The Deer Park Prairie Education Program

NPAT seeks to provide opportunities to communities like Deer Park and the Houston area, to appreciate native coastal prairies and wetlands. The Lawther-Deer Park Prairie Education Program operates in an urban setting and teaches science and math through hands-on interactive learning. Education and awareness are key to the conservation of our Texas native prairies.

Our Education Program centers around Lawther-Deer Park Prairie, a 51-acre, never-plowed, native prairie remnant that is an excep­tional example of one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America. Less than 1%of the original 9 million acres of coastal prairie remains. Very few of these prairies can be found within an urban area. Read more about Deer Park Prairie.

To find out how to support this program, contact Della Barbato at [email protected]

STUDENT PRAIRIE PROGRAMS offer interactive classroom and on-site learning on the history of our coastal prairie, the story of Lawther-Deer Park Prairie, the ecology of prairies, their relationship to flood mitigation and water quality; and the importance of preserving our native wildlife and pollinators. The Prairie Learning Trunk (pressed prairie plants and synthetic animal skulls and pelts) , Enviroscape (3-D model depicting benefits of a prairie), and technology such as iNaturalist and Google Earth are utilized. TEKS-correlated lessons teach objectives such as animal adaptations, insect life cycles, the flow of energy, the prairie food web, and applications to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). A Prairie Art Contest is facilitated for students in grades 6 to 12.

BUILD A POCKET PRAIRIE at your school or organization. How? It’s easy, just pick a spot, prepare the land and plant your favorite grasses and native wildflowers. No Pocket Prairie is too small! The education program currently collaborates with The Rice School, Tanglewood MS, Katy HS and Carver Elementary to build Pocket Prairies on their campuses. Native prairies are more economical than lawns, using less fertilizer and water. The deep roots, which can grow 9 to 15 feet deep, act like sponges and absorb 14 times more water than typical lawns in a heavy rain event. Prairies also improve water quality as the roots filter the water. The aesthetic and health improvement qualities of a prairie are also valuable. Just imagine how much folks would enjoy Indian Paintbrush and Texas Coneflower at their location. Pocket Prairies serve as a valuable food source for our native pollinators, especially in the urban nectar deserts filled with lawn grass.

PRAIRIE FIELD TRIPS: There is no substitute for getting out on the prairie. Prairie Field Trips are offered at Lawther-Deer Park Prairie with TEKS-correlated lessons. Outdoor activities include a guided tour of the prairie, bird watching, seed collection, seed ball creation, and an insect sweep using a net. Deer Park Prairie is listed as an Open Outdoors for Kids (OOK) destination site, so bus transportation reimbursement is offered to fourth graders enrolled in a Title 1 School. Field Trips are also offered to Katy Prairie, MD Anderson, Rice University, Hermann Park’s Whistlestop Prairie and other Houston area Pocket Prairies. Service Projects: We encourage groups like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other youth service groups to volunteer at Lawther-Deer Park Prairie and develop these service projects into learning opportunities.

GIRLS ON THE PRAIRIE: A one-week Summer Camp for girls of minority backgrounds is being created for summer 2020. Applications will be sent to schools in the Deer Park area. Lessons will be targeted in the STEM areas. Only 10 will be granted to keep the camp small and increase the quality of learning and interaction.

TEACHER WORKSHOPS: Full-day Teacher Prairie Workshops, both on site and at school campuses teach TEKS-correlated lessons through hands-on experience. Prairie 101 focuses on the Prairie Learning Trunk and offers an inter­disciplinary approach for students to learn about prairies and the history of the coastal prairies in this area. Prairie 201 teaches prairie ecology, hydrology, history and how to create a pocket prairie.

Read more about Deer Park Education activities at DPP News.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: This program is funded through corporate grants and other donations. To find out more about how to support this education program, contact Della Barbato at [email protected] texasprairie.org.