Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center and Area Youth Create a Native Meadow

Mystic, CT – Students, staff, and community volunteers at the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center (DPNC) are excited to create a native plant teaching meadow at Coogan Farm this spring and summer with funds from the Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Grant Program administered by Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes. Everyone, but especially children, will learn about native plants that have grown in this area since pre-colonial times, while getting a close-up view of butterflies, songbirds and other creatures that use the plants for food or shelter. The local chapter of the Wild Ones has been instrumental in helping to get this project off the ground.
The teaching meadow will be at DPNC’s Coogan Farm location at 162 Greenmanville Avenue in Mystic, CT. Positioned along the trails leading out to the Giving Garden, this prominent location will provide easy access for the public to see not only the finished meadow area, but the work as it progresses. Students from area schools, and DPNC’s after school program, “Neighbors and Nature”, will participate in all aspects of creating the native plant meadow area. Students will be learning about invasive plant species and helping to eliminate them from the area by pulling and smothering them with cardboard. They will have the opportunity to start native plants from seed and watch them germinate in pots before transplanting them to the meadow area. Students will also be able to participate in direct seeding. All plants and seeds being used are native to the Connecticut and are important to local wildlife. Plants such as milkweed and goldenrod will benefit monarch butterflies, ruby throated hummingbirds and native pollinators.   
“We are excited about this opportunity to share with our visitors and children attending programs the importance of native plants in our landscape,” said DPNC’s Director of Education, Kim Hargrave. “Because native plants are adapted to local environmental conditions, including soil and climate, they require less water and minimal care. In addition to providing vital habitat for birds and protective shelter for many mammals, other species of wildlife benefit as well. Native plants provide not only food for pollinators, but support for all stages of their life cycles.”
Lydia Pan, President of the Mountain Laurel Chapter of Wild Ones added, “This grant will strengthen the ongoing partnership between our organizations to teach how native plants are critical for the health of our environment and everything living in it.” 
Members of the public are invited to stop by and see the progress. Wild Ones is a national non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging the use of native landscaping to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. See their website at  The local Mountain Laurel Chapter is based in New London and sponsored by the Connecticut College Arboretum.

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About the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center:
Since 1946, the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic has provided visitors and community the opportunity to experience nature first hand in year-round programs for all ages and interests. Visitors can explore over 10 miles of diverse trails and walk among 17th century stone walls, woodlands, wetlands and meadows to enjoy views across the Mystic River and beyond connecting our main facility and Coogan Farm. At the DPNC’s main facility, discover nature through meeting rehabilitated wildlife and natural history exhibits. The creation of the Coogan Farm in 2013 has added additional layers of education, history, and a Giving Garden that donates thousands of pounds of bionutrient rich produce to the food insecure of New London County each year. Our mission is to inspire an understanding of the natural world and ourselves as part of it – past, present and future. It is our hope that through DPNC and Coogan Farm that we will help our visitors foster a personal environmental ethic.