The 2019 Franklin County Agricultural Fair opens today, and some local students will be on hand to educate the public about one of the county’s two nature preserves.
A group of 36 10th graders in Franklin County High School’s Eagle Tech program have spent weeks learning about Bald Knob Natural Area Preserve. From flora and fauna, to geology and preservation, students were divided into nine groups to come up with various interactive activities to engage other students and fair-goers.
The students will have their own booth with educational activities, including a cornhole toss, a Skee-ball game, a mindful walk through the flowers and a large interactive painting, “A buzzard’s eye view” with windows of information about plants.
“We feel like people belittle Franklin County, and we want the public to understand what a rarity we have here,” said student Morgan Lietz.
She and Alyssa Hodges explained Bald Knob is home to the Fame Flower, a flower that is native only to a few other locations in the U.S. Jamie Brooks added that the prickly pear cactus is another rarely seen plant that grows on Bald Knob.
Hunter Shively said his group has been working on fauna, or animals, native to the area. White tail deer, raccoons, bobcats, coyotes and various reptiles and amphibians are native the area.
“There are no rare creatures in the (Bald Knob) ecosystem, but the floras are,” Shively said.
Shively explained that his group was collaborating with the preservation group to design a walkable paper garden to demonstrate mindfulness about not stepping on the rare plants found in the area.
Teacher Shannon Brooks said the students took three trips to Bald Knob this semester and have been monitoring plots at both the summit and the base, checking temperatures, wind, sunlight and soil testing. Using this information, the students have learned about the ecosystems and the challenges of preservation.
“The greatest threats to the fragile plants that live on that mountain are the people who are going up there to admire the view,” Brooks said. “What we want people to understand is how to enjoy it the right way.”
Brooks said the project follows the goal of the Eagle Tech program, which aims to give students the skills set they need for college and real life.
“It is one thing to give them a project; it is another to give them an authentic, real-world problem and a regional audience who can make a real difference,” Brooks said.