Ray Schulenberg Planted the Prairie at Taylor University


Taylor University of Upland, Indiana in the east central part of the state

Taylor University of Upland, Indiana in the east central part of the state.

Last month I spent a few days in Indiana and took the opportunity to visit Taylor University in Upland, Indiana to see and photograph its famous prairie planted by Ray Schulenberg.  I had seen the prairie many years earlier but at the time, was not aware of who planted it or of its significance in the history of prairie restoration.  This time I approached the prairie with keen interest, and a deep appreciation of the time and effort that went into the project.

Ray Schulenberg is perhaps best known for his planting of the prairie (since named after him) at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, begun in 1963.  But Schulenberg, who was honored for lifetime achievement at the 24th North American Prairie Conference in Normal, Illinois this summer, has planted scores of prairies at colleges, universities and other public spaces across the midwest.   Schulenberg could be considered the Johnny Appleseed of prairie restoration.

The prairie at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.

The prairie on the outskirts of the Taylor University campus in Upland, Indiana.

The university has grown and been built up over the years.  Although the campus is relatively compact,  I could not, at first, get my bearings among all the new buildings nor find the prairie.  I flagged down a campus police officer and asked for help and wondered if he could direct me to the prairie.  I received a big blank stare.  When I tried:  “where is the area they burn every year?”, his eyes lit up and I was directed to a spot on the edge of campus, near the intersection of two state highways.

A trademark of a Shulenberg prairie planting is an emphasis on grasses in the heart of the prairie, surrounded by a verge of forbs

A trademark of a Shulenberg prairie planting is an emphasis on grasses in the heart of the prairie, surrounded by a verge of forms.  Faculty and students conduct a prescribed management burn of the prairie each year.

One would imagine that east central Indiana is out of the prairie region of the midwestern United States and that a prairie planting would be a bit out of its range.  But, as I know from experience,  prairie remnants–especially along railroad rights-of-way–are not uncommon from Upland, through Marion, and on to Wabash, Indiana.

I don’t know if prairie once grew on the spot of Schulenberg’s prairie, it certainly does fit in  with the landscape.

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About Steve Glass

The blogger is a restoration ecologist practicing and writing in the Midwestern United States.
This entry was posted in Prairie forbs, Prairie restoration, Restoration ecology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Ray Schulenberg Planted the Prairie at Taylor University

  1. Adam Thada says:

    Didn’t know this was so “famous”! 🙂 Did my Master’s research here on interseeding forbs… maybe you bumped into a few rebar posts? Sorry! Ray’s forb-rich border still persists, 20-years on.

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