The other guy can be seen traversing the prairie with his backpack filled with notebooks, GPS, wildflower books and camera. When I can no longer see him, I suspect he is sitting amid the flowers and grasses, examining them closely. What do they need to thrive and propagate? The soil, the moister than usual days, the precocious growth of certain species—there are so many factors at work. This is the first year that neither large section of the prairie was burned in the spring. How does that effect growth? What explains the reappearance of some invasives like crown vetch and the abundance of Queen Ann’s lace?
The two young men are summer research students from Calvin College. They were chosen among other hopefuls for the chance to live and work at Flat Iron Lake. They get a small stipend and a notch for their résumé’s but mostly it is a labor of love. These two follow three men and two women who went before them in other summers.
The students’ sense of wonder has inspired me. They help me understand a little more but perpetuate awe of the intricacies of God’s creation. I am only scratching the surface; they are going a lot deeper. Even at twenty-something each sees his/her role in creation care. They are only a few of many in their generation who sense that what they do today will have lasting impact into the future.
Now back to my generation. Perhaps we took natural wonders for granted; we thought they would always be there just for our use. We did not sense the consequences of our action or lack thereof. So I’m pinning my hope on young people like these to lead the way in showing the rest of us how to honor God’s gift by preserving the planet and all contained therein. Today, I look out at the big bluestem already going to seed, thankful that together with the students we can have small part in restoring this tall grass prairie.