After lunch pontification

Yesterday, we spent the early afternoon at the picnic tables outside of the Hjelm house. It was a lovely day save for the smoke in the air (see Jen’s poem). After we all ate lunch, Jared gave a talk, bringing the team up to speed on the work we do in the remnants. We learned all about the work that started in Staffanson and is now in 35 different prairie remnants in our area. And, though Echinacea will always be our darling study species, we’re starting to look more into other fun species, like different grasses and more forbs (shoutout to Liatris).

Jared giving an impassioned talk

Afterward, we did our annual team norms activity, where we discuss 4 questions pertaining to how we learn and conduct science and come together to agree on how we can best support each other this summer. With everyone contributing, we were able to come up with norms that we all liked. Hurray for discussion and repetition and communication and repetition!

Me with our responses to question 2 (I forgot to change the number on the board)

Golden hour all day

Above 100 AQI

Orange level alert

How do you manage to stay alive

During a field season, unhurt?

First of all expect

To be somewhat Crabby and Tired.

Your body is being wrecked 

Because Canada is on fire!

The first thing is clear-

Drink so much more water!

Not coffee, juice, or root beer

Your hydration must not falter!

Driving around from site to site

Use the Air Recirculation button!

Windows open? That’s not right-

Keep the smoke out and cleaner air shut in.

Echinacea! licorice, ginger, peppermint, 

Supports the respiratory system.

Make tea and inhale the steam for a minute

To relax and help out your alveolar ecosystem!

Pollinator Intros

Today as part of the orientation for the 2023 summer crew Dr. Jennifer Ison led a group in catching and identifying bees. The group loved running around the heliopsis in the garden trying to capture that elusive male Megachilidae “mason bee” with the big furry body and the green eyes. Unfortunately, we were so excited we forgot to get a picture. So you’ll have to take my word for it, but here’s a picture of the flowers.

Liam Poitra

Echinacea Project 2023

Environmental science university of mn-morris

Pronouns: he/him

Research interests: I am hoping to build on my knowledge of native flora and how they affect the environment around them, especially the soil characteristics. I would love to learn more about how deep rooted perennials affect the hydrology of the landscape.

Statement: I am from Virginia, MN

I started getting interested in native prairie plants when i was in high school working with conservation corps MN and IA in their youth program, I love being outside and spending time in nature. My hobbies include running, snowboarding, fishing, hiking, and gardening.

Big day for planting!

Today about half of the team got together and planted a new experimental plot. We all found our roles, worked efficiently, and got it done in 2 1/2 hours. Good work team! I’m excited to see what happens to the plot over the summer!

Little Guy in his Natural Habitat

A monarch butterfly caterpillar at the Runestone Park remnant which is abundant with milkweed, his favorite snack.

Thinking like an echinacea: a foolproof guide to finding seedlings

I spent the day searching for echinacea seedlings in our seed addition transects. With the help of Lindsey and advice from other seasoned experts, I have complied a list of tips and tricks that will lead to highly accurate data collection.


Upon arrival at a segment, announce yourself to the echinacea. Why have you come here and what are you doing?

Consider making an offering. Perhaps an invitation to collaborate in future studies, or the opportunity to review any relevant manuscripts.

Be gentle when combing through their home. Clumsy fingers lead to broken echinacea and broken hearts.

Of course, search actively! Change your angles and consider the topography. But also, let the echinacea find you.

Never stab your toothpick into an echinacea root. I think this needs no explanation.

Before your final sweep, verbally announce that you are done looking. This will most likely lead to the instant detection of one more plant. We can’t explain it, but it happens.

Say your goodbyes before heading off. Offer words of encouragement to the seedlings as they, too, have a long summer ahead.

Drink water

Slow start this morning drinking water as we waited for rain to pass so we could continue shooting ENRTF GPS points (we forgot it’s raincoat). After lunch we continued with more of the same work and saw some Heliopsis helianthoides conspiring with bees.

Cloudy with a chance of Geese Attacks

We started early today to beat the heat but instead were greeted with a cloudy and cool morning. Right off the bat, I started the morning by continuing to take some GPS points for the ENTRF-funded bee research project. While I was enjoying taking points in a site with minimal hills… other groups did not have the same experience. Public enemy #1 (Geese) showed their true colors by showering El with some “love”.

After lunch, I learned how to take samples of the amount of light available along some of our transects using a light meter. My biggest trouble was finding all of our nails in the ground!

Photosynthesis, planting, and points.

Lots of tasks today, one of which was sampling the amount of light available along some of our transects using a light meter!

These transects are part of our seeding experiment, and we added some lovely markers to help us spot some sprouting echinacea!

We also continued to establish new points for our upcoming emergence trap work and we saw several friends along the way.