inmates and students who have the opportunity to work in them.

Clallam Bay Corrections Center Photo Gallery

Photos and text by Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Network Manager

On September 3rd, Evergreen’s SPP staff visited Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC). Corrections staff proved gracious and enthusiastic hosts. Hearing about their sustainability programs and plans for the future was well worth the trek from Olympia. Here is a photo gallery of some of the highlights:

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We were dazzled by their greenhouse–every food plant inside was the picture of health. We sampled peas, lettuce, and tomatoes, and appreciated what a difference fresh produce must make to a prison menu.

 

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The Food Services Manager and Gardener at CBCC have only worked together a few months, and already have figured out how to make the most of garden yields in the kitchen; a predictable harvest schedule has reduced grocery expenses, and meant that inmates opt to eat more lettuce.

 

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CBCC sits on 92 acres, and there is ample room for expanding the gardening program inside and outside the fence. This photo shows an area outside the the windows of the Intensive Management Units, a site for future garden beds.

 

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The prison already grows squash (shown here), carrots, radishes, spinach and other greens, herbs, and flowers. They have plans to add blueberries, rhubarb, and perhaps even gourmet mushrooms–crops that they know would be productive in their wet, mild climate.

 

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Here bok choy seedlings respond to the benefits of soil improved by compost–these sprouted much more quickly than those in unimproved soil.

 

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Prison staff have heard very positive feedback from inmates on the new garden program. It is incredible what they have accomplished this year, especially when you consider that they didn’t get started until June! Plans are to double their efforts in 2015, including using every inch of the central courtyard for growing food and ornamental plants.

 

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The prison has a vocational baking program that provides inmates with culinary experience and offers staff and the town bakery fresh-baked deliciousness.

 

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The prison has excellent waste sorting practices in place, and they are ready to expand their recycling and composting programs.

 

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They shared a vision of near-zero waste: a single trash can wheeled out to the curb from a facility housing nearly 900 men. We can’t wait!

 

Our thanks to our hosts Superintendent Obenland, Associate Superintendent Mike Tupper, Facilities Manager Jack Brandt, Gardener Mike Indendi, Food Services Manager Jerry McAffe, and Roots of Success Liaison Mark Black. We look forward to seeing your sustainability programs grow by leaps and bounds!

SPP Says Goodbye and Best Wishes to Dedicated Butterfly Technician

The Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly (TCB) rearing program at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women (MCCCW) was initiated in 2011. Inmate technicians first practiced raising painted lady butterflies in a new greenhouse just outside the facility’s gates. In less than a year they proved themselves more-than-capable at this kind of work. In 2012 they started rearing and breeding the endangered TCB.

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Carolina Landa was an inmate technician with the program from its inception. She was present for the first delivery of TCB caterpillars. She worked with SPP from 2011 to 2013 as a full-time technician. Then, while completing other programs at MCCCW she volunteered her time to support new technicians. Over the years she helped raise over 6,000 caterpillars and butterflies for release onto South Sound Prairies. She has created new and innovative husbandry practices, participated in butterfly research, and helped to train and mentor other inmate technicians along the way. Her dedication, passion, and commitment to the delicate and detailed work of raising butterflies, is a large part of the reason this new and unique program has proven successful. These early accomplishments ensured that SPP, DOC staff, future inmate technicians, and other SPP partners will have the opportunity to continue work to recover this federally listed species.

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Earlier this year Carolina wrote: “I just want to say that through these butterflies I have learned so much, and healed. It is amazing how God places all things in your life for a reason. This program has changed my life forever. I am so grateful for the knowledge, accomplishments and growth it has provided me. It is exciting to care for these beautiful creatures and giving back to the environment gives me a good feeling. ”

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Photo by Benj Drummond

In mid-July Carolina transferred from MCCCW into a Community Parenting Alternative (CPA) program. This unique and groundbreaking program allows an inmate to serve up to 12 of the last months of their sentence in Home Detention. The focuses of this 2010 legislation are on the child, family, and the importance of maintaining the family bond for inmates reentering the community. Due to the contributions Carolina made during her incarceration, she was granted this well-deserved opportunity to finish her sentence with her family.

This means that Carolina is no longer a butterfly technician at MCCCW. However, her contributions will stay with the program for years to come. She states that she would like to continue her involvement in the TCB rearing program as a volunteer or student after she is released. She intends to pursue an undergraduate degree at The Evergreen State College in the near future.

SPP would like to thank Carolina for all of her work with the butterflies and welcome her back into her community. We wish her the best of luck in all that she aspires to in the future.

Reaching higher at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center

The group tours CRCC's main campus.

The group tours CRCC’s main campus.

SPP Peer to Peer gathering

By Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Network Manager
All photos by Kelly Frakes, Capitol Programs

Twenty-two people gathered at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center (CRCC) for a two-day, high-intensity meeting at the end of June. This was a “peer to peer” event, funded in part by the SPP Network Conference Grant from the National Science Foundation. To make plans for CRCC’s sustainability programs, we brought experts (“peers”) in sustainability from Airway Heights Corrections Center and Washington State Penitentiary, WA Department of Ecology, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), and SPP staff from Washington Department of Corrections headquarters and The Evergreen State College. Many of CRCC’s administrative and operations staff joined the meeting, and they proved both gracious hosts and willing subjects.

The state of the art laundry facility at CRCC reclaims heat and water at multiple steps.

The state of the art laundry facility at CRCC reclaims heat and water at multiple steps.

The first order of business for the visitors was learning about CRCC’s campus and existing sustainability programs. CRCC’s main complex is Washington’s newest prison, opened in 2009. It holds the distinction of being the only LEED Gold Certified prison campus in the country. Linda Glasier from WA Ecology related that the extra costs incurred by meeting LEED Gold standards was paid back in about six months (through energy savings), and that CRCC is one of the state’s most resource-efficient complexes. This infrastructure could be the foundation for surpassing sustainable operations programs in a prison.

The central yard at CRCC reflects the need to use no water for irrigation. The prison is located in a desert.

CRCC is located in a desert. The stark central yard reflects the standard of using little-to-no water for irrigation.

One of the challenges faced by CRCC is How to bring nature inside without using more water?

One of the challenges faced by CRCC is How to bring nature inside without using more water?

After an initial welcome and setting the stage, the group toured many areas of the expansive campus: kitchen, warehouse, laundry, textile shop, a living unit, the main yard, and waste collection sites. We also visited the recycling center, housed in the older, minimum security area. All were impressed by the rigorous sorting and the impressive reductions in waste already accomplished. All were also impressed by the extreme heat outside—even though we were not in the heat of summer, many bodies were wilting in the hot, arid environment!

Kelley Thompson who runs the recycling center for CRCC shared the impressive programming already in place.

Shelley Thompson who runs the recycling center for CRCC shared the impressive operations already in place.

Graph showing CRCC's waste reductions over a four year period. Graphic courtesy of Kelley Thompson.

Graph showing CRCC’s waste reductions over a four year period. Graphic courtesy of Shelley Thompson.

Day two of the gathering was devoted to a marathon meeting. The group participated in a “brain dump,” committing to paper their ideas for sustainability programming. We also heard from our visiting experts. Linda Glasier from Ecology encouraged CRCC not to talk about “waste”. The materials called “waste” are actually commodities, and there are better uses and destinations for those resources than the landfill. Along similar lines, Sergeant Resor from the Correctional Facility at JBLM advised the group to “throw nothing away!”

The results of the brain dump were organized into topics, and the group voted to determine three top priorities for action:

  • Elimination of single-use plastics
  • Zero net waste
  • Education and culture change

With determination and focus, the group crafted action plans for the three initiatives. We emphasized immediate next steps and short term goals. We left the meeting with concrete commitments to further building on the already-excellent sustainability programs at CRCC.

"Sustainability guru" for CRCC, Sam Harris, talks with Linda Glasier from WA Dept. of Ecology and JBLM's Solid Waste & Recycling Program Manager Ron Norton.

“Sustainability guru” for CRCC, Sam Harris, talks with Linda Glasier from WA Dept. of Ecology and JBLM’s Solid Waste & Recycling Program Manager Ron Norton.

Cedar Creek Prairie Conservation Crew 2014

Carl Elliott, SPP Conservation Nursery Manager

Photos by Jaal Mann, SPP Conservation Nursery Coordinator

The 2014 prairie restoration crew.

The 2014 prairie restoration crew.

The 200,000 plant pots require a delicate and precise process of weeding.

The 200,000 plant pots require a delicate and precise process of weeding.

This is the second spring for a crew from Cedar Creek Corrections Center dedicated year-round to prairie restoration work. The program links community service to education and training in a range of ecological restoration skills.

The crew participates in every facet of restoration ecology on Puget lowland prairies in Thurston County. Their work is guided by regional land managers from The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources, and The Center for Natural Lands Management, and by SPP’s Conservation Nursery staff. Their activities are highly varied. Spring work centers on the identification and removal of noxious weeds, reducing brush and tree competition in oak savannahs, and identification of prairie sites with a high amount of native biodiversity. In summer and fall their tasks move to seed collection and cleaning as well as providing support for the prescribed burn crews.

Conservation Nursery Coordinator Drissia Ras demonstrates seed sowing techniques.

Conservation Nursery Coordinator Drissia Ras demonstrates seed sowing techniques.

More formal workshops and classroom education occurs while the crew works at the seed nursery managed by the Center for Natural Lands Management and the plant nursery (Shotwell’s Landing) managed by the Sustainability in Prisons Project. At the three seed farms in Thurston County, nearly fifteen acres are cultivated with more than 100 species of seed plants. The offender technicians receive training in plant identification, soil fertility, integrated pest management and a wide range of practical landscape skills. At the plant nursery, they develop adaptive cultivation skills: cultivation techniques that adapt to changing weather and plant needs throughout the growing season. They hone their abilities to monitor plant growth and manage pests to produce the highest quality plants. Adaptive cultivation management is particularly challenging when working with a group of native plants rarely or never grown before.

Crew members prepare early blue violet for plant out at the seed farms.

Crew members prepare early blue violet for plant out at the seed farms.

The plants produced at the nursery go towards the production of seed and habitat enhancement for the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. Our goal this year for SPP’s three nursery sites (Shotwell’s, Washington Corrections Center for Women, and Stafford Creek Corrections Center) is 400,000 plants. Outplantings will be a substantial contribution toward creating nectar and larval host plants at sites in Thurston County where the butterfly larvae and adults will be released. Other plants will be used for seed production–with increased availability of seed, even more prairie acreage can be restored. The offender technicians participate in all these efforts; as you can see, they are a primary force in the restoration and habitat enhancement for Puget lowland prairie species for future generations to enjoy.

A crew member scarifies (scratches the seed coat of) American vetch seed prior to sowing; this was done as a comparison study with unscarified seed.

A crew member scarifies (scratches the seed coat of) American vetch seed prior to sowing; this was done as a comparison study with unscarified seed.

 

A crew member covers sown seeds with a gravel cover; a gravel cover reduces moss competition and keeps light seed from floating to the surface.

A crew member covers sown seeds with a gravel cover; a gravel cover reduces moss competition and keeps light seed from floating to the surface.

 

 

WCCW Sustainability Workshop

by Tiffany Webb, SPP Lecture Series Coordinator

Inmates discuss sustainability while creating their group diagram. Photo credit: Joslyn Rose Trivett

On July 1, SPP offered a sustainability workshop at the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) as part of the Science and Sustainability Lecture Series. The workshop was led by Scott Morgan, the Sustainability Director at The Evergreen State College, with the help of SPP staff Lindsey Hamilton, Tiffany Webb, and Joslyn Trivett.

Regular lecture series attendees add colorful drawings to their diagram. Photo credit: Joslyn Rose Trivett

Scott opened the workshop by asking those in attendance what sustainability meant to them. Then the women split into small groups and he tasked them with creating a systems diagram of human needs, the natural resources necessary for those needs, and the positive and negative human impacts on these resources. While some focused on basic needs like food and water, others included things like “community and belonging” and “interaction with other living things.” The participants’ diagrams were creative, including innovative ideas for managing resources as well as beautiful, colorful drawings.

An inmate adds ideas for how to maintain important natural resources. Photo credit: Joslyn Rose Trivett

One group’s vibrant diagram. Photo credit: Joslyn Rose Trivett

At the end of the workshop, Scott covered a broad range of environmental success stories, offering resources and organizations that are making great strides in sustainability. The activities closed with an open discussion about the various topics that came up during the workshop, offering an outlet for the women to share their knowledge and experiences in sustainability.

A few women who participated in the workshop display their work. Photo credit: Joslyn Rose Trivett

After the workshop, many participants contacted the SPP liaison at WCCW with comments about the activities and lecture series.The image above shows a few of the messages that were received. Source: Paula Andrew, WCCW

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Certificates Too!

Before the workshop began, attendees were awarded certificates for on-going participation in the lecture series. This was the first round of certificates to be given out at WCCW, a recent addition to the lecture series. Women were awarded a certificate of science and sustainability education for attending 5, 10, 20 or more lectures throughout their time at the women’s center. Many women are already eligible for the next round of certification and have expressed excitement at receiving awards for their environmental education achievements!

Paula Andrew, the SPP liaison at WCCW, awards a lecture series certificate. The recipient has attended more than 20 lectures in her time at WCCW. Photo credit: Joslyn Rose Trivett

“Participating in the transformation of the world” : Roots of Success at Stafford Creek Corrections Center

Students meet in small groups to discuss the material

Roots of Success students meet in small groups to discuss the material.

By Amory Ballantine, SPP Roots of Success Coordinator
Photos by Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Network Manager

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

On Wednesday, May 7, I had the privilege of sitting in on my first Roots of Success class and, later, attending the previous cohort’s graduation ceremony. The class I visited is held at Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC) in Aberdeen and team-taught by inmate instructors. It was the second class in Roots of Success’s curriculum, titled “Fundamentals of Environmental Literacy.” I was moved and impressed by how the curriculum’s structure engages students in thinking critically about challenging technical concepts, and by the learning environment instructors and students have created.

Inmates in SCCC’s Roots program are clearly committed to environmental justice and to each other. Instructors and administrators encouraged students to generate ideas for institutional changes and to educate each other, drawing parallels between commitments to environmental sustainability and commitments to one another’s success.

We sat in the back of the classroom, behind twenty-seven students in khaki and beige. At the front of the room were flipcharts, a table, a podium, and three instructors: Grady Mitchell, Cyril Walrond, and David DuHaime. They took turns teaching for about an hour each, separating sections with short bathroom breaks. Now team-teaching Roots for the fourth time, the instructors are excellent at what they do. Their styles are unique, complementing each other well, and they worked together seamlessly. Mitchell’s presence is commanding and dynamic, DuHaime’s careful and personal, and Walrond’s heartfelt and encouraging. All of them joked with the room, putting us at ease, while gently challenging every student to contribute to discussion. Because they are inmates themselves, instructors use examples relevant to students, creating an environment which promotes collaboration and camaraderie. While teaching the concept of bioaccumulation, for example, Instructor Mitchell described the formaldehyde added to prison sheets to keep them from sticking together. “Shake an unwashed new sheet and you’ll see the powder that comes off! I sleep with a towel on top of the pillow now.”

Instructors DuHaime, Walrond, and Mitchell facilitate conversation about the waste cycle

Instructors DuHaime, Walrond, and Mitchell facilitate conversation about the waste cycle.

Instructor Walrond writes students’ answers during discussion of perceived obsolescence

Instructor Walrond writes students’ answers during discussion of perceived vs. planned obsolescence.

Instructors posed lots of questions to the class, who had good, interesting and insightful answers. They learned about waste and consumption cycles, how small amounts of toxins accumulate in our bodies over time (bioaccumulation), climate change, environmental justice, and more. Students’ diverse backgrounds and life experiences made for very interesting and enriching discussions.

They appeared wholly absorbed in a discussion of climate change, including concepts of “climate injustice” and environmental injustice. Instructors asked the class how global warming might impact health, and students came up with several examples of ways poor people might be affected: being unable to afford air conditioning in the summer or heat in the winter; keeping doors and windows shut in the summer because of safety concerns in high-crime areas; being unable to afford to go to the doctor when sick; being unable to afford insurance coverage for their homes in case of climate-related disasters. One student pointed out that you could say it was the other way around, and in fact social and economic injustice are exacerbated by climate change. In a discussion of planned vs. perceived obsolescence, someone shared the powerful insight that not only products, but people– including entire neighborhoods or communities–could be perceived obsolete.

A student asks if homes can be perceived obsolete, leading to discussion of perceived neighborhood obsolescence

A student asks if homes can be perceived obsolete, leading to discussion of perceived neighborhood obsolescence.

SPP Conservation Nursery Manual, 4th Edition: The Best Ever!

by Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Network Manager

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Prepared by Carl Elliott, Evan Hayduk, Jaal Mann, Brianna Morningred, and Drissia Ras.

I am super impressed by the hot-off-the-press, 4th edition  SPP Conservation Nursery Manual. The 4th edition represents the cumulative knowledge and effort of Carl Elliott, Conservation Nursery Manager, four Graduate Research Assistants, and suggestions and observations of numerous inmate technicians. All have worked together to make the nurseries SPP’s largest, most productive conservation program.

The nursery manual serves primarily as a reference for the inmates who propagate and care for rare and endangered species of prairie plants. For each of 50 species, the manual provides detailed, illustrated instructions for how to prepare, sow, water, fertilize, manage pests, and keep excellent records. With approximately 18 inmate technicians working at three nursery sites growing thousands of plants, such a reference is essential to success.

Beyond that, though, the manual  serves as a field guide, ecological text book, and provides the basics of botany and plant identification. Clearly, it is intended to link inmate technicians’ nursery work to the bigger pictures of ecology and restoration in the region. It is a gorgeous educational resource.

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A typical species overview in the new nursery manual.

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Many of the photos in the species descriptions, especially those of seeds and seedlings, have been taken by SPP’s Graduate Research Assistants.