The Northwest Illinois chapter works in the Driftless Area of Illinois. The area contains hill prairie, oak woodland, sand prairie, oak savanna, sedge meadow, oak barren, and tallgrass (black soil) prairie. We work to protect, restore and manage these fire-dependent habitats.
NIPE projects are primarily located within Jo Daviess, Carroll, and Stephenson Counties in Illinois. We invite you to join us!
What's NewNIPE is fortunate to have volunteers and staff of many ages, backgrounds, and skills. From scientific research to hands-on production, the efforts of Noah Haskin and Dian Strenski provide two examples of how this diversity helps prairie restoration and management.
Noah Haskin, now a college sophomore at Illinois Wesleyan University and pictured to the right, started working with NIPE when he was in high school. His interest in prairie management continues to grow, and he has an ambitious research project in mind: This summer, Noah will begin to assess whether the relationship between prairie plant roots and mycorrhizal soil fungi differs in original prairie remnants and managed restorations. In this symbiotic relationship, the fungi colonize the host plant’s root system with filaments that absorb the plant’s sugars. In return, the fungi help increase the plant’s ability to absorb soil nutrients. Since mycorrhizal interactions are an important part of native prairie ecosystems, we should understand whether and how effectively restoration practices promote healthy mycorrhizal community structures.
Seed Picking Aprons
For the past eight years, Dian Strenski, NIPE volunteer and mother of NIPE’s land manager Ed Strenski, has been making the seed collecting aprons sported by many of our prairie seed pickers. Other NIPE members Beth Pomaro and Barbara Rutherford had put together the first aprons, using old seed bags and attaching waist straps made of fabric they had on hand. When Ed began working at a local winery, he substituted vineyard trellis wire for the coat hangers which originally kept the pouches open. Knowing his mother’s skill with a sewing machine, he asked Dian whether she would help with the assembly.
She agreed, so NIPE purchased seed bags in quantity and substituted strapping for the fabric ties. Dian (pictured to the right) began sewing aprons on the trusty machine she purchased in 1958 and still uses. We always have the aprons on hand for volunteers to use on our seed picking days. Aprons are also available for purchase on the TPE website. Just click here: https://www.theprairieenthusiasts.org/store_home.asp
A photo below of seed pickers putting the aprons to good use.