Awards > Landscape > 2014 Recipient

Rachel Snyder Memorial Landscape Award

2014 Recipient

Chris Berensa

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT)

KDWPT Education Center Pollinator Garden


Chris Berens
Valerie Wright, Chris Berens, Phyllis Scherich by Mike Haddock

The KDWPT Pratt Education Center has a long history dating back to the early 1900's when the building was built and used as a fish culture college through the University of Kansas. In 1915 the building was converted to the administration headquarters of Kansas Fish and Game Commission and through the years converted to its current use for KDWPT. The first floor was always devoted to wildlife educational displays and open to the public. Welcoming visitors to the Education Center is a small outdoor pond with a rocked lined hill on the sides and background against the building. This small pond with surrounding landscaping feature has seen many different vegetative covers over the years. Prior to the initiation of the project listed above, the hill consisted of over grown ivy, cannas, hostas, various flowers, and a small pine tree (see attached photo).

In February 2013, a small group of conservation partners from KDWPT (Chris Berens, Ecologist) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) (Jamie Johnson NRCS Earth Team Volunteer Coordinator and Rita Schartz, NRCS District Conservationist) came together to discuss potential project ideas for developing native pollinator habitat that could also be used as an educational/demonstration area for the public. The small pond and hill location rose to the top of the list due to the availability to the public and connection with the pollinator habitat and the live bee exhibit located within the Education Center. This exhibit allows for the bees to leave the building to forage for pollen, nectar, water, and other plant resins and then return to the exhibit where they construct their hive as well as produce honey.

Once the location was selected, KDWPT and NRCS members started working with Chris Shrack KDWPT Pratt Education Center Info Rep. to provide the idea of planting native wildflowers as pollinator habitat and educational components of the plants and pollinators. Chris B and Jamie assessed the scope and inputs needed and recruited volunteers to accomplish the project. Volunteers through the NRCS Earth Team, Pratt County Extension, and Pratt Master Gardeners program were recruited to assist with the project (approximately 12 volunteers helped with the project). Without these partners the project would not have moved forward at the pace needed to be ready to plant in May 2013.

A meeting was held with all partners to discuss the need to address the ivy, pine tree, and other vegetation that was on the hill. Dates were set and people showed up to start the removal of unwanted vegetation from the site. Once the site was cleared, the area was tilled and any remaining ivy was sprayed with Rodeo herbicide that is safe for application around water. During this period of site prep work, Rita Schartz created a three season design for the pollinator garden which entails the emergence of blooms early, mid, and late within the growing season. KDWPT and NRCS consulted the Dyck Arboretum staff with the design and choosing of wildflower species for planting.

The group of organizers and volunteers gathered on a cold May 4th morning for the planting of native wildflower species purchased from the Dyck Arboretum. The group planted more than 27 varieties of native wildflowers and grasses with over 110 individual plants scattered throughout the project area. After a lunch provided by the Pratt County Conservation District; the group ended the day after spreading mulch around the pollinator plot. A few days later, waterline was installed with individual lines running to each plant. The master gardeners set a schedule for maintenance of the area on a weekly basis throughout the growing season. Watering was conducted as needed by KDWPT staff.

Throughout 2013, the master gardeners provided educational items at booths during several events held at the Pratt KDWPT Headquarters and Education Center. The pollinator garden project was awarded with the 2013 Kansas NRCS Earth Team Volunteer Group Award for the recruitment and use of volunteers for a conservation project. The successful project was featured in the Dyck Arboretum's 2014 Prairie Window newsletter.

In spring 2014, KDWPT met with master gardeners to assess the success of the planting almost 1 year later. We took inventory of what plants were still alive and those that needed replanting. After consulting with NRCS (Rita) and the Dyck Arboretum once again several plant species were chosen to replace those that didn't survive or to fill in areas that needed additional plants (approximately 15 individual plants did not survive and we added another 20 or more plants to help fill in). Additional mulch was once again added along with some maintenance and installation of additional waterline. The plants have responded very well to this location (see attached photos).

KDWPT and K-State Extension are currently working to design and develop signage for the pollinator garden that will help educate the public with plant identification. The master gardeners are also working to develop a brochure for the project.

KDWPT and K-State Extension are currently working to design and develop signage for the pollinator garden that will help educate the public with plant identification. The master gardeners are also working to develop a brochure for the project.

gardem before
Site before the pollinator garden was installed
garden prepped
Site prepped for planting
garden planted
Pollinator garden installed