Ben’s Poster!

Here is a link to the poster I created for my independent project this past summer.


The efficiency of different collection and sorting techniques on the seeds of Galium boreale


August 21: Last day on the Job

Today was my last day of work for this summer. It was also Hattie and Per’s last days. They go back to school next week! It’s crazy how much this summer has flown by! To inaugurate my last day we started with rechecking demography records. We then had our last lunch with the Wagenius’ as a whole. They are headed off towards Chicago where Gretel, Hattie, and Per will be staying for the fall (Gretel will be back and forth). The afternoon became warmer and the sky cleared up. The rest of the team got trained in on how to harvest Echinacea heads in P1. I stayed behind to finish up some work on my independent project. At the end of the day Abby and Will left without saying goodbye (I wish you both good luck in the new school year and hope that excellent times come your way). But out biggest trouble was figuring out what to do with Ricarda/Ricardo/Erica/Rica/Ric/Rick/Richard/Ricky. We debated whether to let him go on the grape vine outside the Hjelm house or to bring him back to town hall. We ultimately decided to let Ricarda/Ricardo/Erica/Rica/Ric/Rick/Richard/Ricky go on the grape vine outside of the Hjelm house.

We then headed home for our usual Friday night pizza making session! We made wonderful veggie, sausage and green pepper, and pineapple pizzas! We then went outside to watch the sunset through the smoke from the wildfires in Montana and Washington. The sun was a beautiful orb of orange as it set over the soybean fields to the west of K-town. Then someone put Kent in the shower.

Well hello there Kent!

Well hello there Kent!


Today is Taylor’s last day which is really sad because she is a cool cat who will be greatly missed. This summer would have been very different without Taylor. She has brought lots of joy and laughs to the town hall. Taylor will be missed dearly.

Taylor is heading out to the Chicago Botanic Gardens to present her poster on the invasive potential of Echinacea palida! She’s been giving us her pitch frequently and it is sounds really good. Good luck to Taylor at the Chicago Botanic Gardens and with all of her adventures in the future! We better see you soon!


In other news it was superhot and humid today. We got treated last week and Monday with cooler and less humid days. Much of Team Echinacea has been zipping off our pant legs and kicking off out shoes in favor of our sandals in spite of the possibility of Chiggers and ticks. We did a little bit of phenology this morning. It did not take long because there were only 26 plants to visit in the remnants. It’s crazy because it does not seem like it was long ago that we were spending all day doing phenology. After phenology we spent all day measuring Experimental Plot 1. I got to spend some time by myself Harvesting Galium for my independent project. We also made a Friend who we named Eric!

Our friend Eric!!

Our friend Eric!!


Everyone wore the tye dye that we made on Sunday! IT LOOKS AMAZING!!!

Model life

Model life



July 30: Video Tapes and horse rides!

This morning started off beautifully with slightly slower winds than yesterday, perfect for crossing Q3 plants. The team crossed all the Staffanson and Landfill plants before lunch! I was tasked with capturing video for an instructional video on how to cross pollenate plants so that future team members could view the procedures at any time. I had a lot of fun documenting each member of Team Echinacea pollenating various plants across the experimental plot. In the afternoon Stuart again tasked Taylor and me with working on a short video documenting the correct way to flag, tag, and twist tie a new plant in the field.

Making Taylor's dream of being a an actress come true!

Making Taylor’s dream of being a an actress come true!


After Taylor and I completed the filming for the flag, tag, and twist tie video Abby, Gina, and I headed over to Hegg Lake where I was able to test out the vacuum harvester I am borrowing from the DNR, I was also able to think about my experimental design and figure out what needed to be done.

After Work the team got cleaned up at home and headed to Matt’s house for some kebabs and a bonfire. Matt was gracious enough to allow us to ride his horses and gave us lots of vegetables from his garden. For most of us this was our first time riding a horse which was very exciting!



July 22: Taylor Day!

Today is Taylor’s Birthday! Today she turned 19 years old. Gretel made a wonderful chocolate cake with caramel in the middle for Taylor which we got to eat at lunch when we all sang Happy Birthday to Taylor. Later Taylor made us all some delicious fish tacos for dinner (she wished to cook on her birthday) and we celebrated with another homemade cake!

Taylor and her first cake of the day!

Taylor and her first cake of the day!


Taylor’s birthday was the most important part of the day but we did do some work today. In the morning Will and I went out to Staffanson to collect pollen for the Q3 experiment. In the afternoon much of the team did cross pollenation of Landfill plants for the Q3 experiment. I worked on clearing P1 of any Birdsfoot Trefoil. I was able to extract nine plants from the experimental plot, each of them witha large taproot.

The newest member of Team Echinacea

The newest member of Team Echinacea


Yesterday I made lots of headway on my independent project! I met with Jason Strege from the DNR to discuss mechanical methods of seed collection. Jason also brought along this beauty. It was bought by the DNR to be tested as a vaccum collection method. In the comming weeks I will be doing some testing with different nozzle sizes to attain the optimal settings for seed collection.

July 13: A Sonnet for the flowers

We put the GPS units away,

And began a day of phenology in the purest,

The amount of flowers we saw was cray,

our maps made our observations the surest.


I jumped in a car and went not at all far,

To the virgin plains of Staffanson,

Where few tree do the landscape mar,

We toiled restlessly unti lthe work was done.


The sun rose high in the sky,

I prepared the plots for the plunder of seeds,

Through the prairie I did fly,

With dreams of harvesting seeds to stop weeds.


Peak flowering has almost begun,

With the flowers thriving in the heat of the sun.


To bee or not to bee

To bee or not to bee

June 28: Water from the sky and the brush

After Lea’s flog post last night it began to rain, extremely hard. Being the nature lovers we are, we decided to hang out on the front porch and watch the rest of the storm come in to town. There was a beautiful break in the clouds which produced wonderful views of various layers of clouds with beautiful colors. The rain then came down harder and harder. Then, a wonderful idea gripped us all. We ran out from the cover that our stoop provided us and began dancing and splashing in the rain! It was some of the most fun we’ve had yet!

The beautiful clouds from last nights storm

The beautiful clouds from last nights storm


Having some fun in the rain!

This morning started slow with some blank stares into the refrigerator while attempting to decipher the answer to the questions of breakfast, life, the universe, and everything. Everyone eventually came to a conclusion on the first (and most important) item. Personally I cooked up a nice three egg omelet. The morning was lazy but we ended up heading over to Elk Lake for some good times on the water! While we were there Gina pulled out her water colors and decided to teach some of us to learn how to paint! I got to do water colors for the first time since probably fifth grade which gave me a whole new perspective on the endeavor. I was able to accurately represent what, if you squint hard enough, looks like an artistic version of Elk Lake. Gina on the other hand painted a detailed masterpiece of Elk Lake. The trees look like trees and the grasses look like grasses! We then went swimming and returned to the town hall to have multiple variations on the classic dish rice and beans. It’s been a great second week and I am looking forward to the next few weeks as Echinacea begins to flower!

Gina and Ali painting with water colors beside Elk Lake

Gina and Ali painting with water colors on the shores of Elk Lake

Visit to the Nessman Study Site

On our bikes, Amy and I crested the hill on Dairy Drive and received a view of the fields below. Somewhere below us would be the Nessman study site. We biked along the road to find the study site and ran into a dairy farm with very cute cows. After some deliberation and consultation of the map, we turned around and arrived at the Nessman Study Site. As Amy looked out over the study site straining her eyes for an Echinacea angustfolia, she noted the large amount of brome present next to the road. She then looked into the field beyond where she observed a distinct line between the brome and another field. Amy said that it is likely that there has been some sort of grazing or agriculture on that field because of the uniform height of grasses and other plants in that area. Out in the field Amy was brokenhearted when she realized that we could only identify invasive plants such as dandelions and Poa. Although there was mostly invasives in the field we could hear and see many birds in the surrounding area. A small bumblebee even joined us as we observed the large field. With her knowledge of geology and construction processes Amy determined that the ditch was caused by the building of the road and that the field had been smoothed out from the undulations of a prairie by agriculture. We then began to ride back and started to see more native species such as the prairie rose which lifted our spirits.