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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Students restore prairie ecosystems through prescribed fire

Oct. 18, 2022
Prescribed burn in autumn 2022 at Yoder Prairie

Students engage in efforts to restore prairie ecosystems through prescribed fire

This semester, students in ENR 3335.02, the field lab for Introduction to Wildland Fire Management participated in the 7th prescribed burn at The Larry R. Yoder Prairie Learning Laboratory located on the Ohio State Marion campus.

"We have an agreement to burn sections of the prairie each year, and rotating that around so that each section gets burned at least once every 3 years," said Roger Williams, instructor of the course and associate professor of Forest Ecosystem Analysis & Management in the CFAES School of Environment and Natural Resources.

This year 25 students had the opportunity to engage in this hands-on learning opportunity.

"Having Yoder as a place to do this first of all is convenient in regard to its location and the permitting process. The prairie is used as an educational tool for students at the Marion campus and the community regarding prairie management and importance," Williams said.

Prescribed burn at Yoder Prairie.

An important takeaway or lesson Dr. Williams likes to impart to students is that "prairie ecosystems need prescribed fire to keep them prairie ecosystems." 

"It is satisfying to play a significant role in doing this, especially with students. It is a win-win in regard to restoring the prairie and maintaining it, and as a very useful educational tool in regard to prairie management and the use of fire in restoration efforts. When we conduct the burns, we often get folks from the community to stop by to see what is going on and it becomes an educational moment for them."


Students and instructors at this year's prescribed burn at Yoder Prairie. Photo courtesy of Roger Williams.

Additional photos of students engaged in the prescribed burn are available for viewing in the SENR Photo Gallery.