Day in the Life

Today was a full day for team Echinacea! Not only is it Elise’s first day on the team, but it’s also summer solstice. This morning Brittany and I went out to Staffanson Prairie Preserve West to finish shooting bb-points. While another team started flagging/planting P8 for a new experiment. The new common garden experiment being added to P8 involves planting prairie turnip to learn how to grow and measure the species while establishing a basis for future studies.

This afternoon was busy finishing up planting in P8 while a handful of others went out and set the first emergence traps for the season! Woot woot!

Many more updates to come, along with daily posts from other members of the team.

Hailey (left) and Maddie (right) flagging in P8.

Wyatt (left) and Elise (right) standing with some prairie turnip plugs.

Brittany (left) and Emma (right) planting some turnips in P8.

ALF West vs ALF East

For our first day we did direct observations with the goal of practicing your observational skills along with plant ID for our four plant groups of focus: C3 grasses, C4 grasses, legumes, and forbs. The group I was placed in looked at sites ALF East and ALF West. 

ALF West was our first stop. This site featured a fence line and natural hills that has been cut through by a gravel road. The site consisted mainly of C3 grasses. In the ditch and closer to the road we were able to see a handful of different legume and forb species, but the site lacked diversity in general. Due to this lack of diversity and over taking of C3 grasses the site appears to have not had a prescribed fire for a few years. Fortunately, we were able to see some emerging coneflower which is always exciting! 

ALF East was very different in diversity in comparison to ALF West. Based on visual observations diversity was a lot higher and most of the plant species found belonged in the legume and forb plant groups. With diversity being so much higher, and the plot featuring several plants that have appeared to have been scorched by fire it was our assumption that ALF West had experienced  prescribed fire in recent years. The landscape of ALF West not too visually different other than it featuring a corn field behind the prairie area unlike on ALF East. 

Maddie Sadler

Echinacea Project 2024

I graduated from Alaska Pacific University in 2022 with a B.S in Marine and Environmental Science with a concentration in Ecology and minored in Mathematics for Environmental Science. Currently I am an incoming graduate student at Northwestern University / Chicago Botanic Garden, pursuing a M.S. in Plant Biology and Conservation starting this fall.

Pronouns: She/They 

Research Interests

I am very much interested in restoration ecology and land management. Prairies have always had a special place in my heart as my mom worked to restore the 20 acres of prairie surrounding my childhood home. My biggest interest is looking into plant-pollinator resources post fire. 


I grew up in southeast Iowa, but have been living in Illinois for the past year and half. While there I worked for a land management company specializing in prairie restoration, invasive species removal, commercial herbicide application, and prescribe fires with many of the projects being contracted by Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

When I’m not working I love to be paddle boarding, hammocking, cooking a large meal, reading with my toes in the grass, or snuggling my 5-year-old tuxedo cat named Mo.