The team arrived to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on May 18th 2011. With one exception, Rose’s original flight was canceled and she did not arrive until the following day (this would become on ongoing theme for the team). Once the team was united training began. Our first training exercise was centered on the Student Conservation Associations core values (Community, Diversity, Learning, Service, and Environmental Stewardship). Several games were played to get the team familiar with each other. Arts and crafts took up the remainder of the morning. By the end of the day the apartment looked more like an unfurnished fifth grade classroom than an apartment housing adult interns. Following nap time and snacks, the team departed to meet the park Botanist, Dan. Dan introduced himself and provided us with a nice tour of the greenhouse where we became familiarized with some of the plant species we will be working with this summer. After the greenhouse tour our project leader Adam took us to see our work site “Cowles Bog” for the first time. This was followed by a trip to West Beach were we hiked a successional trail and took headshots for the blog.
On the second day of training the team met at the National Park Station for a botany review and history lesson. We began the day drawing plants to identify later. We then reviewed plant characteristics that we will be using this summer to identify plants within the park. Afterwards the park Botanist Dan gave a wonderful presentation on the history of Cowles Bog. This provided the team insight into the importance and uniqueness of the area we will be working to restore all summer.
The team woke up early to participate in a volunteer event geared towards restoring the Mnoke Prairie. Following a stretch circle at the National Park station, the team met another park employee “Laura”. Laura provided a short history of Mnoke Prairie. Mnoke Prairie is the only restored prairie in the park. This prairie was named by the Pottawatomie and translates into beautiful land. Next the team loaded up the truck with native prairie plants and followed Laura to the prairie. Unfortunately we were not joined by additional volunteers. Over the course of three hours the team and Laura planted 692 native prairie plants in the Mnoke prairie. It was pretty baller.