LOCAL Houston | The City Guide August 2017 - Page 58

COMMUNITY THE ROOF OF CARNEGIE VANGUARD HIGH SCHOOL LITTLE PRAIRIE ON THE HOUSE KATY PRAIRIE CONSERVANCY TURNS THINGS AROUND We’re all familiar with Houston’s pocket parks, but how much do you know about our community’s pocket prairies? The Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC)’s Prairie Builder Schools + Parks program engages public schools and public places, often located in economically depressed areas, to establish on-site pocket prairies. These prairies become bridges for learning about science, history, culture, economics and global environmental stewardship. Further, these prairies preserve a lasting location where students can interact with the land. You can find them at elementary and public schools, and even some more unconventional locations – such as THE ROOF OF CARNEGIE VANGUARD HIGH SCHOOL or out in front of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where patients and their families can connect with the natural environment in the middle of the Texas Medical Center. “In addition to saving grand places like the Katy Prairie, KPC is also helping people in the community find nature right where they live, work and play,” KPC’s Executive Director, Mary Anne Piacentini says. To date, 10,000 students have participated in educational programming through this project. KPC has also assisted six public parks in creating native grasslands habitats. Now, KPC turns its work to colleges and universities. In the spring of 2016, KPC partnered with the University of Houston to create a pocket prairie on its campus for student research. In 2017, KPC will collaborate with Rice University, University of Houston-Downtown and the University of St. Thomas to accomplish this same goal. In the larger scheme of things, KPC believes that nature is a critical part of a life well lived, and everyone should have access to nature and to fun. The organization now protects more than 20,000 acres in Harris, Waller and Fort Bend Counties. Whether hunting, fishing, hiking, bike riding, bird watching or volunteering, today’s and tomorrow’s adventure seekers have a place to go thanks to this vast preserve system. By Tim Moloney 58 L O C A L | august 17 11.4.2014 9:31am august 17 | L O C A L 59