I have been teaching high school science for the past 16 years, with 15of those years with Omaha Public School District. I am currently teaching AP EnvironmentalScience and ACTE Clean Energy courses at Westview High School in theSustainability Pathway. I have spent the past five years working in collaboration with Dr. Ashlee Dere, geologist UNO in the study of prairie ecosystems to better understand the qualities and characteristics of the soils of the grassland biomes.
I became involved in the Prairie Project to broaden the scope of my knowledge of prairie grasslands and to learn new information and strategies to bring into my lessons through Environmental Science andBiology courses and to engage students in field experiences and hands-on learning opportunities.
The focus of my project that has developed through my involvement with the Prairie Project has been to create a comprehensive understanding of the history of the North American Prairies biome with regard to use and management of grassland resources, the ecosystem value the biome has to offer and raise awareness of invasive species that are threatening the grasslands.
Students visited our local Glacier Creek Prairie, managed by theUniversity of Nebraska at Omaha to conduct their own experiments about the impact of different types of land management on prairie grassland habitats, specifically comparing soil quality and biodiversity on moved versus burned tracts of land at this site.
Students designed their own experiments, collected and analyzed the data and then communicated their results and conclusions about how different types of land management affects soil characteristics and quality(nutrient composition, total carbon, soil texture) and the biodiversity of the tracts they studied. This was a great way to engage students in authentic science and real world issues and concerns about grassland conservation and management processes.