By Brittany Nulph, Jennings Environmental Ed Center Intern
On an unusually warm January 21st, the community in and around Slippery Rock donated part of their Saturday, and all of their stomachs, to participate in Prairie Improvement Day at Jennings Environmental Education Center in Butler County.
Jennings is unique to the Pennsylvania state park system, as it is home to the easternmost managed and protected prairie in the United States, and the only managed and protected prairie in the state of Pennsylvania.
The Jennings prairie is habitat to rare and endangered animals and some unusual plant species.
That being said, Jennings draws many visitors of all walks of life who come to see this amazing and unique ecosystem. In preparation for the upcoming season, Jennings, for the past fifteen consecutive years, has implemented Prairie Improvement Day.
This year, more than 80 volunteers dedicated their time to help improve the conditions of the prairie. Volunteers including boy scouts cut and removed four large, fully grown trees from the prairie.
Volunteers also removed small woody growth, such as Shingle Oak, and Dogwood saplings from specific areas in the prairie.
For lunch, 9 local restaurants and Jennings staff donated sixteen different kinds of soup, including vegetarian options. Each volunteer received a commemorative soup mug as a thank you for their time and service.
Prairie Improvement Day 2017 was a complete success, and Jennings Environmental Education Center hopes to keep the tradition going to involve the community in the care and maintenance of the prairie and get folks outdoors during the chilly winter months.
Jennings encourages everyone to visit the park in the upcoming season and enjoy the many features it has to offer: a unique combination of prairie and forest, a wide array of resource and education opportunities, miles of scenic hiking trails, and the 20-acre prairie ecosystem - home to distinctive prairie plants and the endangered massasauga rattlesnake.
We hope to see new and return visitors at Jennings soon - come and appreciate the fruits of the labor on this successful day!(Reprinted from the March issue of The Catalyst newsletter published by the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition. Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)