Alternatives to Echinacea: a Monday with Milkweed and Liatris

Hey flog-heads! Welcome back to one more week of the Echinacea project; off to an exciting start with milkweed, measuring, birds-of-prey, total demo, wet shoes, visitors, visors, liatris, and as always … phenology.

This morning the team divided, some to continue remnant phenology on few remaining flowering echinacea while others went to start total demo on on behemoth of a site, Loeffler’s corner. I am grateful that Jo and I had the task of scoring milkweed at Bang and Hegg lake. We trekked through the dewy grass, Jo’s rubber boots repelling the water that my shoes invited in, leaving me to walk in puddles for the majority of the morning. Jared warns that soon enough that I’ll be dreaming of the abundant purple heads of Liatris aspera as I will see so many, but for now I revel in the excitement of the few flowering plants I was able to find today at Hegg. Along with Green Milkweed, we encountered three osprey, all upset by our presence, as well as a stickbug, pictured below.

Geena found a calf in the street, which when she asked politely to moooove over, they obliged (sorry Jared, I stole your joke, but its for the fans. You get it.).

At lunch, we welcomed Scott back to the Echinacea Project. An alum from 2016, Scott returned on his way back to Boulder, CO to make sure everything was still in working order. We were excited to hear his stories and gain some wisdom about the adventure into science, post-team Echinacea. Thank you Scott!

The afternoon brought with it measuring in P2 and P1 for the majority of the team, while Sophia and I ventured to Yellow Orchid Hill to begin mapping Liatris for my project. We found many more than previously expected, inspiring burgeoning hypotheses as to why. Soon, Yellow Orchid Hill West will be ablaze with purple. Maybe they’ll have to change the name.

Double Header: Thursday and Friday (Mia’s Last Hurrah)

They let me write for two days! Strap in. Thursday morning we began with a short walk through P8 to collect flowering phenology data. We found a total of 8 plants (and a whole lot of brome). We then continued the morning by re-rechecking P7 and P9. Mia found the first plant of the day and decided on the exclamation we would all have to say upon finding a new plant, “Bababooey!” Nate provided good vibes at lunch with by lighting incense at the picnic table, and the crew got to work shortly after with work on independent projects. Some met with the wise, invaluable members of the team to finalize projects (thank you Jared and Alex!) while others spent time in the field.

Andes crew spent time after work to visit Kennedy at the Grant County Fair. We had quite the time, getting the chance to see all types of farm animals while enjoying some barbecue and strawberry malts provided by Grant County 4-H. We met with Kennedy’s goats and her cow, Ollie.

Friday morning feel of bittersweet alacrity flooded Team Echinacea. As we remain excited for fieldwork and the weekend, we also realized that it was our last day working with our favorite in-house Visor guru, Mia. As always, Friday morning consisted of Phenology. Ever quick and efficient during peak phen, everyone finished their sites in time for a lunch with special guests from the University of St. Katherine, Dr. Rahul Roy and Dr. Tami McDonald. Many members of the team participated in big-hat Friday, donning their oversized (or perfectly large) brims. As a gift to Mia, the team then measured P1, her favorite task (I don’t know why don’t ask me). Jared even put a toe in the plot to appease Mia! After work, the team enjoyed root-beer floats and Mia’s stories of her time, here, on the team. However, Geena and I had to change her tire so that’s all I have pictures of. Sorry! In all seriousness, Mia was and continues to be a valuable member of this team, and her brilliance will echo through the annals of team Echinacea history. She will be missed.

Lazy Sunday at Andes Tower Hills

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” – Bertrand Russell

“So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.” – Franz Kafka

“Time’s fun when you’re having flies!” – Kermit the Frog

Heyyo! Not much to report here on the flog this sunday. As often as we choose to work, today we did not. Here at Andes, we have been taking advantage of our time off. Sleeping in, breakfast begins around 10:30 (for me). We’ve become fond of the pesto-egg, which is exactly what it sounds like. Frequenting our dining room table are other Andes staples, like hash brown patties, raisin-bran in oat milk, and strawberry toaster tarts. If you’re like me, you’ll have too much coffee just to sit around, while Jo prefers an iced chai latte. Sadly, we missed Sophia for most of the day, as she took a day trip to sunny St. Cloud, Minnesota to run a few errands that even the metropolis of Alexandria could not fulfill. Geena and I took a trip to O’Reilly’s auto parts to buy motor oil (for my car) and to the liquor store, to buy Everclear (for the yellow pan-trap project, not consumption). Jo stayed home, found a bird (dead) and napped. The rest of the day consisted of youtube videos about ants, walmart donuts, and laying on the couch. We took some time to start the process of bleaching a deer skull, found and donated by Brittany, pictured below. Jo made some Penne alla Vodka, a recipe by GiGi Hadid, in which we used farfalle rather than penne. It was delicious. At night, we watched Mad Psycho and discussed chronic wasting disease, which I started to feel like I could be developing by lying about all day. Sophia, as I write this, is making mac and cheese for our 4th of July potluck feast tomorrow, and I’m beginning to get hungry again. I am excited to canoe tomorrow, equally excited for phenology. This day of rest has been much needed, however one day is enough.

Joey McGarry

Echinacea Project 2022

Environmental Science and Learning Sciences, Northwestern University 2024.

Research Interests

I am interested in studying conservation ecology and plant biology. Most of all I am just happy to learn.


I grew up in central Connecticut but have since moved to Wilmington, NC. After a life on the east coast, I’m excited to experience the beauty of the midwest (outside of the Chicagoland area, where I attend school). I am happy to be able to work with such an amazing, friendly, and fun team of passionate folk! When I’m not working, I love to sail, write, listen to music, cook, bake, and enjoy some peace and quiet with my three dogs.