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TS08 – Preserving the Future: Monarchs, Wetlands and Prairies

June 19, 2023 @ 7:45 am - 5:00 pm

$105

If you love being out in nature and being inspired by what others who care are doing to preserve and sustain the environment, this is the tour for you. Preservation and sustainability are at its heart as you venture over to Lawrence, Kansas.

  • Wetlands are a major player for preserving the future and the Baker Wetlands are doing their part. These 927 acres on the open prairie are home to hundreds of species of animals and plants. Wetlands are vital to human life and planet life, and indispensable for the critical “ecosystem services” they provide. If you’re a birdwatcher, you’ll especially love the Baker Wetlands.
  • Created in 1992 by KU professor Dr. Chip Taylor, the Monarch Watch lab will fill you with optimism and hope for the future. We all know the future of monarch butterflies is in trouble and they need our help. See what Dr. Taylor, his staff, and thousands of volunteers across the U.S., Canada and Mexico are doing to preserve the future of the monarch. The lab is rarely open to the public, so don’t miss this chance to join the staff and see the lab’s inner workings.
  • Walk through the very first Monarch Way-station (butterfly habitat) maintained by the Douglas County Master Gardeners. It’s spectacular.
  • It would almost be sacrilegious to be in Kansas and not experience the tallgrass prairie. Walk the Rockefeller Prairie Trail and go back in time and see the vanishing tallgrass prairie exactly as it was 8,000-10,000 years ago, unplowed and untouched. View what the first settlers saw in the 1800s as they crossed the Great Plains and moved westward. Breathe in the prairie, hear the birds, and feel the wind on your face.

So! Come and see what colors nature is wearing the Monday before the conference officially kicks off.

BONUS: For basketball fans, the bus drives by Allen Fieldhouse on the University of Kansas campus, the shrine to the inventor of basketball, James Naismith. It’s also home to KU’s 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship team.

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Max Participants: 50
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Included
• Water on bus
• Box lunch
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What to Bring
Wear comfortable walking shoes. Sun hat recommended. You may also want to bring binoculars and your camera.
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Accessibility
Baker Wetlands: Paved paths to the Discovery Center. Boardwalk may be difficult to navigate by wheelchair without assistance.

Douglas County Extension Office and Garden: The building is wheelchair accessible. The garden is bordered by a sidewalk or parking area.

Monarch Watch Lab and First Monarch Way-station: Paved paths leading from the parking lot to the lab and garden. Even though mulched paths within the garden could be problematic for people with mobility issues, there are stations along the edge for viewing the plants.

Rockefeller Prairie Trail: Wheelchair accessible. Wide and flat paved trail through the 10-acre remnant prairie.

ITINERARY

The morning starts with a 45-minute ride to Lawrence, Kansas.

Baker Wetlands (Lawrence, KS)

Some people may think of wetlands as wastelands, as unimportant, and as sources of mosquitoes, unpleasant odors and files. Nothing is farther from the truth. Wetlands are a major player for preserving the future. They are vital to human life and planet life, and indispensable for the critical “ecosystem services” they provide.

  • Did you know 40% of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands? In fact, some species are found nowhere else. Loss of wetland habitats in the last 30 years is a leading cause of species extinction.
  • Like human kidneys, wetlands purify water and remove pollutants. Wetlands are so good at cleaning water that they have become the model for inexpensive, waste management systems.
  • They mitigate floods, protect coastlines from erosion and build community resilience to disasters.

The Baker Wetlands are doing their part to preserve the future. These 927 acres on the open prairie are home to hundreds of species of animals and plants. The wetlands are especially popular with birdwatchers and native plant enthusiasts. And, if you were visiting in the fall, you would see swarms of monarchs as they use the wetlands as a resting place along their migration path.

Begin your visit at the Discovery Center. The exhibits provide insight into the history, wildlife and plant species that inhabit the wetlands and how the ecosystem functions.

Take the extensive boardwalks out over the wetlands and experience the ecosystem up close.

Walk with docents and learn more about the value of wetlands to the environment, why wetlands are essential to fighting climate change, and the worldwide effort to protect and preserve them from destruction. (Wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests.)

Learn what you can do to help protect wetlands.

Take advantage of the observation blinds to observe and photograph nature without disturbing it.

Don’t miss out on seeing the Baker Wetlands. They are the only wetlands on an IMGC tour. You’ll leave knowing why wetlands are one of the most productive ecosystems in the world.

Douglas County Extension Office and Garden (Lawrence, KS)

Next, take a short jaunt over to the Douglas County Extension Office for a tasty lunch and a bit of midday relaxing. Take a stroll through their demo garden and get inspired by what the Douglas County EMGs have been up to.

Monarch Watch Lab and First Monarch Waystation (University of Kansas Campus, Lawrence, KS)

The next stop is an historic one. It’s where the internationally known Monarch Watch was born. We all know the future of monarch butterflies is in trouble and they need our help. This stop will fill you with optimism and hope for the future as you tour the Monarch Watch lab and learn what KU professor Dr. Chip Taylor, his staff, and thousands of volunteers across the U.S., Canada and Mexico are doing to preserve the future of the monarch.

Dr. Taylor created the Monarch Watch in 1992 to focus on the education, conservation and research of monarchs. He is a renowned leader in the preservation of monarchs and their spectacular fall migration. The Monarch Watch lab is rarely open to the public, so don’t miss this chance to join the staff as they show you the innerworkings of the lab.

  • See monarchs in each stage, from larvae through chrysalis to mature butterflies able to survive on their own.
  • Learn more about the fall migration and the things threatening it.
  • Learn how the monarch tagging program works. Thousands of volunteers across North Americanyou can be onenow tag some quarter-million butterflies each season.
  • Where do all the butterflies they produce end up? You’ll find out.
  • See the very first Monarch Waystation. It’s maintained by the Douglas County EMGs and is spectacular. Learn how to create one yourself. Today, there are 31,000 registered waystations in the U.S. and eight other countries. You could be 31,001.

For more inspiration, visit monarchwatch.org.

BY THE WAY: Dr. Taylor is talking on Wednesday afternoon at the conference (session CS47). Tuesday evening is another monarch-related talk. The amazing Sara Dykman is talking about her adventure biking alongside monarch butterflies in 2017 as they made their 10,201-mile annual migration from Mexico through the United States to Canada.

Rockefeller Prairie Trail (North of Lawrence, Kansas)

It would almost be sacrilegious to be in Kansas and not experience the tallgrass prairie. Walk the Rockefeller Prairie Trail and go back in time and see the vanishing tallgrass prairie exactly as it was 8,00010,000 years ago, unplowed and untouched. Transport yourself back to the 1800s and see what the first settlers saw as they crossed the Great Plains and moved westward. You’ll look out on a sea of grass moving and waving in the wind. It’s easy to imagine rolling hills of grassland as far as the eye can see, boundless and beautiful.

  • The Rockefeller Prairie Trail overlooks the Kaw Valley and a 10-acre remnant of original native prairie.
  • The wide, concrete path to the overlook is 0.4 miles. It’s completely accessible to everyone.
  • The 200+ native plants on this prairie remnant are also a valuable seed bank of rare prairie plants. They are highly useful in studies of prairie ecology, restoration and management.
  • The Kaw Valley and Kansas get their name from the Kaw Nation, a Sioux tribe that was the predominate tribe in Kansas. Kaw means “Wind People” or “People of the Southwind.”

You can still breathe in the prairie, hear the birds, and feel the wind on your face. Wonder no more what the tallgrass prairie was really like.

“I felt motion in the landscape; in the fresh, easy-blowing morning wind, and in the earth itself, as if the shaggy grass were a sort of loose hide, and underneath it herds of wild buffalo were galloping, galloping … Alone.”
-Willa Cather, My Ántonia

After a day of being out in nature and the open air, it’s time to board the bus for the 40-minute ride back to the Convention Center. Includes a rest stop along the way. We should arrive around 5 p.m.

 

Details

Date:
June 19, 2023
Time:
7:45 am - 5:00 pm
Cost:
$105
Event Category: