The Deer Park Prairie Education Program
The Education Program has gone hybrid!
During pandemic restrictions on group activities, Education Director Della Barbato created several videos to keep students (and adults) connected to the prairie and to nature. Thank you to our donors and sponsors for making this important learning experience available so we can help save Texas prairies.
We’ve created the Field Trip to Deer Park Prairie series to get you closer to this coastal prairie. During these times of quarantine, you can see the prairie virtually with these videos, study the plants and insects, and even make some art! Scroll down to see what we’ve got in store.
Fall Wildflowers, Grasses, and More: Take a fall walk with NPAT on our Lawther-Deer Park Prairie. We’ll show you some of the fall-blooming wildflowers and grasses, as well as the insects that love them. And learn more about the birds that live around the prairie.
Teachers, you can download our companion guide here:
A Closer Look at Insects: Della Barbato and volunteer Chuck Duplant give you a closer look at some insects that are found on Lawther-Deer Park Prairie.
Spring Wildflowers and Grasses: Della Barbato takes us on a spring plant walk at Lawther-Deer Park Prairie. She will introduce you to some of the wildflowers and grasses that are grow there.
Master Naturalist Tom Solomon talks about how to collect native plant seeds at Deer Park Prairie.
Pressing Wildflowers: Della Barbato shows us, step by step, how to turn wildflowers into a piece of art by pressing them.
The Wonder of Insects: Della shows you how get started with the study of insects. She talks to kids about why insects are so interesting and important to us.
The City Nature Challenge for 2020 is over, but documenting for iNaturalist and citizen science can be done at any time. You and your kids can document for iNaturalist any time of year. Find wild things, photograph them and document them on iNaturalist. Learn Citizen Science and have fun!
What is Deer Park Prairie?
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.
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.
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.
CREATE 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 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. Join the discussion at Pocket Prairie Teachers on Facebook.
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.
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.
Read more about Deer Park Education activities at DPP News.
Thank you to our sponsors!
A special thank you to Shell Oil Company for their ongoing support since 2019 of our prairie education. We are also grateful to:
- Reliant Energy for their $20,000 grant in Nov. 2021 to fund student classroom education in select Houston Metro Area schools and the construction of a new pocket prairie.
- The Galveston Bay Estuary Program for $19,000 to benefit our student education, field trips, and teacher training.
- The HDR Foundation for a July 2021 grant of $10,120 to fund supplies for our Girls Summer Camp.
- The participants and sponsors of our “Twilight on the Prairie” celebration on April 23, 2022.
Your individual gift is also essential to making prairie education and nature accessible and inspiring to the young and not-as-young!