Dordt College News

Not your average walk in the park

July 23, 2012

Despite the summer heat, the wildflowers and grasses of the Dordt College Prairie are thriving, and on Tuesday night, July 31, the community is invited to explore the prairie on a Dordt College Prairie Walk. This month’s walk features a special appearance by Dordt College English professor emeritus Jim Schaap.

Participants are invited to meet in the parking lot behind the Campus Center at 7 p.m., where Dordt professor of Environmental Studies Robert De Haan will identify conspicuous prairie plants, birds, and insects, and explain how drought and high temperatures affect the prairie.

There is more to a prairie than rolling hills, and at 7:40, Schaap will highlight the historical aspect of Sioux County’s prairie land. Reading passages from the 1930 novel Black Sail by Josephine Donovan, Schaap hopes to remind attendees what the land looked like before there were any buildings and to “offer a glimpse of what the prairie used to be like” through the eyes of Sioux County’s first homesteaders.

From 8 to 8:15 there will be a time for questions, comments, and further opportunity to wander the prairie.

The monthly prairie walks generally draw a few dozen attendees. Associate Provost and Dean for Curriculum and Instruction Leah Zuidema and Admissions Secretary Rhonda Den Herder have each been on a Prairie Walk in past years.

Seeing the prairie through the eyes of an expert and taking the time to slow down and notice the different species of plants was an opportunity to “look at God’s creation up close like you’re using a magnifying glass,” said Zuidema. “The Prairie Walk was an opportunity to use that magnifying glass.”

"I was interested in seeing the differences between this prairie and the South Dakota prairie I remember growing up. I enjoyed seeing the floral species, particularly the butterfly milkweed, a variety I had never seen before,” Den Herder commented. “I am interested in going on the walk this fall to see the differences the seasons make.”

More information about the restored Dordt College Prairie can be found at Monthly Prairie Walks are co-sponsored by Dordt College and the Sioux Center Public Library.

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