Prairie Pod

person walk across a prairie

The Podcast

The Prairie Pod communicates the science surrounding prairie conservation, restoration/reconstruction, and management. Each episode covers a prairie-focused topic, and offers insights on related literature and places to explore Minnesota's beautiful prairies and other amazing natural areas. You'll hear discussions from a variety of experts, tackling the complexity, challenges and beauty of Minnesota's prairie landscape.

This work is part of the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Partnership, which works underneath the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan to protect, restore and enhance prairie and wetland habitats.

 

The Episodes

New episodes are available weekly. Episodes are available to download or listen to in iTunes.

Season Two

Episode 1: A lost prairie butterfly gets reintroduced (Dakota Skipper Reintroduction at Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie)

Today's podcast is going to talk about Dakota skippers, a rare prairie butterfly, and their reintroduction into a Minnesota prairie.

Resource List

Episode 2: We’re in this for the long haul (Restoration Series: Long-term management)

Guests: Joe Stangel, Jeanine Vorland.

Today’s podcast is going to talk about long-term management of prairies and grasslands! Some people say diamonds are forever, well we say, prairies are forever. With the right management tool we can keep them thriving and healthy for many generations to come. We’ll chat with Asst. Regional Wildlife Manager, Joe Stangel, and Area Wildlife Manager, Jeanine Vorland, to hear how they prefer to manage prairies and grasslands and cover some of the basics in terms of management tools and timelines.

Resource List

Episode 3: A Legacy of Conservation with the Service

Feature Conservationist: Marty Baker, USFWS

Today's podcast is going to feature a very special conservationist, Marty Baker. Marty has worked for the USFWS for 28 years and he mostly works on prairie and wetland restorations. There is no substitute for practitioner experience—those who know by getting their hands dirty and trying new things. Marty is one of those rare gems who has an incredible wealth of knowledge to share and we’re excited to learn all we can from him during today's episode!

Resource List

Long-time conservationist, Marty Baker stands above a complex of reconstructed and remnant prairie on the Wolf Lake Waterfowl Production Area in Windom, MN.

(Long-time conservationist, Marty Baker stands above a complex of reconstructed and remnant prairie on the Wolf Lake Waterfowl Production Area in Windom, MN.)

Listen to Episode3

Episode 4: Going Native: Native Prairie Bank Easement Program—The Deets

Guest: Rhett Johnson

In today's podcast we are going to talk about the Native Prairie Bank Easement Program. Did you know if you have remnant prairie (never been broken by a plow) on your land, you may qualify for an easement program that can keep that prairie land for future generations? How awesome is that? More Prairie, More Awesome is what we always say. We'll be chatting with DNR Private Lands Specialist, Rhett Johnson about all the details. You may even get to hear about his magical vest!

Resource List

Visit a Prairie

 

 

A Native Prairie Bank Easement sign marks the border of a remnant prairie (a prairie that has never been broken by a plow or other means) on private land in southern Minnesota.

(A Native Prairie Bank Easement sign marks the border of a remnant prairie (a prairie that has never been broken by a plow or other means) on private land in southern Minnesota.)

Listen to Episode 4

Episode 5: Herp Tracking in the Minnesota River Valley—Snakes, Skinks, and More!

Guests: Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, Carol Hall, Jeff LeClere

Today’s podcast is going to talk about everyone’s favorite subject: snakes and skinks! That’s right, we’re going reptile folks and we aren’t going back! We’ll talk with Nongame Biologist, Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, Herpetologist, Carol Hall, and Animal Survey Specialist, Jeff LeClere to hear about their work tracking gopher snakes and five-lined skinks in the Minnesota River Valley.

Resource List

Visit a Prairie

 

 

A rare five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) shows off its striking blue tail while a biologist collects data on its health and population status.

A rare five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) shows off its striking blue tail while a biologist collects data on its health and population status.

Listen to Episode 5

Episode 6: Bringing Diversity Back, Baby (Restoration Series: Interseeding)

Guests: Jeff Zajac, Curt Vacek

Today's podcast is going to talk about Interseeding! This is the practice of adding wildflowers or other missing guilds to an already established stand of grass. How can we bring lower diversity established stands of grasses up to a higher level of diversity that will ultimately benefit more species and help with grassland function? What we really want here is MORE FLOWERS.

Resource List

Visit a Prairie

 

 

A high-diversity forb mix was used to benefit a variety of wildlife including pollinators, pheasants, and grassland birds on this MN DNR prairie reconstruction near Lamberton, Minnesota.

A high-diversity forb mix was used to benefit a variety of wildlife including pollinators, pheasants, and grassland birds on this MN DNR prairie reconstruction near Lamberton, Minnesota.

Listen to Episode 6

Episode 7: How do I know if I’m doing a good job? (Prairie and Grassland Monitoring)

Today’s podcast is going to talk about monitoring! It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. We all know prairies change through time and that is a normal and natural process—albeit frustrating when you are trying to re-build them! Monitoring plays a key role in understanding what’s happening on your site and how that piece of land is being affected by the surrounding landscape. Once you know that, then you have the incredibly difficult job of trying to decide what to do next and sometimes that right next step is the hardest thing of all…having patience while you let nature go through the magic and change of succession.

Resource List

Visit a Prairie

 

 

USFWS' Biologist, Sara Vacek, uses the grassland monitoring protocol to assess a native hillside prairie in southwest Minnesota

USFWS Biologist, Sara Vacek, uses the grassland monitoring protocol to assess a native hillside prairie in southwest Minnesota.

Listen to Episode 7

Season One

Pilot: How to Grow a Prairie from Scratch (Restoration and Reconstruction)

Today's podcast is about our favorite subject - prairies and how to grow them from scratch.

Resource List

  • The Tallgrass Restoration Handbook: For Prairies, Savannas, and Woodlands (The Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration Series) by Stephen Packard (Editor), Cornelia F. Mutel (Editor)
  • Sluis et al. 2017 Multiscale metrics differentiate among tallgrass prairie restorations and remnant ecosystems along a restorative continuum. Restoration Ecology.
  • Chris Helzer: The Prairie Ecologist Blog

Visit a Prairie

carved images in rock at jeffers petroglyphs

Listen to the Pilot Episode

Episode 2: Walking into the Prairie (Walk-in Access Program)

On today's podcast, we'll chat with Scott Roemhildt, from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Megan Howell, with Pheasants Forever. We'll cover the Walk-in Access Program - what it is, how it works, and how to hunt on these awesome private lands.

Resource List

  • The Land Ethic by Aldo Leoppold
  • Drum, R. G., C. A. Ribic, K. Koch, E. Lonsdorf, E. Grant, M. Ahlering, L. Barnhill, T. Dailey, S. Lor, C. Mueller, D. C. Pavlacky, C. Rideout, and D. Sample. 2015. Strategic grassland bird conservation throughout the annual cycle: Linking policy alternatives, landowner decisions, and biological population outcomes. PLOS ONE 10:1-16.
  • Iowa STRIPS project

Visit a Prairie

Episode 3: Where Can I get that Prairie Seed? (Restoration Series: Seed Sourcing)

We'll discuss sourcing seed for prairie restorations. Should you mix or match seed? How far is too far? And general guidelines for safe seed sourcing.

Resource List

  • Espeland, E. K., N. C. Emery, K. L. Mercer, S. A. Woolbright, K. M. Kettenring, P. Gepts, and J. R. Etterson. 2017. Evolution of plant materials for ecological restoration: insights from the applied and basic literature. Journal of Applied Ecology 54: 102-115.
  • Meissen, J. C., S. M. Galatowitsch, and M. W. Cornett. 2015. Risks of overharvesting seed from native tallgrass prairies. Restoration Ecology 23: 882-891.
  • Native plant suppliers in Minnesota.
  • Iowa Tallgrass Prairie Center - Technical guides
  • Tallgrass prairie center video on basics of seed collecting
  • Seed Sourcing for Resilient Reconstructed Prairies

Visit a Prairie

Episode 4: A Legacy of Conservation at Lac qui Parle

Today's podcast features a special conservationist, Dave Trauba. Dave worked as the Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area manager for 24 years.

Resource List

  • Augustine, J. K., & Trauba, D. R. 2015. Potential for behavioral reproductive isolation between greater prairie-chickens and sharp-tailed grouse in west-central Minnesota. Journal of Ethology 33: 15-24.
  • Johnson, R. G., and S. A. Temple. 1990. Nest Predation and Brood Parasitism of Tallgrass Prairie Birds. Journal of Wildlife Management 54:106-111.
  • Schlicht, D. A., Swengel, and S. Swengel. 2009. Meta-analysis of survey data to assess trends of prairie butterflies in Minnesota, USA during 1979-2005. Journal of Insect Conservation 13:429-447.

Visit a Prairie

Episode 5: What Goes in the Mix, Makes the Cake (Restoration Series: Building a Seed Mix)

Today we'll talk about one of our favorite subjects - building seed mixes. We'll explore how to evaluate your site, why diversity matters, seeds per square feet, and general guidelines for success.

Resource List

Episode 6: Putting Prairie Back is Hard

Today's podcast features a prairie in Nobles County and the challenges of restoring an entire section of land to prairie and wetland habitat. We're joined by Bill Schuna and Kent Schaap with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Resource List

Visit a Prairie

Episode 7: What you do Now, Matters Later (Restoration Series: Establishment Phase Management)

Today, we'll talk about the establishment phase of restoration, with Area Wildlife Manager, Jeff Zajac.

Resource List

Visit a Prairie

Episode 8: Pheasants, Feathers and Guns

This week, we'll talk pheasants, grassland birds and the fall hunting season.

Resource List

  • National Geographic Fierce, Furry Fisher Article
  • Pheasant Action Plan
  • Roadside Survey
  • Pheasant Hunting
  • Wszola, L.S., Simonsen, V.L., Stuber, E.F., Gillespie, C.R., Messinger, L.N., et al. 2017. Translating statistical species-habitat models to interactive decision support tools. PLOS ONE 12(12): e0188244
  • Benson, T.J., Chiavacci, S.J., and M.P. Ward. 2013. Patch size and edge proximity are useful predictors of brood parasitism but not nest survival of grassland birds. Ecological Applications 23:879-887.
  • Leonard A. Brennan and William P. Kuvlesky, Jr. 2005. North American Grassland Birds: An Unfolding Conservation Crisis? The Journal of Wildlife Management, 69(1): 1-13.

Visit a Prairie

The Voices

Jessica and Megan met on the prairie in 2016 at a Native Plant Community Identification Training. They share a passion for prairie and natural lands.

Jessica is a research scientist with a passion for communicating science to land managers and prairie practitioners.

Megan is a regional ecologist who is fascinated by the science of restoration and the challenge of building better, more resilient prairies with diversity always as the backbone.

megan benage and jess petersen sitting in a prairie field, smiling at the camera