Have you ever wondered what Long Island was like before large numbers of people settled here? Your seventh graders can tell you all about it! They recently visited Hempstead Plains Education Center (on the campus of Nassau Community College). This site preserves the last remaining prairie lands east of the Mississippi River. Yes! Long Island was populated with beautiful tall prairies grasses and native wildflowers, such as the Sand Plains Girardia. The Seventh Grade assisted the conservation efforts by collecting seeds of Switchgrass, a tall native grass. Betsy Gullota, the resident naturalist, will plant the seeds out later this fall, thanks to the collection efforts of our 21 seventh graders. Replanting this native species will help to remove invasive plants that dominate our landscape; Mugwort was one such plant we observed.
The trip was part of the Seventh Grade’s Science and Environmental Awareness Course, and was shared with the Eighth Grade who completed volunteer work at Hempstead Plains last year. The Seventh Grade is studying the Water Cycle and is working with a laboratory experience called Water on Earth. The students each recently completed a Water Inventory to determine how much water their homes use during a weekend. Water conservation and invasive species are on the minds of Seventh Grade as they continue to appreciate the precious resources of their Long Island home.