Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Prairie Ridge News & Events

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project Training at Prairie Ridge

MLMP workshop groupLast weekend, we welcomed a group of citizen scientists to Prairie Ridge for a Monarch Larva Monitoring Project training.  Thanks to a partnership with Susan Meyers, an environmental educator from Georgia, we were able to both offer the training and provide free monitoring kits to all of the participants.  During the workshop, our citizen scientists learned about Monarchs and received hands-on training in how to identify the eggs and 5 larval instars of the caterpillars.  Then we headed outside to practice the monitoring protocols in one of the Prairie Ridge milkweed patches.  One of the goals of the workshop was to encourage the participants to find and monitor milkweed patches of their own and we've already received word from several citizen scientists that they are putting their new knowledge and kits to good use!

Many thanks to Susan Meyers for giving us the opportunity to offer this fun and informative workshop and providing the kits to our citizen scientists.  We may offer another similar workshop this fall, so look out for it on the Prairie Ridge calendar!

-- posted 5/16/15

Gnomes and Fairies Coming Soon to Prairie Ridge!

Our popular Gnomes and Fairies Spring Up on the Prairie event is returning to Prairie Ridge on May 2, 2015 from 9am-noon.  This annual springtime celebration includes fun activities, games, and nature play and exploration geared toward our young visitors.  This year's event will feature mud kitchen chemistry, seed planting, bubbles, gnome and fairy house building, costumes, a nature story and more and will culminate with the annual Parade of Gnomes and Fairies.  Help us celebrate spring at this fun and educational family event!

For more information, please visit the event listing on the Programs & Events page.

-- posted 4/25/2015


Statewide Star Party Returns to Prairie Ridge

Star Party photo boothPrairie Ridge has been a part of the NC Science Festival's Statewide Star Party celebration since it began in 2013 and it has proven to be a very popular event each year.  The third annual Star Party was no exception!  Nearly 200 people visited Prairie Ridge to view planets and stars with our Raleigh Astronomy Club partners and participated in a variety of fun and educational activities in our Outdoor Classroom.  One straw powered rocket flew a whopping 31 feet and our astronomy-themed photo booth was a huge hit!  We also collected citizen science data for two astronomy projects and taught vistors about the composition of the planets in our solar system through an educational display created by one of our fabulous Prairie Ridge interns.

Thanks to the Raleigh Astronomy Club and all of the volunteers who made this event a rousing success once again!

-- posted 4/25/2015

DENR Employees Tackle Drainage During Annual Workday

the new dry streambedEach year near Earth Day, employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have the opportunity to volunteer at a variety of sites throughout North Carolina to help with conservation and natural resources.  This year, we had nearly 40 DENR employees visit Prairie Ridge to help us build a dry streambed that will alleviate a drainage problem near our Outdoor Classroom. 

As many people know, we harvest rainwater from our Outdoor Classroom roof and store it in a cistern for use in flushing toilets, cleaning, and watering.  However, when the cistern fills, the overflow runs down the hill from the Classroom into the Nature Playspace.  This flow erodes the hill and creates swampy conditions in parts of the Playspace.

We are tackling the problem in two phases.  The DENR employees completed phase one, the dry streambed.  The new streambed directs water into a rock-lined channel that will control flow and minimize erosion.  We will install a rain garden in phase two, giving the water traveling down the new dry streambed a place to go once it reaches the Playspace.  The rain garden will also provide a new place to grow native plants that don’t mind getting their feet wet now and again.

While most of the work crew focused on the construction of the streambed, some of our volunteers worked to upgrade the fossil pit area of the Nature Playspace.  A new pit will be installed soon and will improve the space for our young fossil-loving visitors.

Thank you to all of the DENR employees who helped make this project a huge success.  We are thrilled with what you were able to accomplish and have already seen great results from your efforts!

-- posted 4/25/2015


New Pollinator Garden Planted at Prairie Ridge

pollinator garden crew after plantingPrairie Ridge has a beautiful Nature Neighborhood Garden, plantings in the Nature Playspace, and native plant areas along the Forest Trail, but we now have a brand new garden for visitors to enjoy on the grounds!  Our new pollinator garden is located by the Prairie Ridge entrance off the Reedy Creek Greenway and feature plants attractive to native pollinators.  With many native pollinator species in decline, the garden will make nectar and pollen sources available to a wide variety of species throughout their season.  It will also act as an educational garden to inform visitors of pollinator conservation as well as pollinator firendly plants that anyone can plant in their gardens.  Site preparation for the new garden began almost two years ago, so we are thrilled to see the new garden in place and look forward to observing the pollinators that use it!

Special thanks to the attendees of our Pollinator Gardens workshop who planted, watered, and mulched the new garden!  The workshop attendees made quick work of a large project and their efforts will be enjoyed by thousands of visitors over the next serveral years. 

-- posted 4/14/2015

Chimney Swift Tower, Now Under Construction!

Chimney Swift Tower against forestConstruction of the Prairie Ridge Chimney Swift tower began a few weeks ago and great progress has been made so far! Though it’s too late for the birds to use it this year, the tower itself has been completed and awaits the arrival of the birds next fall.

The brick tower, designed by local architect Frank Harmon and funded by Wake Audubon, provides habitat that the birds seek as they aggregate in the fall prior to migration. It is hoped that the tower will attract a large aggregation of Chimney Swifts each fall.

While the tower structure has been completed, the technology that will allow researchers to study the birds inside the tower has not yet been installed, nor have the viewing areas for the tower. Once installed, the viewing areas will allow visitors to relax on benches as they watch the Chimney Swifts return to their roost inside the tower during evenings in the fall.

We eagerly look forward to completion of the rest of the tower complex and hope that Chimney Swifts will colonize their beautiful new structure next fall!

— posted 11/21/2014


Looking for an older Prairie Ridge news story?  You can find it in our News Archive!