The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 22, 2014

Prairie State Park beautification project finishes in under two hours

MINDENMINES, Mo. — Come next spring, Prairie State Park’s entrances will be lined with colorful blooms thanks to volunteers who rolled up their sleeves on Saturday to plant various forbs common to healthy native prairies.

More than 60 people of all ages arrived at the park Saturday morning and, with shovels and a little elbow grease, planted about 4,000 plants at the north and south entrances.

It was the first time the park had recruited volunteers for a beautification project, said Dana Hoisington, an interpretive resource specialist with Missouri State Parks.

“I always thought the entrance to the park was a little blah,” he said.

The project was slated to last from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. but was completed in less than two hours.

“It’s amazing how fast 60 people can plant 4,000 plants,” Hoisington said.

Bonnie Hinman, of Joplin, and her two grandsons worked at the south entrance where they were within eyesight of bison that roam freely throughout the prairie.

The older of the two grandsons, 8-year-old Will Cooper, tried his hand at shoveling, but his 7-year-old brother Brody wasn’t quite big enough yet. So Brody helped his grandmother place the plants in the ground.

“They like to go on adventures with Grandma,” said Hinman, who recently began taking classes to become a master naturalist.

Hinman said she grew up on a crop farm near Lamar but that she wanted to learn more about the science behind nature. In January, she started taking a class with the Chert Glades Missouri Master Naturalist chapter in Joplin.

Hinman said it was the first time she had been to Prairie State Park, and she earned volunteer hours for the class by planting.

“It’s all been really interesting,” she said, adding she was happy to share the experience with her grandsons.

“I would like for them to learn more about the outdoors,” she said.

Brian Miller, natural resource steward for the park, said the beautification project was part of the ongoing restoration of the park in general. He said about 80 percent of the 4,000-acre park is original tallgrass prairie but that the quality and the stages of restoration vary.

The project was initially scheduled for last weekend. Because of low temperatures and frozen ground, it was rescheduled.

Hoisington said he was and wasn’t surprised by the number of volunteers who showed up, because he knew that the master naturalist chapter would be helping out. But the nice weather drew additional volunteers.

Katharine Spigarelli, of Farlington, Kan., said she completed the master naturalist class in 2010.

“These are the kinds of these we do a lot of,” she said, while kneeling to place a plant in a freshly dug hole.

Spigarelli said the classes and working on so many projects has added knowledge to her passion for the outdoors.

“It’s given me so much information on things I have been in love with all my life,” she said.

Because the project was completed so far ahead of schedule, Hoisington said the park decided to reward volunteers with an “impromptu bison hike.”

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