Buchanan County Master Gardeners Receive Excellence Award

Prairie schoolhouse project provides educational opportunities for youth and their families

April 24, 2019, 10:18 am | Susan DeBlieck

two ladies standing by a birdhouse in tall grass.JESUP, Iowa – An old schoolhouse is seeing new life, thanks to the hard work of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener volunteers in Buchanan County.

The schoolhouse was relocated to the Jesup Community School property in the 1990s, but over the years, community leaders saw a need for an aesthetic improvement. Working together, the group planted new flowerbeds, revitalized old flowerbeds, seeded prairie wildflowers and added pollinator-friendly plants.

For their effort, the Buchanan County Master Gardeners were named the 2019 recipient of the Search for Excellence Award, an ISU Extension and Outreach award that recognizes Master Gardener projects that have made an impactful and innovative difference in Iowa communities.

“These Master Gardeners have utilized funding, their teaching experience, and their Master Gardener training to enhance the prairie and schoolhouse, while teaching children about types of plants, historic significance, and about the value of partnerships,” said Ashley Sherrets, Buchanan County Master Gardener coordinator. “Although the city of Jesup is small, the impact from the Prairie Pioneer Schoolhouse Master Gardener project is grand and very impactful.”

Nearly 400 Jesup school students have been involved with hands-on activities at the site, including the planting and establishment efforts, and ongoing lectures related to plants and outdoor life.

The prairie schoolhouse project was led by Buchanan County Master Gardeners Mary Steuben, Ruth Hamilton, Ruth Schneider and Joellen Yeager.

Support was provided by the Jesup School District, Independence Garden Club, Hawkeye Community College horticulture instructor Dan Lichty, Spahn & Rose Lumber, Jesup Farmer’s Day and various others.

This is the second Search for Excellence award Buchanan County has received. The first was awarded in 2015, for the Wapsipinicon Mill Prairie Garden.


Ashley Sherrets, Buchanan County Master Gardener Coordinator, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, 319-334-7161, sherrets@iastate.edu
Mary Steuben, Buchanan County Master Gardener, 319-230-8099, msteuben@jtt.net

Photo: Ruth Schneider (left) and Mary Steuben, of the Buchanan County Master Gardeners, were instrumental in helping improve the plant life around the Prairie Pioneer Schoolhouse at Jesup Community School. Their effort, combined with local volunteers and students, earned them the Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award in 2019.


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