A vibrant jewel of environmental education and conservation at the University of North Texas (UNT) is set for an exciting enhancement. The Pecan Creek Pollinative Prairie, a refuge for native flora and fauna, will be receiving a brand-new pavilion and observational dock. This addition is made possible by generous funding from the Diamond Eagles Society.
The Society, a community of UNT donors, alumni, and supporters, selected the Pollinative Prairie for its 2023 grant. A total of $77,500 was bestowed for the construction of the Diamond Eagles Community and Learning Area. The forthcoming expansion is designed to include an accessible walkway, informative signage, an observational dock, and a covered pavilion.
Open to students, faculty, and anyone desiring to relax amidst nature, the Pollinative Prairie serves as a living laboratory and a tranquil retreat. Jaime Baxter-Slye, an instructional laboratory supervisor in the UNT Department of Biological Sciences, has passionately steered this project since its birth. She led the proposal for this expansion project.
“The new facilities will enable even more people to explore and appreciate this nature sanctuary,” says Baxter-Slye. “We are grateful to the Diamond Eagles for their support and partnership. We are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to offer tours and conduct classes beneath the pavilion.”
Since 2017, the Diamond Eagles Society has boosted high-impact campus projects with its annual grants. Notably, the Diamond Eagles Garden at UNT’s Mean Green Acres hydroponic farm was a past beneficiary.
Jeffrey McLeod (’15), a UNT alumnus and Diamond Eagles Society member, underscored the personal satisfaction of contributing to projects that enrich the campus and Denton community.
“My wife and I value UNT’s commitment to environmental, creative, and educational endeavors,” McLeod shares. “Contributing through the Diamond Eagles Society is a way of expressing our gratitude. We believe that the organization exemplifies the potential roles that students can play in preserving UNT’s standing as a premier research institution.”
The Pollinative Prairie was initially a student-funded We Mean Green Fund project launched in 2016. With the help of over 300 students volunteering around 900 hours, an invasive grass-dominated field was transformed into a thriving four-acre prairie ecosystem. The UNT Pollinative Prairie Committee and student volunteers now meticulously care for this biodiverse prairie.
Senior UNT student, Kymie Creswell, who studies ecology and environmental science, praised the opportunity to work with Baxter-Slye at the Pollinative Prairie.
“I fell in love with the prairie because there are so many moving parts; there is always something new to see,” Creswell stated.
The Pollinative Prairie is certified and recognized by multiple organizations, including the UNT Office of Sustainability, the Monarch Watch Waystation, Audubon on Campus, and Texan by Nature. An impressive count of over 900 species of plants and animals have been documented in the prairie.
UNT senior, Chione Lawton, echoed the sentiment of many of her peers, “With this funding, we can spread the knowledge and excitement of our natural world and encourage our peers to love and take care of the area we live in.”
The completion of the Diamond Eagles Community and Learning Area expansion project is eagerly anticipated for June 2024, marking a new chapter in the life of UNT’s Pollinative Prairie.