Mediapolis students worked with the Des Moines County (Iowa) Conservation Board before deciding to do a project involving the Northern Bobwhite. The prairie-loving, reddish-brown quail's numbers have dropped 82 percent in the United States over the past 40 years as its natural habitat has shrunk, according to the National Audubon Society.
The sixth-graders chose to restore 18 acres of a county-owned plot called Luckenbill Woods, which had been overrun with invasive plants such as sumac and dogwood that quails shun. The students conducted research, wrote a business plan and grant letters, and secured an $8,000 donation from the local chapter of Pheasants Forever to fund the project.
With the help of community members, the group prepared the site with a controlled chemical burn and replanted it with native grasses and widely-spaced shrubs—creating the perfect environment for the tubby, ground-hugging quails. Future classes will continue to monitor and tend the site to ensure that it serves as a proper refuge for Northern Bobwhites.
<a href="http://www.districtadministration.com/custompublishing/default.aspx?publisher=damicroportal&articleid=2524">Iowa sixth graders win Disney's 2009 Planet Challenge</a>
<a href="http://www.districtadministration.com/custompublishing/default.aspx?publisher=damicroportal&articleid=2528">Disney introduces 2010-2011 Planet Challenge</a>
<a href="http://www.districtadministration.com/custompublishing/default.aspx?publisher=damicroportal&articleid=2526">List of 2010 Winners and Runners Up</a>