The Research Fund
How healthy are the 60 acres of pasture in Piscataway Park? Are these grasslands losing biodiversity and turning into monoculture pastures that support fewer species? Does the soil contain the nutrients the plants need to thrive? Could these habitats be healthier for the flora and fauna that make their home in Piscataway Park?
This year, we hope to discover the answers to these questions. With the help of students, the Accokeek Foundation will embark on a research project to study these pasture lands and discover ways of improving the soil health and biodiversity of such an important habitat.
What do we want to learn?
How healthy is our soil?
What flora and fauna make their home in our pastures?
What role does livestock play in the management of the pasture ecosystem?
This summer, we will engage youth from the 4-H Livestock Club and the Agriculture Conservation Corps to discover the answers to these questions. Through a series of hands on learning experiences, they will explore the importance of biodiversity in grassland habitat and come up with solutions for stewarding the park's unique cultural landscape.
Students will conduct soil tests and find out what is currently living in the ground beneath our feet.
Students will identify the plants, animals, and insects that are living (and missing) from Piscataway Park's grasslands.
Students will explore how heritage livestock fit into the system and affect the health of the pastures (and how the health of the pastures in turn affects them!)
They will learn about healthy soil and healthy habitats. They will learn about collaborating with neighbors to responsibly manage the land. They will learn about preserving historic spaces. And they will learn about the connections between the people, the animals, the plants, and the land.
Each donation will help:
$24: Supply students with binoculars, field guides, insect nets, and magnifying glasses to help identify grassland species.
$48: Equip 4-H youth with tools necessary to monitor livestock nutrition and health.
$124: Fund educator training related to exploring "Underspace: The Science of Soil"
$240: Fund one year of soil testing in the pastures
$480: Support educational materials about grassland habitat and biodiversity