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.

Beat the Heat!

To counter expected high temperatures, we started earlier in the morning with GPS points for the ENTRF-funded bee research project and found some cool plants. After lunch, some of the team continued to stake and shoot points, while others planted some green comet milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora) seedlings in a previously burned site. We also saw a baby Pheobe on the deck after it attempted to fledge.

One of our hard-working employees finding points with our handy dandy GPS units.
Pheobe fledgling (or attemptee).
Alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii) at one of our sites.

Blaire Reuter

Echinacea Project 2023

West Central Area High School 2025

Pronouns: She/Her

Research Interests

I want to study all varieties of wild flowers and native grasses. I also wish to learn about how the environment affects them and the impact they have on the ecosystem around them. i am also very exited to be part of a team and learn how a research project like this one works!


I am from Hoffman, MN

In my spare time I like to hang out with friends, run, listen to music, and go hiking to explore the outdoors.

Hi milkweed, bye Alex, what’s an emergence trap?

On a hill planting milkweed

We know each plant’s mother.

From every milkweed seed,

Distinct one from one another.


Chocolate cake and thin mints

For Alex’s last day!

We’ll try to follow in her footprints

And maybe make her stay.


Experiments in efficiency-

Catching bugs the best way

Practice until proficiency

How do you catch bugs and make them stay…?


Emergence traps! are tents for bugs

That they can not get out of

So we can see each fuzzy mug

And identify and count them up all up so we know which ones appreciate a post fire environment and which ones do not.

Victoria Romero

Echinacea Project 2023

High School Teacher- Peachtree Ridge HS, Suwanee GA

Pronouns: she/her

Research Interests

I want to learn all I can about prairie grass! I currently teach 9th grade biology. This summer I am focused on project based learning and incorporating Team Echinacea’s work into the classroom. I live far from any prairie but want my students to have the opportunity to learn from engaging and inquiry based lessons about prairie ecology. 


I am from Suwanee GA

In my spare time I like to embroider and go on long walks. 

Outreach day at the park!

Around 80 8th grade students from Morris Junior High came by and learned about tools used in prescribed burns, plant identification, how to develop hypotheses, and methods for finding and trapping native bees!


Other members of the team established points for our ENRTF-funded pollinator project, a rare species (Teeny catus) was spotted at the Hjelm House, and we all had watermelon at the end of the day to cool off.

Fannie Liang

Echinacea Project 2023

Biological Sciences (Ecology Concentration) & Psychology, Northwestern University, 2024

pronouns: she/her

Research Interests

As someone coming from a pre-health background, I am still exploring my interests in the different areas of plant research. I am interested in learning more about native plants, conservation, and plant ecology. I am also interested in learning more about human and animal interactions with plants.


I am from Chicago! I have always been interested in science and biology, so going into pre-med/pre-health seemed like the most rational decision to make. However, after taking more biology classes involving plants and ecology, I became more interested in plant ecology and human-plant/animal-plant interactions.

In my spare time, I like to knit/crochet (would love to get back into embroidery and sewing), spend time by the lakefill, watch dramas, and be a virtual farmer in Stardew. This summer, I would love to explore the garden more and to learn more plant names.