|Dartmouth University’s Big Green Bus to visit Ogg Road Prairie on Aug. 29|
This summer, 10 students from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, are touring the nation on the Big Green Bus to build enthusiasm for community involvement through environmental action. As part of a 24-state, 12,000-mile cross-country trip, the students and their donated 1998 Greyhound, which runs on waste vegetable oil and features appliances that only use solar power and a composter, are focusing on inspiring grassroots action.
The Ogg Road Prairie event is a workday aimed at removing woody invasive plants from a small virgin prairie area. Volunteers are invited to work alongside Big Green Bus crew members in this endeavor, which will take place from 9 a.m. to noon. The event is being hosted by the Johnson County Park & Recreation District in association with Kansas City WildLands, a coalition of resource professionals, private conservation organizations, and conservation-minded citizens established in 2001 to restore and manage the remnants of Kansas City’s original landscape. This is a great opportunity to help with hands-on restoration and conservation work on the metro area’s ever-dwindling wild acres.
“WildLands works with the wild places - that’s our piece of the niche,” said Kansas City WildLands Project Manager Linda Lehrbaum. “These folks are coming from having just toured the country and they will have been involved with a lot of different environmental actions going on across the country, so that should stimulate some really good conversation.”
The minimum age for participating in the workday is 11, with adult supervision. Volunteers ages 15 and older can participate without bringing a supervising adult, but must have completed a waiver form with a parent’s signature. Volunteers are asked to register online at www.kcwildlands.org. Tools and on-site training will be provided, but participants should bring a refillable water bottle and insect repellant, and wear long pants and sturdy, closed-toe shoes.
Also planned as part of the event are public tours of the Big Green Bus, which has been retrofitted as a model sustainable home. Crew members will take turns giving these tours, which will be offered from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and do not require participation in the workday.
This is the eighth year for the Big Green Bus tour, which is a completely student-run initiative, but the first time the tour has stopped in the Kansas City area. Other local stops are planned at Pembroke Hill School and at Harrah’s Casino. Lehrbaum explained that Dartmouth student, Samantha Parker, who attended Blue Valley North High School where she worked with Kansas City WildLands for about four years, is part of the bus’s crew this year and was looking for places to volunteer as part of the bus’s journey.
“Because of her connection to Johnson County, I hooked them up with the Ogg Road Prairie out of the WildLands sites,” she said.
Shawnee Mission Park is located at 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee and Lenexa, and the Ogg Road Prairie can be found on the north side of the lake near the intersection of 79th Street and Ogg Road north of the Swimming Beach. Parking will be available along Ogg Road.