Big Hat Friday!

When we arrived at Hjelm in the morning we were informed that the Elk Lake House had declared today Big Hat Friday! It was a hot day without a cloud in the sky, so the big hats were definitely appropriate.

The team split in half to do our morning tasks. One group went to finish up some flagging in the experimental plots to help us out later on in the summer, and my group went out searching for flowering echinacea. We headed out to Riley and East Riley to begin our search. Once we got there Jared gave us all a great demonstration on how to set yourself up to find the most echinacea. The key is to look silly while doing it! We found some to flag, but the bright sun certainly was not making it easy on us and I have a feeling that when we visit again there will be more plants to spot.

Alex and Jared in their big hats searching for echinacea

Before lunch we had a presentation from Jennifer Ison about her projects in p2 and then the whole team got to share short ABT’s about what we are interested in doing this field season. Then we were all off to p10 to flag and measure for the afternoon. Unfortunately, the flagging didn’t go as fast as we expected but we got it done and most of the team got their first introduction into measuring! It was a great finish to a fantastic first week!

Emma and Britney doing some of the first measuring of the year!

What a Productive Day!

Majority of our crew started off the day in Experimental Plot 1 to do some of our first stipa searching of the year. After getting some instruction from Stuart and some practice recording together, the group split up to test out their stipa searching abilities. When only finding two plants in my first row with Emma I felt a little defeated. I learned that finding stipa is much harder than it sounds. Thankfully we got some reassurance from Stuart that some rows may only have a few or even no stipa plants in them. We continued on and by lunchtime I felt a lot more confident in my ability to pick out the stipa in each row. 

After lunch and a quick discussion about our insect project the team split up. Most of the crew went out to start demo at Loeffler’s Corner. I paired up with Mia and we headed out to Transplant Plot to do some quick demo. It didn’t take us to long to find those flowering plants. After finishing up Transplant Plot I set out to meet the group that had gone to Loeffler’s Corner. When I got there I couldn’t believe how much they had gotten done already! It was like a sea of neon flags, exactly what I wanted to see! I helped the group finish up then we moved on to the Railroad and Riley sites. The afternoon was filled with demo but we got so much done. 

At the end of our very productive day we all headed home to get some much needed rest.

Observations at Landfill

The Landfill sites are a pair of hills separated by a small gully.

Landfill West was not burned this spring. When walking around the site, there was lots of duff and old plant material, making the soil difficult to see. In general, plants were around knee-height or higher. Bromegrass was abundant and flowering. The woody plants in Landfill West were green and lush, showing no signs of fire damage. Echinacea plants on this site were about 4-6 inches tall and it seemed like most of the ones we came across were not flowering.

Landfill East was burned this year. The burn line was very clear between the two sites. The previous year’s duff had been burned away and the soil was easy to see. It sounded crunchy to walk on. Plants were shorter than Landfill West, more around the middle of the calf. It was very easy to spot stipa everywhere, and much of it was flowering. The Echinacea plants on the east site were taller than the west plants, probably closer to 8-10 inches tall and a lot more of the ones we identified were flowering. 

Here are some of the flowering Echinacea Allie and I noticed at the East Landfill site!

Below is a look at the hillside of East Landfill. You can see some of the characteristics of this site are the grove of trees on the south end and a fence that runs along the north and south sides.

Kennedy Porter

Echinacea Project 2021

Senior, West Central Area High School 2022

Research Interests

I am most interested in studying the bees and other insects that are on the prairies. I am excited to see how they can affect the plant life and I am looking forward to studying their different roles in pollination and learning more about it.    


I am from Elbow Lake, Minnesota. I spend a lot of my spare time with my goats that I milk and show at fairs throughout the summer. I also enjoy running cross country, playing softball, reading a good book, and practicing taekwondo.  

Here’s a photo of me and Wendy!