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Operation: Save the Quail

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.


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