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Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Release Date: 02/15/12
Contacts: Larry Crutchfield , 435-644-1209 ,
News Release No. BLM-UT-GSENM-120215

Kanab Elementary Students Learn With Mud

Anyone who was ever a kid (read “all of us”) knows, children are instinctively drawn to mud, kind of like moths are to a porch light on a warm summer’s eve.  They just cannot help themselves.Seed balls are not all that get covered with clay; students hands were also well-coated.  Photo by Don Fox

So what better way to get children to learn about plant biology than combining their natural attraction to mud with an enthusiastic group of volunteers from Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP), scientists from the Bureau of Land Management’s Kanab Field Office and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, bags of seeds and yes, buckets of mud.

Before the real fun began for 51 4th grade students at Kanab’s elementary school January 27, GSENM botanist Raymond Brinkerhoff, KFO wildlife biologist Lisa Church and rangeland management specialist Carson Gubler took to the classrooms to explain the science behind seed germination and plant growth as well as plant and animal adaptations to the desert environment.

“We used photographs of different local plants and animals to help explain the importance of what we were planting, and how seeds serve as a vital link between plants and animals in our ecosystem,” said Brinkerhoff.

 “The kids were really excited to learn about the diversity of the plant and animal life surrounding them,” added Church.

Students, with the help of GSEP volunteers, created thousand of little "seed balls."  Photo by Don FoxOnce the classroom instruction concluded, the students headed outside where, with the help of GSEP volunteers, they created thousands of little “seed balls.”

According to GSEP’s environmental education specialist Wade Parsons, “seed balls are nothing more than a mixture of plant seeds coated with compost and soil, covered with clay and rolled into a ball.  The clay coating protects the contents from seed-eating insects and animals until rain saturates the clay and the seeds germinate.”

The seed balls were taken to a BLM warehouse for drying and storage until February 10 when more than 100 students from Kanab’s elementary, middle and high schools scattered them over gravel mulch at the new Bureau of Land Management Kanab Complex.  The mulch increases moisture retention while preventing soil erosion from occurring and invasive weeds from growing until the native seeds take hold.

Three different plant zones were mapped out around the new complex for the seeding project: a wetlands zone, which will be created by storm runoff; a sagebrush restoration zone around the outside edges of the property; and an ornamental (wildflowers) zone, located at the front of the building.

“I think the entire project was a great learning experience for the students. Not only did they learn about plants in the classroom, they got to get their hands dirty and actually plant the seeds…how fun is that? ” said Trays of completed seed balls ready for drying.  Photo by Don FoxParsons.

Volunteers helping with the project were Don and Sue Fox, JoAnna Randoo-Moon, Tana McTyer, Brad Heap and Darlene Anderson.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument   669 South Highway 89A      Kanab, UT 84741  

Last updated: 11-01-2013